EAST, SARITA KENEDY (1889-1961).
Sarita Kenedy East, South Texas rancher and philanthropist, daughter of John G. and Marie Stella (Turcotte) Kenedy, was born on September 19, 1889, in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Sarita attended Incarnate Word Academy in Corpus Christi and then H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College in New Orleans.
also made her
debut in New Orleans.
did not complete college, but instead returned to La Parra.
Upon her brother's death in 1948, Sarita
and her sister-in-law Elena Suess Kenedy
became the sole heirs to the ranch.
also owned the San Pablo Ranch near Hebbronville and Twin Peaks Ranch in Colorado.
She served as a county commissioner of Kenedy County and was on the board of directors of Alice National Bank.
In addition to her
business dealings, she
engaged in philanthropy, especially to Catholic charities.
In 1952, she
received the Ecclesia et Pontifice medal and membership in the Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem from Pope Pius XII for her
service to the church.
was also named an honorary member of the Franciscans and the Oblates
of Mary Immaculate.
1948 will she
bequeathed La Parra ranch headquarters and 10,000 acres of land to the Oblate fathers and 13,000 acres to the Diocese of Corpus Christi
The rest of her
vast estate was divided among relatives and ranch kin.
In 1948, Mrs. East
met Christopher Gregory, a Trappist monk who had taken the name Brother Leo.
In the 1950s, Mrs. East
allowed oil and gas exploration on her
ranch which, up to that time, had largely been an untapped resource.
During that time she
gave money to the Trappist monks and visited monasteries throughout the world.
In 1959, with other family members and Brother Leo, she
went on a South American tour, one of several trips she
made, and donated $300,000 to build a mission in Chile.
also wrote another will leaving the bulk of her
estate to the Foundation.
Over the next few months she
wrote a series of codicils to her
will that increasingly gave more control of the Foundation to Brother Leo and Grace.
Just before her death she named Brother Leo sole member of the Foundation.
As Mrs. East
wished, the ranch headquarters went to the Oblate fathers.