Visiting with our Friends

March 2, 2005
Reprinted with permission from The American Museum in Britain
by Marita Lopez-Mena
Your far-flung reporter is still in New York, but by the time this article about Mark Haranzo, member of the Board of Trustees of the American Museum and Treasurer of the Halcyon Foundation in the United States, goes to press I will have visited Bath armed with a laptop. The next issue of the newsletter will have an article on a Friend from the other side of the pond.
Mark and I visited in the boardroom at Wiggin and Dana in New York City where he practices as an estates and trust attorney. It was in his professional role that he first became involved with the museum in 1988 when he was a young lawyer. Even more interesting is that Mark’s wife, Gilda (Jill-da), also an attorney, was the first to meet Dr. Pratt when she delivered documents to his home, Turtle Bay, at 228 East 49th Street.
Turtle Bay was reputed to house a ghost, according to Dr. Pratt, in addition to all its other lovely amenities. He related to Mark that once when he had been out of doors and looked toward the house he saw an ethereal form staring back at him from an upper floor window. Mark says that indeed the house even gave him an uneasy feeling when he went there after Dr. Pratt’s death. As he was leaving on a particular evening, he turned off the lights on the top floor and sprinted down the circular staircase, rushing to turn out lights as he went along. In his dash for the door he banged his knee badly – perhaps a bit of ghostly revenge on intruders.
As an attorney Mark reads many documents that pertain to a person’s life, and he believes that Dr. Pratt’s will was one of the best thought out that he has yet encountered. He was struck by the fact that it was not a tax driven will, as so many are, but instead an instrument that showed the character of the man himself. Mark said, ‘He expressed in the will a genuine caring and concern for his two favorite causes in life – animal welfare, as evidenced by the Two Mauds, and his love of art and culture through his provisions for the American Museum in Britain via the Halcyon Foundation.’
Mark relayed that, although he often spoke with Dr. Pratt while he was alive, he actually became better acquainted with him after his death. He said, ‘Dr. Pratt was very dedicated to his vision of the American Museum in Britain. He not only ensured the necessary capital to get it started, but also assembled a fine group of friends and board members of like mind to address the institution’s need for human capital.’
During the closing out of the estate Mark forged a closer relationship with Dr. Pratt’s niece, Linda Hackett, who is a member of the Halcyon Foundation board of Trustees. He also came to admire and respect two of Dr. Pratt’s good friends, Ron Scott, who was in charge of the Two Mauds, and David Finkbeiner, currently retired and teaching art in Italy, among many others.
As our interview was coming to a close, Mark recalled the last time he visited with Dr. Pratt at his country home on Albany Post Road in Garrison, New York. He remembered the beautiful art collection and the rustic old home, but more fresh in his memory is reaching out to shake hands as he was leaving and having Dr. Pratt take his hand in both of his, looking at him intensely with his very clear, brown eyes and saying, ‘Thank you so much, Mark, and good bye.’ Mark continued, ‘Maybe that is why I have tried to become part of that human capital that Dr. Pratt valued so much. And, I suspect, it is why I agreed to the chair the Planned Gifts Committee for the museum. I want to work hard to make sure that Dr. Pratt’s vision continues long after my lifetime.’