Westmont hosted a special dinner to honor Montecito resident and philanthropist Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree on Sept. 29 at the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel.
More than 80 guests attended the celebration that featured an inspiring video, “The Role and Impact of Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree on Santa Barbara.” The video included testimonies from dozens of beneficiaries of Ridley-Tree’s generosity, including Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, Girls Inc., Santa Barbara Food Bank, Santa Barbara Zoo, Cottage Health System, Domestic Violence Solutions, UC Santa Barbara and Westmont.
“She is an incredible role model for all of us of someone who invests in the community, makes it a better place, and fundamentally improves the lives of everyone there,” says Gayle D. Beebe, Westmont’s president. “Every organization that Leslie has invested in is playing a pivotal role in our community, truly enhancing its overall quality. She exerts her singular influence on each organization.”
Ridley-Tree, who moved to Santa Barbara in 1989 with her late husband Paul, is CEO of Pacific Air Industries. “I share, I don’t give,” she says. “I work. I run a company. And the reason I work is so I can give. I love sharing.”
The program included comments by Judy L. Larson, Askew professor of art history and director of the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art, and Polly Sartori, senior vice president of Sotheby’s New York, who discussed the role and importance of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. Ridley-Tree has donated nine Corot paintings and 12 lithographs to Westmont’s museum, which will be shown in the upcoming exhibition, “Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot: Highlights from the Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree Collection in Context,” from Jan. 31-March 23.
“We hope that everyone who is able to visit campus will come to the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art, and learn there how to love and enjoy art,” Beebe said. “But beyond their love of art, we hope their love of humanity will make our communities a better place.”
“Nothing have I done have I done alone,” Ridley-Tree said in her closing remarks. “Nothing have I given have I given alone. It’s been with your help and your encouragement that I am what you have helped me to be. You have welcomed me to this town, and you’ve made it possible for me to share. This will always be the most memorable evening I’ve ever had.”