Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 52

bought Hope Diamond
in 1812 for $180,000

Edward Neale McLean

m.

Daughter Evalyn

m.

Senator Bob Reynolds
(5th marriage)

Daughter Mamie Spears Reynolds
inherited Hope Diamond from
grandmother

Joseph

Mamie Reynolds, growing up atop Reynolds Mountain in North Asheville,
reportedly had no idea that she was a
very rich little girl. In a feature article
in the Charlotte Observer dated July
10, 1955, 12-year-old Mamie told
the reporter she wanted to appear on
the TV program "Strike it Rich," because she wanted to be a veterinarian
when she grew up and wasn't sure
she could afford it. The article goes
on to say, "But Mamie, at age 18, will
inherit a tremendous fortune: how many
millions only her lawyers and her father
know. Her income from trust funds
now approaches a half-million dollars
a year. It keeps piling up. Because Ma52 BlueRidgeCountry.com

Joe Gregory

(2nd husband)

author, historian,
designer, speaker
George Switzer, a Smithsonian
mineralologist, is credited for successfully convincing Winston to donate the Hope Diamond as a centerpiece for a world-class gem collection
at the Museum of Natural History.
Winston agreed and in 1958 mailed
the famous gem to Washington
where it was accepted by Dr. Switzer and Leonard Carmichael, secretary of the Smithsonian. They were
perhaps a bit aghast at discovering
the gem had been mailed in a plain
brown paper envelope through registered first-class mail. On its website,
the Smithsonian quotes Winston as
saying, "It's the safest way to mail
gems. I've sent gems all over the
world that way."

m.

Courtesy: Joseph MCLean GreGory

Evalyn Walsh McLean

Evalyn

AKC Dog Show judge

mie, plain, unassuming, gentle Mamie,
doesn't know she has a dime."
Another passage in the article
states, "Mamie, who studies and speaks
three foreign languages, has a doll collection and the usual what-nots. Only wall
decorations in her pine-paneled apartment, which has cast-iron barred windows consists of two paintings, one of
her grandfather McLean's famous race
horse, Indian Flower, and the other of
Beau, a whippet and her mother's favorite dog. This is the only visible reminder
of her mother. There are no portraits of
any of the Reynolds wives, only pictures
of father and daughter, and a portrait of
Reynolds' eldest daughter, Frances, who
built the $45,000 house, and is now an
artist in Italy."
Chuck Rapp, Joseph Gregory's
partner, told me Mamie's father reportedly put bars on the windows
because he wanted to protect her
from kidnapping. She grew up in a
house on Reynolds Mountain surrounded by 250 acres and punctuated by stunning mountain views.
In researching Mamie, I felt a
deep sense of longing-a wish that
I could have met her and talked
with her about her fascinating life. I
do know something about her kind
spirit and unpretentious attitude
from talking with her son, Joseph,
who exudes a genuine kind spirit
and an open heart. That speaks volumes for her-that she passed on to

L-R) Mamie's son, Joseph
Charles McLean Gregory,
Mamie's daughter, Evalyn
Gregory, and Mamie's
husband, Joe Gregory.

her son a love of treating others well
even though her fortune could have
led to a different attitude. She told
the Asheville Citizen-Times in 1962, "I
don't try to put on any airs, and I don't
feel that I'm better than anybody else.
It's not who you are socially, but the way
you act and think that's important."
This was also reflective of her
grandmother's demeanor. In her
book "Father Struck It Rich," Evalyn Walsh McLean wrote, "The one
outstanding lesson I have learned and
the one Father always taught me was,
'Think of the other fellow first.' Human
nature is such a wonderful thing; people
are so fine and real when you least expect them to be. You see, I really love people, all people and every class of people.
Another thing I was taught is, 'Give part
of yourself.'"
She went on to write, "The real
things, I have found out, are quiet
and peace in your own soul, love and
thought for the people around you, and
above all, the care and devotion you
give to your children."
On a sunny Sunday in September 2016,
Joseph's partner, Chuck Rapp, met
me high atop Reynolds Mountain at
the home where Mamie grew up. She
sold the 250-acre property to a group
of developers in 1969 for $225,000.
Much of the property has been developed with houses over the years,
but there's still about four acres or so


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017

Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 10
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 12
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Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 16
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 18
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 21
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Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - Cover4
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