Jan 29 2020
Kathryn Smith with Gertie

Kathryn Smith with Gertie

Presented by Midtown Reader at Maguire Center at Westminster Oaks

Kathryn Smith presents her book Gertie: The Fabulous Life of Gertrude Sanford Legendre; Heiress, Explorer, Socialite, Spy (Evening Post Books). This event will be held at Westminster Oaks’ MacGuire Center, and is free and open to the public.

Legendre, who was a native of Aiken and spent most of her life near Charleston, lived from 1902 to 2000, dying just short of her 98th birthday.

A daring and fearless woman—a feminist when hardly anyone knew what that was—and the daughter of a fabulously wealthy New York industrialist, Gertie lacked for nothing in her Gilded Age childhood. But she wanted more than the life of moneyed leisure that claimed so many of her female peers. She shot her first big game in her teens—an elk—on a hunting trip to Wyoming, a graduation gift from her father.

During the Roaring Twenties she partied on the French Riviera with the American ex-pats Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and drove Harpo Marx around in her convertible. Gertie’s hunger for adventure took her on dangerous safaris to Africa, the Far East, India and Iran, usually in the company of her beloved husband Sidney. They collected specimens for natural history museums that are still visited by millions of people today.

The most perilous adventure of all came during World War II, when Gertie, who worked for the first American spy agency, the OSS, was captured and held prisoner by the Germans for six months. Her daring escape over the Swiss border was the only time she ever admitted to being scared. It happened on the eve of her forty-third birthday, and the adventures continued until she was well into her nineties, including decades of passionate advocacy for wildlife habitat preservation on the South Carolina coast.

Gertie is a rollicking read about an extraordinary woman who took every opportunity that came her way to say “yes” to life.


Kathryn Smith, who lives in Anderson, is a critically acclaimed author and speaker who is fascinated by women who were ahead of their time. Her first biography, The Gatekeeper, told the unknown story of Marguerite LeHand, private secretary and chief of staff to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the first woman to be secretary to a president. Kathryn is also the author of a collection of interviews with World War II veterans, A Necessary War, and a series of mystery novels co-authored with Kelly Durham. Contact her at www.kathrynsmithwords.com.

Dates & Times

2020/01/29 - 2020/01/29

Location Info

Maguire Center at Westminster Oaks

4449 Meandering Way, Tallahassee, FL 32308