The root of all evil: Pauline Lord leaves her heiress title behind

March 6, 2020
By Olivia Cameron

BY OLIVIA CAMERON
Is there such a thing as having too much money? Whether it fits her former persona or not, Pauline Lord recalls her growth from du Pont heiress to environmentalist.
Her talk “From Silver Spoon to Garden Spade” on Tuesday, alongside the Boca Grande Historical Society, told the audience a transformative story of how her lineage riches directed the path she chose to take. The presentation questioned how much money is too much.
Despite her naivety about the du Pont family fortune, Lord dealt with childhood calamities of her own. But she remembers her childhood in Boca Grande not by beaches per se, but bosoms. 
“Before we would eat, we would divide up on the beach. All the girls would go in one direction, and all the boys and men would go in another direction for group skinny-dipping … a few of you may know my great aunt was a rather large person, and I well remember her in the water with her bosoms bobbing,” Lord recalled. “It is an image that has stayed with me for a long time.”
Her humor uplifted the vicious cycle of family evils to follow her.
“Were we rich? I never thought about it, but I think there were some indications,” she said with an innocent mindset. The family had five-course meals and a chauffeur-driven Cadillac. “But we never talked about it, we were not to do this.”
“I had no notion that I was to inherit any bit of this wealth until days before my 21st birthday, when my father volunteered that I did not need to fly standby anymore.” Lord joked about financial management among her family members, especially how the money seemed to grow on trees.
“I can’t say that I feel great about all the products that we made,” she said in reference to the family’s earnings. As of recent years, the du Pont fortune has been reprimanded for environmental cost. 
Lord believes it is a fortune in itself to have enough money to pay and provide throughout life, but it can turn into a vile creator of evils. The problems lie under feeling worthlessness or targeted. 
After attending a Buddhist workshop years back, the “How to be Happy” guide brought an unnerving conclusion that happiness is not direct. Instead, the identification of your biggest evil will take you on the path away from it.
The evils of her family and their summit to joy had been lifetime discoveries. Her grandfather, one of two surviving children among seven siblings, lived in despair. After the loss of his own mother, he vowed never to feel again. Those deaths made up his own evil, and he devoted his passion to gardening. 
The care for flowers signified the bond with his mother, in which the last lily of the valley she smelled was forever taped in the cover of her bible.
Loss was destined to trickle down through the family, and it proved to be no exception to Lord. 
“Paramount of my evils was the death and abandonment of my baby sister. One of the first things I did was help establish a grief counseling center,” said Lord. She counseled for grief and eating disorders before raising her own daughter.
Her parents, who she had recalled needed either psychotherapy or less alcohol, had decided to leave behind her ill baby sister and bring the rest of the family to London. When her little sister died from a heart defect, her parents’ decision haunted her for years to come.
“My mom was saved by work,” said Lord. 
After the tragedy, Ruth du Pont Lord devoted her time to specializing in child studies and adoption. 
“She was really into people, not things … She was always pained to keep her wealth under wraps.”
With her mother’s eventual happiness through her work and divorce, Lord was to find her own comfort.
As the agriculture business was growing, she and her husband, David Harlow, moved to her mother’s farm in Connecticut. With a little bit of genes and a green thumb, Lord grows a variety of vegetables on White Gate Farm while caring for their junior farmhand, a little girl who has now fallen in love with the shells of Boca Grande.
“The source of true happiness isn’t money, but is meaningful work grounded in your own greatest evil. The farm allows me to address the ongoing evils of environmental destruction, and it makes me happy all the time. Like my grandfather, I love flowers.”