Elizabeth Stribling awarded of the insignia of Officier of the Legion of Honor
M. le Consul Général, Cher Philippe – whom I’d like to thank for being such a gracious host,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My dear Elizabeth,
It’s a great pleasure to welcome you tonight to the Consulate for this ceremony in honor of Elizabeth Stribling, an exceptional individual, a world-class professional and a great friend of France.
I must admit that I’m particularly delighted and proud this evening: on a personal level, because I’ve enjoyed a long friendship with Elizabeth, for whom Sophie and I have a deep admiration ; and in an official capacity, because France will this evening express its gratitude to one of its most fervent supporters.
I would like to extend a warm welcome to Elizabeth’s family and friends who have joined us tonight to show their support and admiration.
With a special word of thanks to her husband Guy Robinson, to whom I also want to pay tribute this evening – Cher Guy, we owe you so much too.
A warm word of welcome also to Elizabeth’s daughter, Elizabeth-Ann, whom Sophie and I had the privilege to meet a few years ago, and to her stepdaughter Phoebe.
May I also recognize the President of French Heritage Society Denis de Kergolay – whom I’d like to warmly congratulate on having been named Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur a few days ago ; the several members of the Board of French Heritage Society who are with us this evening and our Cultural Counsellor Antonin Baudry.
You studied literature at the prestigious Vassar College and at the no less prestigious Cambridge University, and these brilliant studies set the tone for your future endeavours. You became involved in real estate very early on and that is a passion that has stayed with you ever since.
After a spell with Whitbread-Nolan, where your professionalism and talent ensured that you very quickly became known and appreciated by New York clients, you decided, at the age of 36, to establish your own real estate brokerage firm, Stribling & Associates.
In 1999 you created a sister company, Stribling Marketing Associates, specializing in real estate project development and building conversions. Stribling Private Brockerage is also part of the equation. Today, with 3 offices and more than 250 employees, you’ve achieved an impressive level of success commensurate with your talent and dynamism. Stribling & Associates is not only a great success story, it is also one of the most highly regarded residential real estate firms in Manhattan.
Over 30 years, you have indeed forged an outstanding reputation. You were notably a pioneer in luxury real estate, dealing with the most beautiful Manhattan properties, from The Plaza’s Private Residences to Devonshire House in Greenwich Village. In this particular niche, you have become the go-to person when it comes to buying property in Manhattan, and now Brooklyn as well.
While you are a formidable businesswoman, unanimously recognized by your peers, you are also passionate about culture, the arts and historic preservation. You serve on the boards of many organizations, including the New York Landmarks Conservancy, the Women’s Committee of Central Park Conservancy, the Drama League of New York, and Cambridge University.
You are also a very generous philanthropist, and it should come as no surprise that you have received the Women of Achievement Award of the American Cancer Society and the Spirit of Achievement Award of Yeshiva College’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Even more importantly – at least for us tonight – is your love affair with France, which has really become your second home. You are not only a bridge across the Atlantic between our two countries but through your quintessentially Parisian distinction and your Provencal joie de vivre, you are a wonderful ambassador for my country.
Everything drew you toward my country, starting with the fact that your grandmother’s maiden name was “French”, which is therefore your middle name.
I am told that you first fell in love with France because of the food, and that you studied with Marcella Hazan, Julia Child, James Beard, Simone Beck. Indeed, it was by taking classes with Simone Beck at her home in the Alpes-Maritimes that you discovered the village of Plascassier, near Grasse.
For more than 30 years, you have spent every summer in the house you bought there, and your daughter Elizabeth-Ann - to whom you imparted your love of France -was baptized there. Those cooking classes left you with a deep attachment to Provence (in addition to Paris, where you have an apartment) and with a real talent for gourmet cooking: Your rack of lamb, one of the great classics of French gastronomy, is legendary.
You are a great Francophile, a true “Francophile-in-Chief” so to speak. You have continuously endeavored to master the beauties and difficulties of our language, whether through classes at the Alliance Française, by watching the news on TV5 every morning in New York, or by reading Nice Matin during your summers in Plascassier. Even your Jack Russell terrier understands French!
You are a tireless, enthusiastic contributor to many cultural
and charitable French-American organizations.
A board member of the American Hospital in Paris, a member of the French-American Foundation and the Paris-American Club, you are also a patron of the American Friends of Blérancourt, the Louvre, and the Paris Opera, Columbia’s Maison Française, and the Lyric Arts Festival in Aix-en-Provence. These many commitments attest to your eclectic tastes and to the depth of your passion for French culture in its many forms.
I can’t conclude this portrait without highlighting your grand adventure with the French Heritage Society, where you serve as chairman of the Board of Directors.
In its 30 years of existence, this organization has helped restore more than 500 historical monuments in France and the United States, beginning with the magnificent coffered ceiling under which we stand today.
I was Consul General in New York at that time and I remember how hard we worked together, with you and Odile de Longchampt in particular (Odile and Michel are also with us tonight) to raise funds and reach our goal. A total of nine million dollars in direct assistance have been spent in France and the United States, thanks to your society.
You and the French Heritage Society have made these châteaux, churches and gardens your own splendid heritage that you are bequeathing to our children. You have given new momentum to the FHS, expanding the dimensions of its work and its activities, particularly with respect to training. Because as you yourself say so well, restoring the heritage is pointless if future generations don’t have the skills to preserve it.
According to your daughter, you are as patriotic toward the United States, the country of your birth, as toward France, your adopted country. That attachment to France is one more thing you share with Guy Robinson, who himself hails from a major Francophile family.
Chère Elizabeth, you received the insignia of Officer of the National Order of Merit in 2007. Today, in recognition of your exemplary commitment to French-American friendship and to France, its language, its culture and the preservation of its heritage, I have the great honor to bestow upon you the insignia of Officer of the Legion of Honor.
The Legion of Honor was created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte to reward outstanding services rendered to France and extraordinary accomplishments. It is France’s highest award and one of the most coveted distinctions in the world.
And the rank of Officier is truly exceptional and reserved for the very few – the crème de la crème.
Elizabeth Stribling, au nom du Président de la République, nous vous faisons Officier de la Légion d’Honneur./.