From the New York Times 29 May 1962
"Mrs. Aida de Acosta Breckinridge, executive director of the Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration for its first ten years, died yesterday in her home on Baldwin Road. Her age was 80.
Mrs. Breckinridge had been a leader in many causes, the most dramatic of which was the eye bank. It provides a center where human corneas can be stored until they are transplanted. From 1945 until she retired in 1955, it had received 4,500 human eyes. In a large percentage of the corneal graft operations sight was restored.
It was the first such center here, but other cities now have similar banks.
Mrs. Breckinridge was born in Elberon, N.J., and attended the Sacred Heart Convent in Paris. It was there in 1903 that she became the first woman to solo in a powered balloon. She had been instructed by a young Brazilian, Alberto Santos-Dumont, and flew five miles while he signalled directions to her from the ground.
Mrs. Breckinridge was rushed home by her parents, and her reputation as the first woman pilot was quickly obscured in welfare activities, beginning with a milk fund for New York children. During World War I, she sold $2,000,000 in Liberty Bonds; and after the armistice worked abroad for the American committee for Devastated France.
Shortly after she returned to the United States her eyesight began to fail because of glaucoma. The disease was partially alleviated by Dr. William Howard Wilmer of Washington. During her convalescence, she began a campaign to further his research.
Through former patients and friends, she led a campaign that raised $3,000,000 to establish the Wilmer Opthalmological Institute at Johns Hopkins University, as a teaching and research center, and the first eye institute in the country.
Mrs. Breckinridge then became director of publications and promotion for the Child Health Association. In this capacity she initiated the idea of celebrating May 1 as Child Health Day. It was first proclaimed by President Coolidge in 1928.
In 1935, Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia named her chairman of a new Municipal Art Committee, formed to "stimulate the artistic life and expression of the city." For the next five years, she promoted exhibits in a municipal art gallery, operas in city schools, and song contests, and edited the city's art magazine called "Exhibition." She also edited a calendar of the city's first Summer Festival, listing the city's cultural activities. She headed the committe until 1939.
Mrs. Breckinridge also was a former director of the Frontier Nursing Service, of the medical service division of the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor and of the New York committee of the National War Fund. As director of the space and advertising of the American Red Cross, she persuaded advertisers to promote the Red Cross.
In 1940, Mrs. Breckinridge was chairman of the women's division of the Associated Wilkie Clubs of America, which aided the unsuccessful Presidential campaign of Wendell L. Wilkie.
Her first marriage, to Oren Root, ended in divorce. In 1927 she was married to Henry Breckinridge, a lawyer and a former Assistant Secretary of War. This marriage also ended in divorce.
Surviving are a son, Oren Root, and a daugter, Mrs. Charles H. Bound (Alva Root)."
Aida was the sister of Rita Lydig and Mercedes de Acosta.
Later in life, after losing sight in one eye to glaucoma, she became an advocate for improved eye care and was executive director of the first eye bank in America.
Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.
Aida is 27 degrees from Rosa Parks, 22 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 15 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.