Yvonne Sursock Cochrane, a leading advocate of arts and cultural heritage in Lebanon, has died at the age of 98 after sustaining injuries in the Beirut port explosion last month.
“We’re deeply saddened by the passing of Lady Yvonne Sursock Cochrane, who campaigned tirelessly for the preservation of Lebanon’s architectural heritage throughout her life”, a statement from the Sursock Museum, which she helped develop, said.
Cochrane, who died on Monday on the eve of Lebanon’s centenary, was a pioneer in developing awareness of the architectural and cultural heritage of Lebanon.
The only daughter of the Lebanese aristocrat Alfred Bey Sursock and his Italian wife, Donna Maria Theresa, she founded the Association for the Protection of Natural Sites and Ancient Homes in Lebanon (APSAD), and was its president from 1960 to 2002.
“We come from a country that unfortunately has no memory. And without memory, we will have no future,” Cochrane said in an undated video posted by the Sursock Museum’s instagram page on Tuesday.
The explosion killed more than 190 people, injured 6,000 and destroyed entire neighborhoods, including several of her family’s buildings.
Cochrane was the chairwoman of the Sursock Museum committee from 1960 to 1966, and was a pivotal figure its development in its early years.
Her historic mansion, one of the architectural jewels of the city and a pillar of its cultural calendar, was very badly damaged in the blast.
According to UNESCO, 640 historic buildings were severely damaged by the explosion and 60 are at risk of collapse.