WASHINGTON — Evangeline Bruce, who reigned over Washington society for more than 30 years, died of a heart attack Tuesday evening while resting in her Georgetown house. She was 77.
Bruce, author of “Napoleon and Josephine: An Improbable Marriage,” was the wife of the late David Bruce, one of America’s leading statesmen during the post-World War II era. She accompanied him to Paris, London and Bonn, where he served as ambassador, and also to Beijing, where he acted as liaison when the U.S. opened relations with China.
Bruce set a style that combined New World insouciance with Old World charm. Throughout her life, she served as an ambassador of high society, whether it was summering with Marietta Tree in Provence, entertaining friends like George Weidenfeld and Diana Phipps in her Belgravia apartment in London, or hosting elegant Sunday brunches in Georgetown, which became the litmus test of who was in and out in Washington.
Bruce’s social power resided in her ability to mix old friends with new, rising talents from the worlds of fashion, politics and literature.
“She was unique and highly intelligent,” remembered Katherine Graham. “She wasn’t in anybody’s mold. She had an individual beauty and her own style.”
Bill Blass agreed.
“She had a wonderful sense of style,” he recalled. “It had nothing to do with current fashion, but it was soft, romantic and mystical.”
Services will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. John’s Church, O St., in Georgetown.