Anita H. Salembier

Dec. 10, 1921 - Feb. 01, 2018

Anita Higgins Salembier, a longtime summer resident of Egypt Lane, died last Thursday at home in Locust Valley. Mrs. Salembier, who was 96, had become ill with pneumonia the week before her death.

As a young woman she had worked for the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency, during World War II, translating French and German telegrams. 

Mrs. Salembier was president of the North Country Garden Club of Long Island and the Garden Club of East Hampton. Her family said that in addition to gardening, she enjoyed playing tennis and golf, and skiing. They said that she would be remembered for her energy and quick wit.

A descendant of Jonathan Trumbull, the 16th governor of Connecticut, Anita Higgins was born in New York City on Dec. 10, 1921, to the former Claire Trumbull van Lennep and Charles Higgins, an architect. She attended the Hewitt School in Manhattan and the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pa. In 1941, she made her debut at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. At Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, she studied languages and earned a bachelor’s degree. 

After Sarah Lawrence, she put her European language skills to use, taking the job with the O.S.S. After the war she moved back to Manhattan, and in 1947 married Charles Coe Townsend Jr. They had five children, four of whom survive. 

The marriage ended in divorce, and in 1973 she married Harold P. Salembier of New York City and East Hampton. They lived in Oyster Bay and East Hampton Village.

Her children Charles C. Townsend III of Barrington, R.I., Frederic Townsend of Lake Bluff, Ill., James B. Townsend of Oyster Bay, and Claire Townsend Bacher of Santa Cruz, Calif., survive, as do 13 grandchildren. Her son Benjamin Hewitt Townsend died before her.

A funeral service will be held on Saturday morning at 11 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cold Spring Harbor. She will be buried in the church cemetery. Memorial donations have been suggested to St. John’s Church, 1670 Route 25A, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. 11724.