Ava Lowle Willing

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Ava Lowle Willing
Boldini - Ava Astor.jpg
Born (1868-09-15)September 15, 1868
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died June 9, 1958(1958-06-09) (aged 89)
Spouse(s) John Jacob Astor IV
(m. 1891–1909; divorced)
Thomas Lister
(m. 1919–1925; his death)
Children William Vincent Astor
Ava Alice Muriel Astor
Parent(s) Edward Shippen Willing
Alice Barton
Relatives Ivan Sergeyevich Obolensky (grandson)

Ava Lowle Willing (September 15, 1868 – June 9, 1958) was an American socialite. She was the first wife of Colonel John Jacob Astor IV.


Ava Lowle Willing was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Edward Shippen Willing (1822-1906) and his wife, the former Alice Barton.[1] She had two siblings, Susan Ridgway Willing (Mrs. Francis Cooper Lawrence, Jr.) and John Rhea Barton Willing.

She married Colonel John Jacob "Jack" Astor IV, son of William Backhouse Astor, Jr. and Caroline Webster "Lina" Schermerhorn, in February 1891 in Philadelphia. The newlywed couple was given, among many lavish gifts, a furnished townhouse on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Though the marriage was tumultuous, the Astors had two children, William Vincent Astor (b. Nov 15, 1891) and Ava Alice Muriel Astor (b. July 7, 1902).

On November 19, 1909, Ava sued Jack for divorce and March 5, 1910 the State of New York decreed in her favor.[2] Their son lived with his father before leaving to attend Harvard University. Their daughter would be raised by her mother. In the second year of Vincent's education, Jack became one of the RMS Titanic casualties while returning from his honeymoon with his new bride, socialite Madeleine Talmage Force. This event left young Vincent as one of the wealthiest men in the United States. On August 14, 1912, Madeleine would give birth to socialite John Jacob "Jakey" Astor VI.

In 1911, she and her daughter moved to England where she would become the second wife of Thomas Lister in 1919. Lister died on October 21, 1925. Ava had no children from her second marriage, and she did not remarry. She later reclaimed her American citizenship after returning to the United States.

Ava died on June 9, 1958 in New York City.[3] She left a token bequest to her son, Vincent, but the bulk of her estate was left to her daughter Ava's four children: Prince Ivan Sergeyevich Obolensky, Princess Sylvia Obolensky, Romana von Hofmannsthal, and Emily Harding.


  1. ^ "Will of E. S. Willing. Son Gets Bulk of Estate. The Daughters $225,000 Each." (PDF). New York Times. April 27, 1906. Retrieved 2008-08-11. The bulk of the $1,000,000 left by Edward S. Willing, who died at his residence, 510 South Broad Street, on April 10, is devised to his son, John R. Barton Willing, and his two daughters, Ava Lowle Willing Astor, wife of John Jacob Astor, and Susan Ridgway Willing Lawrence, widow of Francis Cooper Lawrence, Jr. 
  2. ^ "Would Probably Share $100,000,000 Estate with Stepmother in Event of His Father's Death.". New York Times. April 17, 1912. Retrieved 2008-08-11. Mrs. Ava Willing Astor, obtained her divorce from John Jacob Astor, in November, 1909 
  3. ^ "Lady Ribblesdale Dead. First Wife of John Jacob Astor IV. Mother of Vincent Astor.". New York Times. June 11, 1958. Retrieved 2008-08-11. Ava Willing Ribblesdale, she took up residence here. She continued to be listed in the telephone directory as Lady Ribblesdale.....