Mica Ertegun, Glamorous Interior Designer and Philanthropist, Dies at 97

After Mr. Ertegun died in 2006 of injuries suffered in a fall backstage at a Rolling Stones concert in Manhattan, his wife continued the couple’s philanthropies. In 2015, her $9 million gift created an atrium for Jazz at Lincoln Center. In 2017, her $1.4 million pledge helped restore a substructure under the fourth-century Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, a site where, according to Christian traditions, the body of Christ was entombed. In recognition of that gift, she was named grand commander of the Holy Sepulcher by the patriarch of Jerusalem.

Her $41 million gift for humanities scholarships at the University of Oxford in 2012 was the largest of its kind in Oxford’s 900 years. In 2017, in recognition of her services to philanthropy, education and British-American cultural relations, Queen Elizabeth II made her an honorary commander of the Order of the British Empire.

“For Ahmet and for me, one of the great joys of life has been the study of history, music, languages, literature, art and archaeology,” Mrs. Ertegun said at the time. “I believe it is tremendously important to support those things that endure across time and make the world a more humane place.”

Mica Ertegun was born Ioana Maria Banu in Bucharest, Romania, on Oct. 21, 1926, the only child of Natalia Gologan and Dr. Gheorghe Banu. Her father, who served in a 1930s cabinet of King Carol II, was close to King Michael I during World War II, when Romania was at times allied with Hitler. Amid Allied air raids, Mica, as her German nurse called her, was sent to the family’s country estate.

In January 1948, after the king was forced to abdicate and her father was imprisoned by the new Communist government, Mica and Stefan Grecianu, an aristocrat 15 years her senior whom she had married when she was 16, were put on a train that carried the royal family into exile. Traveling on stateless refugee passports, the couple arrived, penniless, in Zurich.

Friends put them up for a year at the majestic Dolder Grand hotel, overlooking the Swiss Alps. Others paid their fares to Paris, where Mica got modeling jobs to support them. Later, more friends lent them money to move to Canada. They settled on a farm on the shore of Lake Ontario, where for eight years Mica helped to collect, wash and box the eggs of 5,000 chickens.