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Rachel 'Bunny' Mellon dies at 103; heiress tied to John Edwards scandal

Rachel 'Bunny' Mellon dies at 103; heiress tied to John Edwards scandal
Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, a philanthropist and self-taught botanist whose role in the John Edwards scandal brought publicty she always sought to avoid, has died at 103. She is shown here with her stepdaughter, Eliza, and husband, Paul Mellon, in 1964. (Associated Press)

Rachel “Bunny” Lambert Mellon, the heiress, philanthropist and horticulturist who was a confidante of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and became a central figure in the trial of John Edwards by using her money to hide his mistress during his 2008 presidential campaign, has died at her Virginia estate. She was 103. 

Her death was confirmed by her assistant, Tony Willis.

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Mellon was the granddaughter of the inventor of Listerine who gained even greater wealth when she married banking scion Paul Mellon. Known for her impeccable taste, she was a mentor to Jacqueline Kennedy, who sought her decorating advice when Kennedy was a young senator's wife. Mellon later led a redesign of the White House Rose Garden that was hailed for its simple elegance.

In her last years she became a subject of tabloid fascination as one of Edwards’ main benefactors. Edwards used more than $700,000 of money she donated for his personal expenses to support his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter. Mellon did not testify at Edwards' 2012 corruption trial, which ended in acquittal and mistrial.

A full obituary will appear at www.latimes.com/obituaries.

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