Clara Hasbrouck served for seventeen years as a member of Frost Valley’s Board of Trustees, after succeeding the influential trusteeship of her late husband Dr. William E. Morthland. The Frost Valley/Morthland connection had been made first through the fine art of Catskills trout fishing; the Morthlands had purchased property in Woodstock and it wasn’t long before they had discovered our beautiful Neversink River, long a mecca for serious fishermen and -women in the area. When Clara succeeded Bill as a trustee, she was asked to take responsibility for sorting through the furnishings of the recently acquired home at the Straus-Guggenheim estate, “the Straus House.” She dispatched that project so selflessly and so well that before long the Forstmann Castle was added to her portfolio. “When I took over the Castle, it was a mess,” she recently recalled. “Draperies were falling off the rods. Everything needed attention. It was a great challenge to me, and I like challenges, and that’s why I developed an enduring interest in the fate of this historically important building.” Working with Marie Hess and Executive Director Halbe Brown, Clara spent arduous days sorting through the Castle attic, removing truckloads of junk, rediscovering important pieces in the dust, and (not incidentally) ridding the place of bats. Clara had been an active member of National Trust for Historic Preservation, and now she persuasively applied its principles of conservancy to Frost Valley’s unique place in Catskills history. Working with Woody English, the legendary President of the Board of that era, she promulgated the commitment to the Castle’s preservation and its permanent use for schoolchildren and summer campers as a living-learning lab for encountering local social history.
Clara was for decades a successful corporate accountant, holding various positions over the years such as assistant corporate treasurer and office manager. Later she took clients and directed a thriving personal accounting business, handling more than a dozen trust funds. Following Dr. Morthland’s death, Clara married Brigadier General Sherman Hasbrouck, who later passed away in 2002. Clara retired, remarkably, at 88 years of age. Now a nanogenarian, she has lost none of her acute interest in what Frost Valley does for children and families. “Frost Valley has a genuine purpose,” she recently remarked. “It serves adults and children and does it so well. I want people to know what an inspiration it was for me to work on behalf of Frost Valley. It was and is a happy place.”
Those who visit the Forstmann Castle today will discover a lovingly conserved and restored mansion—its balconies rebuilt by hand, its complex roof secure, its grand porch strengthened and renovated, its remarkable peg-and-groove floors polished and immaculate. As one enters this astonishing piece of history—all the more astonishing for its being part of a camp—one encounters, in part, the legacy of a strong woman who knew not just how but also why she wanted to help. By unanimous vote of the Frost Valley Board of Trustees, we honor Clara Hasbrouck at her induction into the Frost Valley Hall of Fame for her unwavering commitment to preservation and stewardship. We note that when she first saw the state of the old house, her first thought was this: “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” Today we honor her as a friend indeed—not just a friend of our stately mansion but of everyone at Frost Valley who cherishes stewardship as a core value.