DES MOINES, Iowa -- The ex-wife of former Vice President Henry A. Wallace's son lost her appeal today to boost a $2.3 million divorce settlement.
Mrs. Wallace, who said she lost her husband's affections after a double mastectomy, had sought half of the $15.5 million holdings of her former husband, Henry Browne Wallace, 65, of Colorado Springs. She grew up in 'humble' surroundings with no indoor plumbing, court records said.
But the Iowa Court of Appeals upheld the earlier award of Polk County District Court Anthony M. Critelli.
Lawyers for Mrs. Wallace, 54, who has been married five times, said she did all she could to make her marriage a success. 'There is absolutely no evidence that Mrs. Wallace was other than a fine woman and that she made every effort to make this marriage a happy and contented one,' court papers said.
'When she was afflicted with a physical problem (cancer) that necessitated a double mastectomy, her husband's interest diminished and he began to look elsewhere for companionship.'
Wallace's net worth is estimated at $15.5 million. He is the former manager of Hy-Line International, a laying hen company. Court records indicate his wealth came almost exclusively from gifts from his mother and inheritance of Pioneer Hy-Bred International stock from his father, a vice president under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his third term.
Mrs. Wallace's background was somewhat different, the appeals court noted.
'From life in a humble dwelling with no indoor plumbing, Betty J. Wallace assumed a position in high society with virtually unlimited power to purchase whatever she pleased whenever she wished to do so,' the ruling said.
'Although the income which the court considered necessary to enable the wife to sustain the life-style to which she had become accustomed is very large by the standards of most persons,' the ruling continued, 'the life-style to which she had become accustomed was very different from that of most persons.
'Moreover, the award was not unreasonable in light of the assets available to the husband, did not diminish appreciably any opportunities for investment or spending that he might have wanted to pursue and did not frustrate the intentions of those who originally gave or bequeathed those assets to him.'