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British-born Valentine Vester, who witnessed history as the proprietor of one of the Middle East's most storied hotels, has died the age of 96.

Vester (nee Richmond) spent the last years of her life in an apartment on the manicured grounds of the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem, which her family took over in the early 1960s.

The hotel has served for decades as a favorite hangout for diplomats and foreign correspondents and as a backdrop for political intrigue.

Born in 1912 in Britain, Vester came to Jerusalem in the 1960s with her husband Horatio, the grandson of the Colony's founders. Her husband died in the 1980s

Vester went on to live through much of the upheaval that shaped the modern Mideast. In 1967, she saw her hotel move from Jordanian to Israeli control.

Nicholas Vester said of his mother that she had "learned to really hate people who make wars."

Vester is survived by two sons, Nicholas of London and Paul of California, and numerous grandchildren. She will be buried beside her husband in a plot near the Mount of Olives.