Lillian Lee McKim was born Nov. 10, 1931, in Roslyn, N.Y., the second of three daughters of Robert and Lillian McKim. Her mother, whose maiden name was Bostwick, was an heiress to the Standard Oil fortune and left her husband for the racing enthusiast Ogden Phipps in 1937.
Lilly and her sisters, Mimsy and Flossie, had a privileged upbringing, attending the Chapin School in New York and Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Conn. Lilly briefly attended college, but left to work as a nurse’s aide.
While on vacation in Palm Beach, she met Herbert Pulitzer Jr., known as Peter, a dashingly handsome grandson of the publisher Joseph Pulitzer, and shocked her family by eloping with him in 1952. The young couple settled among the citrus groves of the Pulitzer estate, holding wild parties and generally ignoring whatever was expected of them from their society peers.