On An Even Keel

updated 06/16/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/16/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

In the last chapter of her life, Jackie abandoned adventure and found stability, reveling in the mundane world of taxis and office buildings as much as in the privileged sphere of horse farms and her vacation compound on Martha's Vineyard. When she returned to New York City in 1975 from the indolence of Skorpios, she embraced the energy of Manhattan. With her primary job, the raising of her children, accomplished, Jackie went to work three days a week as an editor, first at Viking, then at Doubleday.

Often dressed in leggings, she sat in a modest, windowless office, shepherding writers through a dozen books a year. Those who were intimidated by her gently smiling presence in the corridors, the kitchen—even at the copy machine—were quickly calmed. "Jackie made it easy," says Doubleday president Stephen Rubin. "She was tremendously warm and accessible."

Her maternal nature was now applied to nurturing authors; but as an editor, she could be tough. After reading the first draft of Michael Jackson's 1988 autobiography, Moonwalk, she told the pop star, "Look, we can't go on with this puff," remembers Doubleday designer J.C. Suarès. "She said, 'We're going to have to fix this up or we're all going to look like fools.' "

On the rare occasions that Jackie took up a cause, she attacked it as she did one of her books. In 1975, she joined a crusade to save Grand Central Terminal from a plan to erect a building that would obscure its facade. "By standing up and speaking out," said Municipal Art Society president Kent L. Barwick, "she made it a success."

It was in private, though, that she found her greatest happiness—with Maurice Tempelsman, a Belgian-born financier and diamond merchant who parlayed her holdings into an estimated-S200 million fortune. Married, though separated from his wife, Tempelsman. 64, remained steadfastly by Jackie's side for well over a decade, longer than JFK or Onassis. Described by a friend as "very dignified and intellectual," Tempelsman "made you feel like the most important person in the world."

To him, there was nobody more important than Jackie. "He respected her privacy and bandaged the wounds," says a friend. "With Maurice, she was at peace."

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