Anna Bush Hart, 87, formerly of West Mount Airy, a teacher, died Wednesday, Sept. 23, of heart failure in Arbor Terrace at Chestnut Hill.
Known as "Ann," Mrs. Hart was born in Waterbury, Conn., and lived there under difficult circumstances during the Depression. In school, a teacher recognized her keen intellect and encouraged her to pursue advanced education.
She graduated from high school as valedictorian at age 17. She received a full scholarship to Smith College, an Ivy League-level women's college in Massachusetts, and became the first in her family to attend college.
After graduation, she married Henry Hart Jr. of Williamstown, Mass. They had two children, Henry and Elizabeth. The marriage ended in divorce.
With the encouragement of her former professors at Smith, Mrs. Hart returned to to the school and obtained a master's degree while teaching history and French at Amherst (Mass.) Regional High School.
She then applied for and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study French history in Dijon, France. She packed up her household and sailed for Europe on the SS United States with her two young children.
The youngsters didn't speak French, but they learned quickly, said daughter-in-law Sarah Hart.
After returning to America in 1965, she resumed teaching French, this time at Germantown Friends School.
"When her grandson, Rich, later taught at Germantown Friends School, she greatly enjoyed being escorted by him to the faculty holiday parties," her family said in a tribute.
In 1984, she accepted a position at the University of Pennsylvania as coordinator of various international fellowships and an assistant to the school's foreign scholars. She retired in 1990.
Her daughter, Elizabeth, recalled her mother as a vivacious, adventurous woman and a remarkable chef. At Thanksgiving there was turkey and goose, at other times a roast suckling pig.
"She loved cooking, trying exotic recipes, and hosting elaborate feasts for friends, family, and international visitors, and yet managed to make these remarkable meals and joyous gatherings seem effortless," her daughter said.
Sarah Hart, who knows her way around a kitchen, said she tried to create the same dishes as her mother-in-law - with mixed results. "You're no Nana," she said the family told her.
Until the last few years, Mrs. Hart traveled the world with her daughter or friends.
She also doted on her four grandchildren, taking them to museums, making their favorite meals, teaching them to cook, and giving them exotic items from her trips.
Besides her daughter and grandchildren, she is survived by two great-grandchildren. Her son, Henry III, died April 18. Mrs. Hart's former husband died 24 years ago.
A memorial service in the Quaker way is to be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, in Germantown Monthly Meeting, 47 W. Coulter St., Philadelphia 19144. Burial was private.
Donations may be made to the Germantown Monthly Meeting at the address above.