Anne Ewing, 78, of Mount Airy, an activist on many fronts - including education, immigration, and race relations - all with the common goal of justice, died Thursday of pancreatic cancer.

Born Anne Louise Constant in Oklahoma City, Okla., Mrs. Ewing graduated from Radcliffe College and went on to earn a master's degree from Harvard University.

She taught in a range of elementary schools, from the affluent on the Main Line to the sparest in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

"She had a strong belief in justice and concern for justice," said her husband, Bill Ewing, a retired lawyer who shared her passions. "We both inspired each other."

The two met while studying at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, from 1961 to 1962.

What caught Ewing's eye and his heart about the woman who would be his wife, he said, was "her warmth, her intelligence, her wit and concern for others."

After the two wed in 1962, they moved to Mount Airy, drawn to a neighborhood that was integrated and where "people cared for and looked out for each other," Ewing said.

His wife soon joined the community group East Mount Airy Neighbors. Later, she was elected as a consumer member to the Philadelphia board of the Regional Comprehensive Health Planning Council. In that role, she helped bring burn centers to the former St. Agnes Hospital in South Philadelphia and Crozer-Keystone Hospital in Delaware County. Mrs. Ewing was also a board member for the Mt. Airy Village Development Corporation (now Mt. Airy USA), and Mount Airy Community Living.

Schools were another passion.

"She cared a lot about education and advocated for better funding for schools," her husband said.

When the Philadelphia School District experienced strikes in the early 1980s, Mrs. Ewing turned her porch into a school. Literally. At the "Porch School," students learned from volunteer teachers whom Mrs. Ewing recruited.

She was also active in the First United Methodist Church of Germantown. Through the Methodist Association for Social Action she pushed for the church to support progressive causes, such as LGBT equality and inclusion within the denomination.

Even while battling cancer, she still made it to church, said Celeste Zappala, 69, a friend and member of the congregation.

"I don't meet people like her," Zappala said. " . . . She was a queen, she was a warrior."

Mrs. Ewing also had a strong creative side, expressing herself through sewing and cooking. She made banners for protests, ties for the men in the family, and prom dresses for her two daughters, Rebecca Ewing and Susannah Ewing Boelke.

"She was a Renaissance woman," Rebecca Ewing said. "She taught me how to cook, sew and change a tire."

Mrs. Ewing organized concerts and demonstrations for the nuclear-freeze movement and anti-war efforts. When First United Methodist Church of Germantown demonstrated against what it considered unjust application of federal immigration law that resulted in the denial of asylum to refugees, and provided sanctuary for a Guatemalan family Mrs. Ewing was among those leading the effort.

"She devoted her life to justice," her husband said. "And she wasn't a theoretical person. She wanted to get things done."

Her advocacy was recognized many times, resulting in her receiving the First United Methodist Church of Germantown Racial and Social Justice Award, the East Mount Airy Neighbors' Edgar Baker Award, and the Northwest Interfaith Movement Award for Advocacy and Service.

In addition to her husband and daughters, Mrs. Ewing is survived by a brother, and two granddaughters.

A memorial service will be held on Thursday, March 24, at 2 p.m. at First United Methodist Church of Germantown.

Donations may be made to Reconciling Ministries Network, or to Project HOME,


Staff writer Jill Castellano contributed to this obituary.