Anna Howe Stead, a native and longtime resident of Auburn, died peacefully on Saturday, February 14th in Burlington, Vermont after a short illness. She had been visiting her daughter in Underhill Center, Vermont.
Born in 1918, she was the daughter of Robert C. and Esther E. (Scott) Howe of Auburn.
She grew up in Auburn, and, in 1936, was valedictorian of Auburn High School’s first graduating class and the first editor of The Green Dome, the school newspaper.
Anna was first in her class and class president for each of her first three years at Worcester State College. In 1939, near the end of her junior year, she married Albert Stead. She was then informed that students who marry had their enrollments automatically terminated by the college. She was eventually granted permission to return for her senior year after a one-year leave of absence.
Her college major was French, taught by Professor (later Dean) Marguerite McKelligett. They formed a close friendship which endured until Miss McKelligett’s death. Years later Anna founded the McKelligett Memorial Lecture Series at the College, and headed the committee that guided it for its first 12 years. She brought many noted writers to give lectures, including poet Mary Oliver and author Nicholas Gage.
Between 1940 and 1949 she became the mother of five children. She returned to a teaching career in 1953, and taught English and mathematics in Holden and then in Worcester while she earned a Master’s degree from Clark University. For thirty-five years she taught mathematics in Worcester schools, including Burncoat, Classical, and Doherty High Schools. Some summers she directed the Worcester Natural History Museum’s Nature Training School in Paxton. For several years she also taught communication skills at the Memorial Hospital School of Nursing. With her students Anna was kind, wise, and generous with her time, always striving to discover what she could give that they could use. Some of her students became dear, lifelong friends.
She was innovative in developing ways to introduce students to important issues. Besides the many student field trips she guided, she organized a teach-in on “The Roots of Prejudice”, and also organized a school-wide program at Doherty High School for the first Earth Day. She was especially pleased when informed by the school administration that the day was the first in school history that no student had been reported to the principal for misbehavior or skipping classes!
Anna was a prolific letter writer who also produced numerous essays and reminiscences, including a history of the Auburn Women’s Club and a short biography of Clara Barton. She declined to use a word processor because, she said, she liked to think about what she was writing. Portrait, a collection of her Haiku and poems composed over the last thirty years, was published in 2013.
She was a member of the Auburn Women’s Club, served as President of the Auburn Historical Society, and was a Trustee of the Auburn Library for many years. She also volunteered at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall. She had high regard and affection for Worcester State University, where she was honored with its first Distinguished Alumna Award in 1988.
Despite her lifelong, wide-ranging fascination with the world, Anna had a demonstrated conviction that family and friendships are the two greatest treasures of life.
Anna leaves five children: Robert and his wife Elinor of Charlton, MA; David of NYC; Jean Howe of Hanover, NH; Judith Munger of Norwich, VT; and Essie Howe and her husband Michael Oman of Underhill Center, VT.
Anna leaves her dear sister, Nancy Howe Hodgden of Shrewsbury, MA. She was pre-deceased by her sister Janice Howe King.
She leaves 9 grandchildren: Robert Stead of Bloomfield Hills, MI; David Stead and wife Suzanne of Worcester, MA; Andrew Stead and wife Sharon of Sharon, MA; Rebecca Stead and husband Sean O’Brien of NYC; Jonathan Stead and wife Stephanie Wu of NYC; Jason McGuckin of Lebanon, NH; Shannon Munger and husband Tom Hunton of Lyme, NH; Jill Mauldin and husband Bill of White Rock, NM; and Zachary Howe Tellstone and partner Lisa Dame of Underhill, VT.
She leaves 16 great-grandchildren : Ryan, Daniel, Christina, Jessica, Addison, Jack, Eli, Melanie, Sarai, MacKenzie, Katherine, Matthew, Nicholas, Sierra, Dylan, and Jackson.
She leaves two nephews: Jon King of Auburn, MA; and Richard King and his wife Donna of Bonita Springs, FL, ; and a niece: Jennifer Hodgden of Eugene, OR.
She leaves treasured cousins, great nieces and nephews and many dear friends. She will be greatly missed.
A Memorial Service is planned for April 11, 2015, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester, MA, 90 Holden Street, at 1PM. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to the Boston-based charity Partners In Health.