Edith Ferry Hooper, 85, philanthropist

June 04, 1995|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Edith Ferry Hooper, widely recognized for her interest in contemporary architecture and art and her philanthropic support educational and cultural institutions in Baltimore, died May 27 of Alzheimer's disease at Brightwood Retirement Community in Brooklandville. She was 85.

Mrs. Hooper moved to Baltimore from New York after her 1945 marriage to Arthur Upshur Hooper, a partner in the law firm of Hooper, Kiefer, Cornell & O'Ferrall. Mr. Hooper died in 1976.

Mrs. Hooper spent the next four decades channeling her energy, time and money into such institutions as the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Bryn Mawr School, St. Paul's School for Girls and Planned Parenthood of Maryland.

"Edie Hooper was one of the most extraordinary women I have ever met," said Brenda Richardson, deputy director of art and curator of modern painting and sculpture at the Baltimore

Museum of Art. The museum named a wing in Mrs. Hooper's honor in 1981 because of her support of modern art.

She served one of the longest tenures as a BMA trustee, having been on the board continuously from 1957 to 1995.

"She was not only an art lover and patron but wanted to do nothing more than give and give generously without any strings attached to her numerous gifts," Ms. Richardson said.

An interest in education led to a strong connection with Bryn Mawr School, where she was president of the board of trustees from 1963 to 1970. She spearheaded the building of a lower school for Bryn Mawr.

"She really was responsible as a donor and fund-raiser for the existence and completion of the new lower school," said Nanette M. Holben, director of development at the girls' private school in North Baltimore.

Mrs. Hooper engaged the noted Hungarian-born architect Marcel Breuer to design the lower school building.

Earlier, Mr. Breuer designed additions to the Hoopers' old Mount Washington home, and later he designed for the Hoopers a house in the woods above Lake Roland in Bare Hills, where Mrs. Hooper lived for more than three decades.

In a 1963 article in The Sun, this Copper Hill Road home was said to be "as much a reflection of Mrs. Hooper's subtly discriminating taste as it is an achievement of a great architect. The house is designed to be a simple but strong piece of sculpture."

"When her Breuer home was built it was a real show-stopper in town and is still one of the more significant houses in Baltimore," said Walter Schamu, an architect and architectural historian.

Born and raised in Grosse Pointe, Mich., Mrs. Hooper was the daughter of Dexter Mason Ferry, an insurance executive and founder of the Ferry Seed Co., and Jeanette Hawkins Ferry. Mrs. Hooper was a graduate of the Master's School in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. She earned her bachelor's degree in 1931 at Vassar College, where a dormitory is named for her father.

Mrs. Hooper had worked at the Detroit Museum of Art. After moving to New York, she was associated with the Museum of Modern Art.

Dorothy J. Richardson of Annapolis, a friend who served on the Bryn Mawr School board with Mrs. Hooper, said, "She was a fascinating human being. She was a person of deep conviction and was extremely meticulous about everything she did."

She was a member of the Baltimore League of Women Voters, the Cosmopolitan Club of New York, the Women's Hamilton Street Club and the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club.

A memorial service is planned at 11 a.m. June 17 in the lower school of the Bryn Mawr School, 109 W. Melrose Ave.

She is survived by three daughters, Jeanette Williams of Mount Washington, Queene Hooper Foster of New York, and Kate Hooper Gorman of Piermont, N.Y.; a brother, Dexter Ferry of TC Detroit; and six grandchildren.

The family suggested memorial donations to the Baltimore Museum of Art, Bryn Mawr School or Vassar College.

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