Angelica Y. Pearre, 100, gave antiques to BMA

July 06, 1998|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

Angelica Yonge Pearre, a prominent collector of period furniture with a gallery that bears her name in the Baltimore Museum of Art, died of undetermined causes on Thursday in Chester, Nova Scotia, where she had a summer home. She was 100.

A longtime resident of Baltimore, Mrs. Pearre studied American history and furniture throughout her life and became particularly fond of Baltimore-made pieces dating to the 18th century.

"She possessed a knowledgeable passion about history and furniture," said the Rev. Douglas Pitt of Baltimore, a family friend. "She was a strong woman who was devoted to her family and collecting with her late husband, Sifford."

Aubrey Pearre IV of Baltimore, a great-nephew, said Mrs. Pearre "never looked for anyone to support her. She was a leader, not a follower. The reason she lived to be 100 was her attitude. Just last summer, we were in her apartment when she told a relative on the telephone she was going to attend a wedding in California."

"It made your jaw drop," Mr. Pearre said.

A native of Roanoke, Va., Mrs. Pearre moved to Baltimore and graduated from Goucher College before the campus was moved from the city to Towson.

The former Angelica Burwell worked as a medical secretary until she met and married Sifford Pearre. After her husband died in 1973, she continued her passion for furniture and the history around it.

"She had an accomplished eye for craftsmanship and style," said William Voss Elder III, retired curator of decorative arts at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

"She combined a zest for life with a wonderful sense of humor," said Mr. Elder, who worked with her when she donated approximately 25 major pieces of furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries to the museum in the late 1970s.

Those pieces are exhibited on the museum's lower level in the Pearre Gallery, Mr. Elder said.

For most of her life, Mrs. Pearre spent summers in Nova Scotia, at a bungalow overlooking Mahone Bay. "Whether it was during those busy years or later in life, it was a time she longed for because of its beauty," her great-nephew said.

A nephew, Aubrey Pearre III of Baltimore, said Nova Scotia was part of Mrs. Pearre's appreciation of beauty -- whether it was a period chair or a sea gull drifting on an updraft.

"She was always interested in others," said the nephew. "Nearly everyone marveled at her age and how she carried herself. It was her attitude that carried her in life. She wasn't into complaining. She kept herself on the move."

Mrs. Pearre was a member of the boards of Johns Hopkins and Union Memorial hospitals. She chaired the women's division of the Community Chest of Baltimore and was a member of the executive committee of the latter organization for several years.

Mrs. Pearre also served on the finance committee of the National Cathedral in Washington and organized and was president of the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage.

Survivors include a daughter, Letitia Pearre Burwell of Franconia, N.H.; a son, Sifford Pearre Jr. of Halifax, Nova Scotia; eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A funeral service will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 232 St. Thomas Lane.

Contributions may be made to the Decorative Arts Department of the Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive, Baltimore 21210.

Pub Date: 7/06/98

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