Anne Pinkard

[ Age 83 ] President of the France-Merrick Foundation supported many cultural and educational institutions in Baltimore.

March 06, 2007|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Anne M. "Nan" Pinkard, former president of the France-Merrick Foundation, whose philanthropy through the years had a profound effect on many of Baltimore's cultural and educational institutions, died of respiratory failure Saturday at the Brightwood retirement community in Lutherville. She was 83.

"She was a great leader, and her death is a huge loss to the community," Robert W. Schaefer, the foundation's executive director, said yesterday. "There were literally hundreds of organizations both large and small that she helped and where a $25,000 grant could be just as important and meaningful as a million-dollar one."

"She was a grand lady who had stature, presence and grace. But behind that, she had an incredible ability for zeroing in on problems. She was very disciplined and forthright and not one to be trifled with," said Dr. William R. Brody, president of the Johns Hopkins University. "Her life was her family, Baltimore and Hopkins, and she was always pushing us to do more for the community. She was focused on this institution doing well."

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, described her as a "great civic leader" who had an "extraordinary curiosity, asked good questions and could always find solutions to problems."

He added: "She found ways to make Baltimore better for all of us and for all cross-sections of society. She believed in the power of education and had a magnanimous spirit that was larger than life. She loved challenges and had a belief that we as Baltimoreans could change things."

Born Anne McEvoy Merrick in Baltimore and raised in the Woodbrook section of Baltimore County, she was the daughter of the late Anne McEvoy and Robert Graff Merrick. She was a 1942 graduate of Sacred Heart Academy in Noroton, Conn., and earned a bachelor's degree in English from Goucher College in 1946.

She did graduate work at Johns Hopkins and Cornell University, and from 1948 to 1954 was editor and circulation manager of the old Baltimore-based Gardens, Houses and People magazine.

In 1962, her parents established the Robert G. and Anne Merrick Foundation, which merged in 1998 with the Jacob and Annita France Foundation to form the France-Merrick Foundation - the largest family foundation in Maryland.

Mrs. Pinkard became president of the Merrick foundation in 1990, and after the merger remained as its chief executive until retiring in 2004 - a time when it reported assets of more than $220 million. The foundation made $10 million in grants in the 2005 fiscal year.

"Hopkins was in her genes, and she truly loved Homewood House," said Catherine Rogers Arthur, curator of the historic 1801 country house of Charles Carroll Jr., the only son of Declaration of Independence signer Charles Carroll of Carrollton. The house is now surrounded by the university's Homewood campus.

Mrs. Pinkard, whose father was a member of the Hopkins Class of 1917, served as a university trustee. She donated the funds that built four sets of Georgian entrance gates to the campus and financially supported the restoration of what is now the Merrick Barn Theater there.

"Her father had lived in Homewood House as a graduate student and had made its restoration possible in the 1980s," Ms. Arthur said. "She continued her father's tradition of generously contributing to Homewood House. She funded a book on the history of the house, endowed the `Introduction to Material Culture' course and served on the Homewood House Advisory Committee."

In 1973, Mrs. Pinkard became the second woman to be elected a university trustee. Four years later, Mrs. Pinkard became the first woman to be elected a trustee of Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she had earlier been president of the Johns Hopkins Women's Board.

During her tenure as president of the foundation, organizations that benefited from its philanthropy included the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, St. Frances Academy in East Baltimore, St. Mary's Seminary and University in Roland Park and city public schools.

In 1998, the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, to which the joint foundation gave $3 million, named its $17.2 million building for Mrs. Pinkard.

"Mrs. Pinkard was an extraordinary woman who had a marvelous moral compass. She knew what mattered, and she wanted others to know what she thought mattered," said Dr. Martha N. Hill, dean of the nursing school. "She thought it was important that Hopkins had a nursing school that was a credible division of the university and with its own home. She pressed the university's board of trustees and several presidents unrelentingly, and was very happy and pleased when it was finally finished."

In 2001, with the aid of a $5 million pledge from the foundation, restoration of the downtown Hippodrome Theatre - now the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center - got under way.

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