Anne S. Wilson, a former Walters Art Museum educator and a Goucher College volunteer who was an active member of the Hamilton Street Club, died May 24 from aortic valve disease at her Homeland residence. She was 77.
Anne Stout was born and raised in Parkersburg, W.Va. She was the daughter of John William Stout, a banker, and Jessie Eleanor Dabney Stout, a homemaker.
After graduating from Parkersburg High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree in art history from Goucher College in 1962.
She worked for several years for H. Chambers Co., a Baltimore interior decorating firm, before joining what is now the Walters Art Museum as assistant to the registrar. The next year, she moved to the museum’s education department as a senior staff lecturer, and worked with its longtime director, Theodore Lewis Low.
“I knew Anne a long time ago when she was a tall, elegant presence in the education department. She had a somewhat prim bearing and a wonderful wry sense of humor,” said William R. Johnston, former senior curator and director of the Walters archives, who lives in Roland Park. “And she became Ted Low’s main support in his last years.”
Her responsibilities were numerous and included delivering public lectures, conducting museum tours for schoolchildren, and recruited and trained the first two classes of docents.
Barbara B. Lewis, who graduated from Goucher in 1958, got to know Mrs. Wilson at the Walters.
“I preceded her by three or four years, and we’ve known each for so long that we can read each other’s minds,” said Mrs. Lewis of Cross Keys. “It was a magical time at the Walters during those years. We both had a great love of art and had similar interests.”
“We had to start training docents in 1973 because the new wing was opening in 1974 and we needed many more guides. The training wasn’t just about art appreciation — it was about the cultural background of the museum’s works of art,” recalled Mr. Johnston, who is the author of “The Walters Art Gallery.”
“I thought Anne brought a great deal of sensitivity to the docent training and she was perfect for it, and the program has been a great success ever since.”
“Thus the program has blossomed and made a major contribution to the Walters,” said her husband of 45 years, Dr. W. Stanley “Stan” Wilson, a retired Navy, NASA and NOAA oceanographer.
She played a key role in establishing and sustaining the Theodore L. Low Lectureship Fund to recognize his major contribution to museum education and outreach.
An accomplished painter in her own right, Mrs. Wilson left the Walters in 1977 and moved to New Orleans, where she studied with the American painter Auseklis Ozols, founder and director of the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts.
After returning to Baltimore in 1979, Mrs. Wilson resumed her activities with the Hamilton Street Club, which she had joined in 1965. She eventually rose to president and at her death was chair of the house committee and club archivist.
“When I became president of the club, Anne was chair of the house committee, which meant she kept track of the menu and the food choices members enjoyed, painting, replacing rugs and the occasional shutter, and she had a keen eye when it came to expenses,” Rosemary Eck said.
“One of her last jobs was fixing the chimney. It had to be repaired so we could install a hot water heater,” said Mrs. Eck, who lives in Stoneleigh. “Because our building is an historic stable and we’re in a historic district, she had to go through hoops in order to get the various permits. Anne was even-tempered, cheerful and a wonderful colleague, and she will remain in our hearts for a very long time.”
Dawn Elardo of Essex has been manager of the Hamilton Street Club for 21 years.
“Anne was president of the club from 1991 to 1994, and has held positions on the board ever since then, and her contributions to the club are extensive and she always made my job a lot easier.”
Ms. Elardo always knew she could rely on Mrs. Wilson, especially during a crisis.
“For instance, there would be a burst pipe and we’re standing ankle-deep in water and we’re laughing. There was nothing else we could do but laugh, but I knew I could depend on Anne’s support,” she said.
“She was very caring, and knew everyone at the club and would ask about their children and grandchildren. She was a colleague, but I considered her a close friend. She was always there for people — especially at the club — and her presence will be extremely missed.”
Mrs. Wilson was also known for her delightful “sense of fun,” Mrs. Eck said.
“During meetings, something would amuse her and her eyebrows would begin to flicker,” Mrs. Eck said, with a laugh.
“She worked tirelessly to ensure the financial viability and intellectual vigor of the club, as well as its appeal to the next generation of professional women,” Dr. Wilson said.
Mrs. Wilson also volunteered at the Goucher College Library and Archives.
“She brought her great intelligence and cheer, and I was grateful for her helping build resources for our students. She liked working behind the scenes in projects that paved the way for futures scholarship,” said Nancy Magnuson, who served as Goucher librarian from 1987 until she retired last year.
“Anne volunteered in Goucher College’s special collections and worked for me for 10 years, and for the library for 10 years before that, for a total of 20 years,” said Tara J. Olivero, who is curator of special collections and archives at the college.
“She and her friend Barbara Lewis, also a Goucher alum, came once a week. It was really a unique situation as they came to help process the collection,” said Ms. Olivero of Bolton Hill. “They brought their knowledge of the college, its traditions and Baltimore to the work. They gave great perspective.”
Along with college staff, they worked with students as well.
“They loved having social intercourse with the students discussing college as well as national issues and college traditions both old and new,” she said.
Projects ranged from processing and identifying thousands of photographs, which were then digitized so they could be made available to researchers and historians, to working with college and presidential records, Ms. Olivero said.
“They worked to understand the technology and its challenges,” she said.
Mrs. Magnuson of Towson said that some of Mrs. Wilson’s work involved the Jane Austen Society of North America, whose archives and records are at Goucher, and also “30 linear feet of historic dance material.”
“She also curated several exhibitions and one that I particularly remember was one on historic children’s books,” she said. “Anne was a great asset to Goucher and a lovely, lovely person.”
Ms. Olivero described Mrs. Wilson as “very gregarious, bright and a great listener. She had a great laugh and smile.”
“There was always so much going on and she was such a very positive person,” she said. “She also had been active with the Friends of the Goucher Library, and had served on their board and still remained very active with the library.”
“We ended up where we started at Goucher because we had trained in the archives at the Walters,” Mrs. Lewis said.
Mrs. Wilson was still actively volunteering at the college until her death, her husband said.
An avid world traveler, one of Mrs. Wilson’s favorite destinations was Venice, Dr. Wilson said.
She also enjoyed painting portraits, life studies and landscapes, and was an active member of the Art Seminar Group.
In 1987, a Baltimore Sun art critic wrote about an exhibition held at the Maryland Institute of Art that featured several works by Mrs. Wilson.
“Anne Wilson’s ‘fur’ pieces made out of such materials as synthetic felt and paint have something to say about the blurring of genuine and synthetic values in the modern world, but beyond that they’re brooding, eerie works (especially ‘Gaming Field’ and a recent untitled piece) which are at once abstract in image and expressionistic in feeling,” John Dorsey wrote.
During the 1980s, Mrs. Wilson worked part-time for Tips on Trips, a Baltimore travel agency, that helped plan trips for high school and college students.
A memorial service for Mrs. Wilson will be held at 4 p.m. June 17 at the Stony Run Friends Meeting House, at 5116 N. Charles St.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by a daughter, Lauren Murphy Wilson of Arcata, Calif. Her son, Jonathan Sparrow Wilson, died in 1978.