Diana Caroline Hyde, a Maryland Historical Society docent who was active in historic preservation circles, died of cancer Aug. 1 at her daughter’s Gibson Island home. She was 90.
Born in Bermuda, Diana Caroline Smith was the daughter of Sir Allan Chalmers Smith, Bermuda’s attorney general, and his wife, E. Joyce Martin. Her ancestors had settled in Bermuda in 1628.
She survived World War II and rationing. As a 16-year-old she crossed the Atlantic on a convoy and witnessed the sinking of nearby ships by German submarines.
Mrs. Hyde obtained a degree in hospitality management from the University of Exeter in England.
While working at her family’s Coral Beach Club she met her future husband, Bryden Bordley Hyde, a Baltimore resident who was an Army infantry officer. A physician suggested that Mr. Hyde, who had been awarded a Bronze Star, walk on sand to assist in his recuperation from injuries.
“My mother was handing out towels at the club when she met my father. On their first date they both decided, without discussion, this was the one. He died at home, in her arms, 53 years later,” said her son, Jonathan Hinson Hyde of Gibson Island.
After they were married at Christ Church in Warwick, Bermuda — which her ancestors had founded — Mrs. Hyde moved to Gibson Island. She volunteered at the Maryland Historical Society for many years and assisted in the writing of the docent’s curriculum. She also sold real estate in Anne Arundel County, and was active in Annapolis preservation issues.
“Diana came to Gibson Island as a bride,” said William Passano, a neighbor. “She had her garden next to ours. She was a unique and special human being. She was her own person and she made a lasting impression. You always knew where you stood with Diana. She was straight up.”
George Gordon, a former Gibson Island neighbor, said he first met Mrs. Hyde when he was age 11 or 12.
“I was a kid whose father had recently died. She accepted me into her family,” Mr. Gordon said. “There was forgiveness in Diana beyond any expectation. She directed my life in a sweet and kind way. ...Her husband taught me to eat oysters and she taught me to eat spinach — on the whole, I think I did better with the spinach.”
Mrs. Hyde was a member of the Gibson Island Club, the Hamilton Bermuda Rotary Club and the U.S. Croquet Association.
“Diana Hyde was one of a kind. She was formidable and indomitable but always graced with old-fashioned manners and modesty. She exemplified love of family, welcoming each new generation with open arms and heart,” said a friend, George Johnston of Baltimore. “She was a gracious hostess and was highly knowledgeable about antique silver and period furniture.”
Mr. Johnston added: “Diana divided her time with devoted family between Bermuda, where her family had been for literally hundreds of years, and Gibson Island. She cared for her husband Bryden after a debilitating stroke. She had rose-colored glasses, which suited her personality to a tee. She also had an infectious laugh and smile. She loved textiles and made many of her own clothes.”
“Diana was always active, eager and interested in just about everything,” said another friend, retired Circuit Judge John W. Sause Jr. “We stayed with her in Bermuda one August and she’d been up in the morning cutting bananas — then selling them. She had an irrepressible personality and particularly loved children. And she was never happier than when she was with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
“My mother was one of six children, her father was one of 12 children and she loved being part of a big family that recognized first, second and sometimes even third cousins, said her daughter, Anne Blackburn Hyde of Paget, Bermuda.
.A memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 26 at St. Christopher’s-by-the-Sea Church, 511 Broadwater Way on Gibson Island.
In addition to her daughter and son, survivors include another daughter, Elizabeth Bordley Gamble of Gibson Island; a brother, David Henry Smith of Nottingham, England; a sister, Beatrice Joan Williams of Stratford-upon-Avon, England; eight grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. Her husband of 53 years, a Baltimore architect, died in 2001. A son, Stephen Bordley Hyde, died in 2005.