Patricia Smith Wright

Patricia Smith Wright ( )

Patricia Wright, a retired college librarian and music aficionado, died of a pulmonary embolism Friday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The Towson resident was 79.

Born Patricia Smith in Thayer, Mo., she was the daughter of Dr. Elmer O. Smith, a chiropractor, and the former Pearl Wood, who owned a floral business.

"She was a child of many interests and talents. She enjoyed sports, especially softball, and was a devoted fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. She was often seen around town wearing her Cardinals ball cap," said her daughter, Katherine Baumgartner, who resides in Redding, Conn. "She had an active curiosity about many subjects and was an avid reader."

Mrs. Wright was talented musically, family members said. She played clarinet in the high school band and accompanied school choirs and soloists on the piano. "She taught herself how to play the organ and used her talent in her family's church," her daughter said.

Mrs. Wright was valedictorian and graduated at the head of her class at Thayer High School.

While a student at the University of Missouri, where she earned a bachelor's degree in social work, she met her future husband, Kenneth T. Wright Jr., a Towson resident who was then a master's candidate in the department of classical languages and archaeology. The couple were married in Towson on June 19, 1957.

Mrs. Wright went on to earn a master's degree in library science from Villanova University. Her first position as a librarian was at the Library of Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

"While living in the Philadelphia area, she became a great fan of the Philadelphia Orchestra and raised her two children there," said her husband, who was on the faculty of Villanova University at the time.

From 1967 until her retirement and relocation to Towson in 1997, Mrs. Wright worked at Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Va. She began as circulation librarian, then served as reference librarian, and ultimately became the college's head cataloger. On two occasions, she was acting head librarian. She retired as professor emerita of library science.

Family members said she had a keen intellect and shared a scholarly life with her husband. They traveled to Greece on four occasions.

"She liked Crete very much, and Delphi was one of her favorite spots," said her husband, who is a retired Sweet Briar professor of classical studies. "She studied the archaeology of Greece and liked Greek culture, both ancient and modern. She appreciated its music and dance traditions."

She remained a baseball fan, and after moving to Maryland she followed the Orioles.

"She knew the game well, and we went to many games together," her husband said. She also was a Johns Hopkins University lacrosse fan and attended home games.

She was a gardener and cultivated roses and hydrangeas. She was also a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra patron.

Mrs. Wright read English and American literature, including the works of Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Anthony Trollope, Edith Wharton and the short story writer Alice Munro. She enjoyed the musical comedies of composer George Gershwin and was a fan of the lyrics of his brother, Ira Gershwin.

"She was an affectionate, generous and loving mother, and was a great source of comfort to her husband and children," her daughter said.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at noon Thursday at St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church, 740 N. Calvert St., where she was a member.

In addition to her husband of 57 years and daughter, survivors include a son, Kenneth T. Wright III, of Columbus, Ohio; a brother, Michael Smith of Bellingham, Wash.; and a sister, Ann Shelton, of Chattanooga, Tenn.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com