Ann Wright Burdett, who worked in sales and was an avid bridge player and volunteer, died of lung cancer Wednesday at her home at Oak Crest Village in Parkville. She was 86 and previously lived in Annapolis.
Ann Eugenia Adams was born and raised in Baltimore, and graduated as valedictorian from Western High School in 1939.
During World War II she worked in a factory, but her outgoing personality led to a career in sales, her family said. She worked as a sales manager at World Book Encyclopedia and was later in sales at Monumental Life Insurance.
"She wasn't an office kind of person," said her daughter Patricia Smith of Washington. "She liked talking to people. ... I grew up believing the World Book Encyclopedia was second only to the Bible."
After her marriage to Fred Schmid ended in divorce in 1956, she raised their three children as a single mother. When she was 45 years old, she married Albert Wright of New York, who died in 1987. A few years later, she married Les Burdett, who predeceased her. As she grew older, she developed an interest in bridge and golf.
At age 78, Mrs. Burdett met a Canadian couple while playing Internet bridge, and she began to visit them one week each year. She only stopped after her health began to deteriorate.
Six years ago, Mrs. Burdett went to Russia with a small group to volunteer at a children's orthopedic hospital. She fell while traveling to Russia and injured her leg, but she still continued her mission with a cheerful disposition, friends said.
Mrs. Burdett was an active member of P.E.O. Sisterhood, an international organization devoted to charitable projects and educational opportunities for women. She was also active in the Woman's Club of Towson and belonged to a women's bridge group in Elkridge Estates in Roland Park.
"From the way she brought me up, I never felt like being a woman was something to hold me back," Mrs. Smith said. "She made it clear to me that my education was the way that I would make my way in the world, and that anything was open to me."
A memorial service is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at Grace United Methodist Church, 5407 N. Charles St.
Also surviving are a son, Robert Schmid of Baltimore; another daughter, Lynda Venturella of Columbia; and four grandchildren.