Anne C. Desmarais, former director of the Northwood-Appold United Methodist Church Nursery School, dies

Anne C. Desmarais was an avid reader.

Anne C. Desmarais, a longtime director and teacher at Northwood-Appold United Methodist Church, died of complications from sepsis Oct. 23 at her son’s Towson home. The Original Northwood resident was 86.

“Anne’s natural kindness and love for others was transformative,” said Edward J. Gilliss, a family friend and neighbor whose mother taught music at the school with Mrs. Desmarais. “She was the personification of not having a bad thought. She was just a loving woman.”


Beverly R. Schmidt, a fellow teacher and longtime close friend, said, “Anne was a wonderful leader and the heart and soul of the school.


“She had a kind and loving nature not only with children but also with parents. She always had answers and could deal with whatever happened.”

Kathleen B. Smith sent her two children to the school and later joined its faculty.

“My children went there and I ended up teaching there for three years and working with Anne was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Ms. Smith said. “She was the reason you sent your kids to the school. She taught children with respect and gave kids a sense of what they could accomplish and focused on life skills.”

Anne Boyd Campbell, daughter of William Campbell, a real estate mortgage broker and Mary Campbell, an antiques dealer, was born in Darby, Pennsylvania, and raised there. She later moved to Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where she graduated in 1954 from Central Bucks County High School.

As an undergraduate at Emerson College in Boston, Mrs. Desmarais met and fell in love with Kenneth Desmarais, a classmate.

“I saw her sitting on the steps of a house on Berkeley Street our freshman year, and I thought, ‘That girl is for me,’” said Mr. Desmarais, a former WCBM-AM radio personality whose on-air name is Ken Jackson, and host of WYPR’s weekly “In the Mood” big-band program.

The couple married in 1956, their sophomore year. After Mr. Desmarais worked at several radio stations in Pennsylvania, they moved to Baltimore in 1962, and settled in Original Northwood when he took a job as an on-air personality at WCBM.

In 1967, Mrs. Desmarais began teaching at Northwood-Appold United Methodist Church Nursery School on Loch Raven Boulevard, when her youngest child, Suzanne, was old enough to attend its school.


Mrs. Desmarais, who taught 3-year-olds, later became the school’s director in 1972.

“It always gave her great pleasure knowing her staff introduced hundreds of 3-year-olds, including our own children and all of our grandchildren, to their first classroom experience,” Mr. Desmarais said. “For most of them, it was the first time they left the nest for any length of time. I frequently referred to Anne as the ‘Pied Piper of Northwood.’ Children just loved her. She was a natural.”

“Northwood-Appold was a haven for many young families. Anne was a loving teacher and advocate for the children and a source of insightful advice and encouragement for their parents,” wrote Julie Desmarais, her daughter-in-law, in a biographical profile of Mrs. Desmarais.

“The school year included several beloved annual traditions: the Teddy Bear Picnic, Thanksgiving Feast, International Dinner, The Four’s Circus and Christmas and graduation programs,” Ms. Desmarais wrote.

Mrs. Schmidt, who worked with Mrs. Desmarais for 28 years, said the school had a lovely building and classrooms, and attributed the school’s success to a supportive congregation.


“It truly was an international school because we had students from Japan, Norway, France, New Guinea and Vietnam, and this was due mainly to parents who worked at Hopkins,” Mrs. Schmidt said. “I just loved going to work every day..”

Mr. Gilliss said, “Anne and my mom got the chance to teach their grandchildren at the school.”

The Morning Sun

The Morning Sun


Get your morning news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the

“She was joyfully devoted to her young students and their families,” her daughter-in-law wrote. “Family dinner conversations often included endearing anecdotes about her preschoolers.”

Mrs. Desmarais retired in 2002.

She was an avid reader, and it wasn’t uncommon for her to read two or three books a week “before I finished reading the first chapter,” her husband said.


“I know it’s a cliche, but her hobby was her family and she liked being a homemaker and collecting antiques,” Mr. Desmarais said.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 26 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 1400 Dulaney Valley Road in Timonium.

In addition to her husband of 66 years, Mrs. Desmarais is survived by her son, Douglas Desmarais of Towson; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her son David Desmarais, who died in 2004; and a daughter, Suzanne D. Vinyard, who died in 2008.