Anne Elizabeth Gates Bartow of Bethany Beach, Del., and formerly of Wallingford, Pa., passed away at home surrounded by her family on Tuesday, November 13, after courageously battling Alzheimer’s for eight years. She was 73.
In learning of Anne’s passing, so many who knew Anne have shared what we, her close family, also remember and cherish about her — that she was a beautiful, intelligent, funny, and kind sister, wife, mother, and friend. Anne noticed and appreciated the beauty in the world and lived her life as a natural teacher and in service of others, whether at work, in scouting, at church, or in the community — creating happy and memorable experiences for those around her.
Anne was born on the eve of the end of WWII in Chester, Pa., on May 7, 1945 to Frances Taylor (Shoop) and Ralph Phillip Gates. She spent a happy childhood with her parents and older sister, Jeanne, in Chester and Wallingford, with fun-loving summers spent in Bethany Beach with a close extended family. Anne graduated from Nether Providence High School in 1963.
Under the loving and guiding hands of her beloved parents, Anne grew to experience and love many things that she passed on to her own family: a deep love of music and singing, whether in school chorus, church choirs, in the car on cross country road trips, and around the family piano; an inquisitive nature that underpinned her love of the outdoors, travel, and the “shore” from her time in Bethany Beach and camping across the U.S.; as well as her great love of books and literature where she could also explore the world from her own familiar corner of it. Anne also practiced and honed, with her family, a love of service and community, from earning her Girl Scouts Gold Award, to volunteer and part time work as a Candy Striper at Crozer Hospital and at the American Cancer Society, and church service.
Anne met Denny, her partner of 52 years, walking from the train to college registration at West Chester State University in 1963. Anne and Denny were a team and a fixture at West Chester from that first day, and Anne spent four years of school active in the student body, as a member of the Women’s Day Council, a Big Sister and a member of the “Cap Crew.” She channeled her love of literature into her studies, graduating with a Bachelors of Science in English in 1967, earning a Masters of Science in in Library Science from Villanova University in 1969, and then serving as school librarian at Interboro Senior High School.
Anne and Denny were married on November 19, 1966, and they chose Delaware County to continue to raise their growing family, serving as active and caring members of Christ United Methodist Church, where they were married. She helped found the church library and served as librarian for many years, and was also a long-standing member of the church choir, the Woman’s Society of Christian Service, Mary/Martha Sisters, and Queen Esther Circle.
Anne nurtured and supported so many aspects of her family’s pursuits and interests. She always sought to make every day of our lives comfortable, happy, and special, down to the smallest meaningful details. She was creative by nature and incorporated her gifts of needlework, quilting, and cake decorating into scouting and church activities, family holidays and celebrations, and kept family traditions alive throughout the year. When her daughters were young, she took on roles as PTO leader and class mom, Girl Scout leader, Sunday school teacher and youth group leader. Her own interests were seeds planted in her daughters, who also went on to careers related to teaching, writing, and public education. Always supportive of one another, Anne was Denny’s biggest champion as he also pursued a varied career and professional interests in science, medicine and education. And oh, how we sang, laughed, and explored our world as a family together, from our own trips around the U.S. to time spent at Anne’s second home of Bethany Beach and with our close-knit circle of grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, and family friends.
Perhaps one of Anne’s greatest legacies is how she taught by example all those she served and loved. Behind her sometimes quiet and reserved demeanor was a resilience and strength of character and commitment that she brought to her life, one that was especially evident in the way she supported her family through times of struggle, illness, and loss. When Anne was facing her own diagnosis of Alzheimer’s she attacked it with the same quiet strength we had always seen in her, and we sought our best to provide back to her a reflection of the love and support she had so freely given of herself.
Anne was preceded in death by her loving parents, Frances and Ralph Gates, and beloved niece, Phyllis Jeanne Sach. Anne is survived by her soulmate Dennis H. Bartow of Bethany Beach; daughter Amy Frances Bartow-Melia (Greg) of Falls Church, Va., daughter Margaret (Meg) Elizabeth Bartow Dufour (Christopher) of Fort Worth, Texas; grandchildren Francesca Kathryn Bartow Melia and Marguerite Elena Bartow Melia; best friend and sister Jeanne Gates Sach (Frederick) of Brookhaven, Pa.; and many loving brothers and sisters-in-law; nieces and nephews; and extended family and friends whom she loved.
A Celebration of Anne’s Life Service will take place on Friday, November 23, at 11:30 a.m. at Christ United Methodist Church (Brookhaven, Pa.), followed by an afternoon reception at Kings Mills (Media, Pa.). A private interment will precede the service.
We wish to acknowledge the staff and caregivers at Harrison House, in Georgetown, Del., and Delaware Hospice for their loving care of Anne. In lieu of flowers, gifts in Anne’s memory may be made to support her love of literature with gifts to the South Coastal Library in Bethany Beach (https://southcoastal.lib.de.us); support of Christ United Methodist Church (http://www.christumcbrookhaven.com); or support of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of Delaware Valley (https://www.alz.org/delval).
Online condolences may be sent by visiting www.melsonfuneralservices.com.
— Obituary provided by Anne’s family