Anne Harris Redd, 90, died peacefully of natural causes on November 8, 2017, at Country House in Wilmington, her home for the last 16 years. She was predeceased by her husband of 62 years, William Marshall Redd, Jr., the former mayor of Newark. She is survived her daughter, Cathy Anne Redd (Byron Woodbury), of Washington Crossing, PA; daughter, Nancy Redd Lewis (Gary Scott Lewis), of Drexel Hill, PA; granddaughter, Elizabeth Redd Woodbury, of Cambridge, MA; and grandsons, Scott William Lewis of Bellevue, WA, and Todd Robert Lewis, of Drexel Hill, PA. She is also survived by her brother, Frederick David Harris (Susan Koch) of Washington, D.C., her sister, Mildred Ellett, of Azusa, CA and six nieces and nephews. Her sister, Dorothy Hope Davis, died in 1979.
She was born Anne Warrene Harris on August 15, 1927 in Tianjin, China, known at that time as Tientsin. Anne was the daughter of Brig. Gen. Frederick Mixon Harris and Dorothy Barwise Harris. Her father was in China to serve in the U.S. 15th Infantry Regiment. Anne and her sister, Dorothy, were raised by a Chinese amah. Upon the family’s return to the United States, Anne and her sister sometimes created a stir on outings with their mother by chattering to each other in Chinese; when shoppers in the Philadelphia suburb of Lansdowne would ask what the little girls were saying, their mother would shrug and say, “I have no idea.” Facile with languages, Anne went on to learn Spanish when her father served in Puerto Rico and Panama, French in high school and college, and Italian through an immersion course she was sent to when she worked at the CIA. Anne took great joy in using languages to make a connection with people from other countries, and even at the end of her life sought out Spanish speaking residents and employees at Country House so that she could chat in Spanish with them.
As an Army brat, Anne had an unusual childhood. When she was very young, she spent days playing in the El Morro Castle in Old San Juan, once creating a minor uproar with friends by surreptitiously rolling many neatly-stacked, antique cannonballs down a very steep hill. When she was older, she and the other Army children from Fort McKinley on Great Diamond Island set out each morning on a dawn ferry to cross the Casco Bay and attend elementary school in Portland, Maine; while the children from Portland went home for lunch, the Army children wolfed down bagged lunches and went skating on a nearby pond. Anne and her family traveled frequently on Army transports, once celebrating Christmas on a transport at sea. During World War II, the trips on darkened ships could be perilous, and their father once received an erroneous report that his family was lost when their ship was sunk by German submarines.
Anne’s family moved so frequently that she attended four high schools: two in Florida, one in the Canal Zone and one in Baton Rouge, where she lived long enough to pick up just the smallest trace of a southern accent. She sometimes wished she had a real hometown, but she made friends easily and said she liked every place she ever lived.
Anne was always an excellent student, and earned a merit scholarship to Goucher College, graduating in 1949 Phi Beta Kappa and valedictorian of her class. She majored in American history. After college, she was hired as an intelligence analyst at the CIA, which sent her to the immersion course in Italian at the Georgetown Language Institute. Her superiors were planning to send Anne off to serve as the CIA’s first female intelligence officer in Trieste during the Cold War, but her fledgling career in intelligence work ended abruptly when she met Bill Redd at a cocktail party in Baltimore on Thanksgiving Day, 1950. Six months later, the couple married and moved to Delaware, where Bill worked for the DuPont Company. Anne and Bill raised their two daughters in Newark, where they lived until moving to Country House in 2001.
Anne excelled at golf, swimming and diving, and played bridge her entire life. She was a superb homemaker, cook and hostess, and routinely served creative and skillfully prepared meals to her family and guests. She was particularly good at arranging gatherings among people who didn’t necessarily know each other, but who she knew would enjoy each other’s company. Good food, interesting conversation and a relaxed atmosphere were the hallmarks of her entertaining.
When her daughters were young, Anne was a stay-at-home mother who enjoyed sewing and knitting beautiful clothes for her children, and refinishing antiques and doing intricate pieces of crewel embroidery to decorate her home. As her daughters got older, she returned to school, initially studying American decorative arts as a fellow in the University of Delaware’s Winterthur program. Anne was always active in her church, St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church in Newark, and at the same time that she returned to school, she was recruited to participate in Bishop William H. Mead’s innovative program to apply principles of organizational development to Episcopal parishes throughout Delaware. The goal of the program was to help both the lay staff and clergy more effectively fulfill their churches’ missions. Anne found this work fulfilling and also consuming, and she soon chose Bishop Mead’s program over her decorative arts studies at Winterthur. Her years of work through with the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware led her to become a trainer with the Mid-Atlantic Training and Consulting Committee, which offered training in organizational development to clergy and lay leaders of all denominations throughout the region.
In 1970, Anne served on the Newark Parish Council, which oversaw the establishment of the Pastoral Counseling and Consultation Center of Delaware. PC & CC operated out of churches of many denominations, offering group and individual counseling on a sliding scale fee basis throughout New Castle County. The counseling at PC & CC followed standard, professional counseling practices, but was offered in conjunction with the ongoing ministries of local religious communities. Because of the donation of facilities and other support from area churches, PC &CC was able to offer its lower-income clients mental health services at a nominal charge. Anne was so inspired by the mission of PC & CC that she completed a program in pastoral counseling at the Pastoral Counseling and Consultation Center of Washington, DC, and became a pastoral counselor herself. She was a therapist at PC & CC of Delaware for many years beginning in the 1970s, and also earned a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Delaware during this period.
When Anne began her work a therapist, requirements in Delaware to practice in the mental health field were few, and Anne worked long and hard to reform this state of affairs. In no small part due to Anne’s initiative and efforts, the Delaware legislature passed new laws in the early 1990s requiring that professional counselors in Delaware meet professional licensure requirements in education, examination, certification, and supervised practice. Anne went on to serve on the Delaware Board of Licensed Professional Counselors of Mental Health in the 1990s, and was its president for two terms.
When her husband was first elected mayor of Newark, Anne was heavily involved in his work, attending City Council meetings and offering her opinions to him freely. When it became apparent that her freely offered opinions often differed from his, the long-married couple decided it would be best to keep their professional lives separate. From then on, Anne limited her involvement in Newark politics to whispering into her husband’s ear whom he was talking to, and how he knew them, help he said many times was instrumental to everything he ever accomplished in Newark.
With her husband’s retirement from the DuPont Company, and later from the City of Newark, Anne was able to indulge in her passion for international travel, which Bill quickly came to share. The two would rent apartments for weeks at a time in small towns in Italy, France and Spain. With Anne’s skill in languages, they lived like locals, shopping in village markets daily and preparing local foods. At lunch in Italy, Anne and Bill once found themselves sitting at a table outside with Italian laborers, and tourists from France and Spain. Anne delighted in being able to connect the group so that they could all talk together through her translating.
Anne continued working as a therapist in private practice into her 70s, but retired after her husband suffered health issues. After her retirement, Anne was a volunteer counselor and fundraiser for Delaware Hospice.
Anne and Bill were utterly devoted to each other, she from their first date, and he from the moment he first set eyes on her from across a room. Despite loving care and attention from her two daughters whom she adored and who adored her, Anne never really got over Bill’s 2013 death.
Anne was a vibrant, intelligent, warm woman who used her considerable skills and talents to bring happiness to family and friends, and to make important contributions to her church and community. She was a strong woman of deeply-held convictions. She was also a ton of fun.
A memorial service for Anne will be held at 10:30 AM on December 2, 2017, at Danby Chapel in Country House, 4830 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE 19807. Her family asks that any contributions in her honor be made to St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church, 276 S. College Ave., Newark, DE 19711-5235.
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