In Memoriam: Anne Whitin Sawyer


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with deep sorrow the death on February 16, 2016, of former Honorary Member, Anne Whitin Sawyer, age 97.

Anne and her husband, former Trustee and Honorary Trustee John E. “Jack” Sawyer, first became WHOI Associates in 1974.  Following Jack’s death in 1995, Anne was elected an Honorary Member of the Corporation.  Anne became a member of the Fye Society in 1996, and she attended all meetings of the Corporation for as long as she was able, until 2011.

Anne was born October 31, 1918 in Whitinsville, Massachusetts.  She graduated from Smith College in 1940 and married Jack in 1941, taking a teaching position at Shady Hill School in Cambridge for a brief period before moving to Washington, D.C. during World War II.  After the war, she and Jack raised their family in Cambridge and New Haven, Connecticut until 1961, when they moved to Williamstown, where Jack became president of Williams College.  Anne devoted much time and energy to the Williams College and its community, and her dedication was recognized in 1984 when the College presented her with its Ephraim Williams Medal for exceptional service.  Following the family’s move to New York City in 1973, Anne became a founding volunteer at the Pierpont Morgan Library.

Anne’s family ties to the Woods Hole area dated back to the early 19th century, when her ancestors were shipbuilders and whalers.  After spending summers throughout her life in the area, Anne and Jack became full-time residents of Woods Hole in 1988.  In addition to her ties to WHOI, Anne served as a director of the Woods Hole Foundation, a trustee of the Woods Hole Library, and a trustee of the Woods Hole Historical Museum.

Anne is survived by four children, Katharine Stover of Newton, WHOI Corporation Member John Sawyer of Lexington, Stephen Sawyer of Auburn, Maine, and William Sawyer of Millburn, N.J., and their spouses.  She also leaves nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren


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(Photo by Tom Kleindinst, WHOI)