2015: Ruth Thomas Bedford '32
By chance, Ruth Thomas Bedford was born the year that Foxcroft School was founded. By design, she embraced and reflected the characteristics and values of the School from which she graduated in 1932. And by choice, she forever changed her alma mater with an act of love and generosity unmatched in the history of girls’ schools.
Spunk. Like Foxcroft and Miss Charlotte, “whom she followed,” Ruth embraced life on her own terms. She worked on Broadway, backstage when nice girls from Connecticut didn’t do such things. She was a licensed pilot, often seen skimming her seaplane across Long Island Sound. “Ruth was always a very independent person, a true woman ahead of her time,” is how Bill Weeks describes her. Like many Foxcroft women, she was not afraid to speak her mind, and she had a sense of humor. As a student at the School, she loved to pull a good prank, “Nothing you could get kicked out for,” she would say with a grin and a sparkle in her bright blue eyes.
Unpretentious. Despite her great wealth, Ruth was a no-glitz, no-glamour kind of girl, who drove around her hometown of Westport in a beat-up Oldsmobile station wagon and lived well below her means. She loved Foxcroft’s lack of pretension, perhaps because she had none either, and she was thrilled that the School remained true to its values as it continued to grow with the times.
Sports. An accomplished rider from an early age, at Foxcroft, Ruth embraced the School’s motto of “mens sano in corpore sano,” honing her riding skills and playing basketball for the School and for her beloved Hound team. Ruth later became a skilled sailor, golfer, and tennis player, and also carried on the family penchant for racing horses with success. All this she did long before women’s participation in sports was widely accepted, much less celebrated.
Service. With an appreciation for giving back passed down by her family and solidified during her time at Foxcroft, Ruth’s “Understanding Heart” just kept growing. She wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty either: She served with the Red Cross in Europe during World War II, offering to be stationed in England during the Blitz and, along with her sister Lucie, volunteers at the Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut for over 50 years.
At the end, Ruth inspired us by acknowledging the place that she felt made her the woman she was, with a transformational gift to her alma mater, Foxcroft. And in the process, Ruth demonstrated that women can be agents of change. Her generosity will help to sustain the School she believed in and loved for many future generations of young women.
For being a shining example of strength, independence, and service to Foxcroft students and women around the world, and for inspiring us all to be true to ourselves, to follow our passions, and to make a difference in the world, The Board of Trustees and Catherine S. McGehee, Head of School, honor Ruth Thomas Bedford, Class of 1932, with Foxcroft’s highest honor, the Anne Kane McGuire Distinguished Service Award.