Eleanor F Hedden
April 3, 1931 – June 27, 2020
Eleanor Rose Field Hedden, 89, a long-standing community leader in Washington, DC, passed away on June 27, 2020, at Cedar Glen, an assisted-living home in Rockville, MD. The cause of death was a range of age-related complications. Mrs. Hedden had been a resident of Washington, DC, since 1954.
Mrs. Hedden was born April 3, 1931, in Asheville, NC. She was nicknamed “Sis” to avoid confusion with her mother for whom she was named. She kept the nickname and was known as Sis throughout her life. She attended Salem Academy in Winston-Salem, NC, and Smith College in Northampton, MA.
After moving to Washington, she worked as a secretary at the Eisenhower White House, The Republican National Committee, and George Washington University Hospital. In 1957, she married John Osborne Hedden and left the workforce as they began to raise their three children. Along with her devotion to family, Mrs. Hedden was a passionate advocate for the arts, education, and floriculture, dedicating herself to service with numerous related Washington institutions. In the 1960s and 70s, she served on the boards of The Beauvoir School, Smith College Club of Washington, The Junior League of Washington, Hillcrest Children’s Center, and The Evergreen Garden Club. She was involved in numerous fundraising efforts at The Washington Cathedral, The National Cathedral School, and St. Albans School. In 1968, as the Community Affairs leader for the Junior League of Washington, she communicated to the DC Council that the League would admit members regardless of race.
In 1979, she began her 35-year relationship with The Corcoran Gallery of Art as a leader and benefactor. She initially served on the Women’s Committee where she held roles including chairing the Committee, the 1984 Corcoran Ball, and a successful 1988/1989 capital campaign for art acquisition. At the same time, she played an active role in the Corcoran School of Art, chairing the School’s re-accreditation self-study. That study laid the groundwork for the restructuring and revitalization of the School, including a name change to the Corcoran College of Art and Design in 1999. She was elected to the Corcoran Gallery Board of Trustees in 1999 and concurrently served as the Chairman of the College Board of Overseers. She was actively involved in all aspects of Corcoran leadership up to and including the 2014 decision to close the Gallery, merge the College with George Washington University, and distribute the Gallery Collection to the National Gallery of Art and over twenty other DC institutions.
She was passionate about floriculture and was a proud member for many years of the Georgetown Garden Club and The Altar Guild of the Washington Cathedral. She became a certified flower show judge and judged regional shows, most notably The Philadelphia Garden Show. She was also an accomplished watercolorist and sold her works at The Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA, and local art fairs.
Beyond these accomplishments, she loved people and had a true gift for connecting with, mentoring, and inspiring those whom she met. She relished bringing people together over a good meal and sharing laughs and loved nothing more than an evening that ended with impromptu dancing. Her home was warm, welcoming, and beautiful, filled with an eclectic and colorful collection of paintings from emerging artists, objects d’art, folk art, and, of course, flowers.
While she loved to travel and saw much of the world over the years, she was never happier than when she was with family and friends near the ocean. With her husband, Mrs. Hedden owned homes in Nantucket for over 25 years where she entertained family and friends from far and wide. Mrs. Hedden was also a devoted fan of the beautiful beach and creek vistas of Pawleys Island, SC. In retirement, she had a home in Boca Grande, FL, enjoying sunsets, long walks, and tennis with her family.
Mrs. Hedden is survived by her three children, John H. Hedden and Stephanie H. Mathurin, of Washington, DC, with their children Adele M. Hedden, Lottie M. Hedden and her spouse Samuel J. Miller, and Philip M. Hedden; Shirley M. Hedden and David L. Pearson of Brooklyn, NY, with their children Eleanor M. Pearson and Henry O. Pearson; and Daphne H. Greenwood and Jonathan B. Greenwood of Bethesda, MD, with their children Michael B. Greenwood and Hannah P. Greenwood; along with her sister Ann F. Coxe of Asheville, NC, sister-in-law Emmie S. Field of Asheville, NC, sister-in-law Martha M. Field of Newport News, VA, and many cousins, nephews, and nieces.
The family is deeply grateful for the exceptional love and care the Cedar Creek Memory Care Homes and their staff provided to both parents in the final months of their lives.
Contributions in her memory may be made to: 1) The Washington Cathedral at https://cathedral.org/support-ministries/ with firstname.lastname@example.org as the acknowledgment email address, or 2) The Flagg Galleries Renovation at The Corcoran Gallery of Art Collection of The National Gallery of Art by sending a check to The Corcoran Gallery of Art, P.O. Box 164, Falls Church, VA 22046l, indicating Sis Hedden in the memo field.