EAST BRIDGEWATER — Anne Kenneally Hynes spent more than four decades at the now-shuttered building that was the East Bridgewater Junior-Senior High.
A 1950 graduate of the school and a teacher, librarian, mentor, and wise counsel to generations of students who was also known for the many cards she sent for others’ special occasions, Hynes retired in 1995 and died in 2011, but her former students and colleagues haven’t forgotten.
On Feb. 14, the School Committee voted to name the library at the new East Bridgewater Junior-Senior High in her memory. The library is expected to be formally dedicated on Nov. 29, when reunions centered around Thanksgiving will bring many former students back to the area.
And now, it seems the community has gotten behind the Anne Kenneally Hynes Memorial Scholarship Fund. The kick-off event for the fund held on June 1 in the old school library found former students and colleagues swapping stories about Hynes’s generosity and selflessness, and the legendary birthday cards she sent to former students and staff members, their children, and grandchildren, for more than 40 years.
Longtime friend and colleague Pat Cronin said the scholarship kick-off was the type of event Hynes would have avoided.
“Anne preferred to remain in the background — usually disappearing completely — once she had managed to set into motion a series of seemingly miraculous events that would in some small or large way celebrate someone else’s accomplishments,” said Cronin.
The scholarship fund has already raised more than $20,000 toward a goal of $100,000.
Ginny O’Kelly, a former student and colleague of Hynes and one of the eight members of the scholarship executive board, said beginning with the Class of 2014, seniors will be able to apply for awards from the largest scholarship fund ever offered by the community.
Alumna Christine Resendes, a vice president at East Bridgewater Savings Bank, announced a matching gift of $10,000 at the kick-off event, while O’Kelly and fellow members of the 50th anniversary Class of 1963 contributed $6,063.
The scholarship committee hopes to hold a major fund-raiser each year on June 15, Hynes’s birthday, a day chosen to recognize Hynes’s attention to life events.
“We used to joke that she owned a piece of Hallmark,” said longtime friend Kristine Nash, in the eulogy she delivered at Hynes’s funeral.
Nash described how Hynes could often be seen at card stores in the area buying birthday or anniversary cards for the upcoming month. She had a calendar book that was chock full of the names and addresses of all her friends and acquaintances and the dates of their special occasions, Nash said.
Among the recipients were the five children and the wife of School Committee chairman George McCabe, who first encountered Hynes as a student and later became a colleague, spending 36 years in the social studies department.
“She even sent me a card every year on the feast day of St. George,” said McCabe, who marveled at both her organizational skills and memory. “Not only did she know where every book was in the library, but she knew where every former student was and what he and she was doing. It was like having a one-person alumni association.”
One of the legacies of Hynes’s long tenure in the library is a collection of works called the Spirit Library, which were carefully packed away for transfer to the new library.
“The Spirit Library has works from anyone who graduated from East Bridgewater High,” said O’Kelly. “If you graduated from East Bridgewater High and later had something published while Anne was at the school, you’re in there.”
Hynes kept up her connections with many former students who went on to writing careers, including Dan Rodricks, an award-winning Baltimore Sun columnist who is also a noted author and TV and radio personality.
“Anne Hynes and her library were the center of life of EB High — sort of like the center of town within a town,“ said Rodricks via e-mail. “Students and faculty gathered there, confided in Mrs. Hynes. She helped us with studies but also with all those issues that come along in the teen years. She was the great encourager, always optimistic, always daring kids to do excellent work.”
He said the cards Hynes sent were a way “to make sure we never forgot where we came from.”
McCabe said the reason he believes the scholarship fund drive will be the most successful in the history of the town is simple. “A school — and a community — needs people who know how to connect with other people. Anne Hynes dedicated her life to those kids and that school.”
For more information about the Anne Kenneally Hynes Memorial Scholarship, contact the scholarship’s board of directors at firstname.lastname@example.org.Rich Fahey can be reached at email@example.com.