Ann Lee Smith Bugbee, 83, died at Christiana Hospital on Monday, November 17 after a brief hospitalization. She is survived by her husband of 58 years Dick and her two daughters; Elizabeth Abrahams and her sons Nathaniel and Benjamin; and Sally Keidel and her husband Phil and their children Charlie and Maggie. She is also survived by her sisters Ivy MacMahon and Victoria Schilling. She was born in Boston, MA to the Reverend Dr. Charles W. F. Smith and Ivy Rose Constance Watkins Smith. She first lived in Exeter, NH and then Washington, DC. There she went to the Beauvoir School. Upon moving to Wellesley, MA, she attended the Tenacre School of Dana Hall. After moving to Cambridge, MA, she attended and graduated from the Buckingham School. She graduated from Wellesley College with B.A. in History, which led to her life interest, work and study in that area.
Ann Lee was a museum guide par excellence. She first volunteered with the Wilmington Junior League as a Spring Tour Guide at Winterthur Museum. Here she began her life-long love and study of the decorative arts. After moving to the Harrisburg area, she was on the staff of the John Harris Mansion and treasurer of the Dauphin County Historical Society. Upon returning to Wilmington, she became curator of Old Swedes Church for five years, where she guided tours, started the gift store for Advent and researched genealogies.
Ann Lee then began a nearly 35-year tenure at Winterthur Museum; first as an apprentice guide and rising to Senior guide, specializing in furniture, clocks and rugs. She organized and led several trips for guides and visits to the major NYC auction houses during Museum week, and mentored new guides. She spoke to Elder Hostel groups and was an avid member of the Decorative Arts Trust. She was member of the Delaware Wellesley Club, serving a term as President.
With both of her parents’ being English, Ann Lee became a true Anglophile. Starting with royalty coloring books and stories and National Velvet (her first movie), Ann Lee embraced British culture and traditions including the British fashion of wearing hats. She traveled to England as often as she was able, twice in her early years, then as a college graduate and twice for Attingham Summer schools: the English Country house and the Royal Collection. At one point, she was thrilled to see the Queen up close at Windsor Castle. On the several times her husband went with her, he was amazed at the breadth and depth of her knowledge.
Ann Lee also loved New England. It was where she was raised and returned as often as possible. She loved the Dalton Place, the Smith family 1770 farmhouse in NH, and the Bugbee family 1890 cottage on Heron Island, ME. She spent many hours on Stone Harbor beach, enjoying the warmth of the sun and sand and the sounds of the ocean.
She loved a good party, throwing it or going to one. She was a very good cook and tried new meals often. Although she planned well, she often said “we’ll make it up as we go along.” Ann Lee had many lifelong friends; she made friends easily and was keen on keeping up with them.
Ann Lee was a huge part of our lives and she will be sorely missed.
Her Celebration of Life will be held on Monday, November 25, 2019 from the Trinity Episcopal Church, 1108 N. Adams Street, Wilmington, DE at 11 am.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests contributions to Winterthur Museum, c/o Philanthropy Donations, 5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, DE 19735. Please note on the memo line “In memory of Ann Lee Bugbee.” The funds will be used to support the library where she spent many hours studying the decorative arts.