A Gift that Gives On

Barbara Harty with her grandmother in Hawaii

From the moment she was born, Barbara Kennedy Harty shared a special connection with her grandmother.

That’s because as first granddaughter in her family, Harty was named for her “Gammie,” Barbara Cox Anthony.

“My parents were smart to do this, because it was the beginning of what turned out to be a wonderful granddaughter-grandmother relationship,” Harty said. “I have always felt so blessed to have had such a close and comfortable relationship with my grandmother.”

Some of Harty’s best memories involve childhood trips to Anthony’s home in Honolulu.

“At a young age my parents started letting me go by myself to visit her,” she said. “We would go swimming, eat our favorite foods, watch TV and go to sleep in her big bed with all of her dogs.”

Growing up, Harty was a dedicated student, but sometimes struggled in school.

“I can remember the weight of that fear of disappointing my parents and myself,” she said.

But her grandmother always had a way of cheering her up. “She would make me feel better through humor or stories,” Harty said. “She would joke with my father about getting down his old reports cards so that I could see how he had performed in school.”

To Anthony’s delight, Harty earned a bachelor of science at Peabody with a double major in early childhood education and special education, and entered the teaching profession.

A few years later, Harty’s grandmother passed away. In honor of her namesake’s time at Peabody, Anthony left a $4 million bequest to the college, which is helping educate a new generation of teachers through Opportunity Vanderbilt.

“I would like to say I was the inspiration for this gift, but she always wanted to share what she had,” Harty said. “Gammie was very generous and a longtime supporter of education in many ways. I’m just proud to be a part of such an amazing gift.”

Harty lives in London, England, with her husband and three children. Her eldest daughter is named, not surprisingly, Barbara. The letters Harty receives from scholarship recipients are happy reminders of her grandmother’s love, generosity and dedication to education.

“Reading those letters gives me so much hope for the future of education and teachers,” Harty said. “They will take this knowledge and help children grow and develop into active and eager learners. My grandmother would have wanted that.”