Vanderbilt Magazine

Patricia Ingram Hart, BA’57, philanthropist and civic leader, has died

From left, Dean Camilla P. Benbow, Patricia Ingram Hart and Rodes Hart at the 2002 dinner in honor of the endowment of the Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean’s Chair at Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development. (John Russell/Vanderbilt University)

Patricia Ingram Hart, one of Vanderbilt University’s most generous benefactors, died Aug. 13 at her home in Nashville. She was 86. 

“Patricia’s long-standing dedication to Vanderbilt has been deeply transformative for the university,” Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said. “Touching everything from athletics to medicine, to research and scholarship across the disciplines, her impact will benefit Vanderbilt and society for decades to come. We are profoundly grateful for her immense generosity and leadership.”  

With her husband, Trustee Emeritus H. Rodes Hart, BA’54, she supported more than 65 areas at the university. Together, they endowed eight faculty chairs at Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development, including the Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean’s Chair; endowed two faculty chairs in urologic surgery and one in medicine; created the Patricia and Rodes Hart Scholarship and the Hart Graduate Scholarship; and made generous gifts to the Susan Gray School, Vanderbilt Athletics, Blair School of Music, the College of Arts and Science, childhood cancer research and other initiatives within the university and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.   

“Peabody College simply would not be the leader that it is without the longtime support of Patricia and Rodes,” said Dean Camilla Benbow, who holds the dean’s chair they endowed. “Patricia was deeply committed to strengthening education, of course, but importantly she became a dear friend. We will miss her.” 

A native Nashvillian, Patricia Hart was born to civic and business leaders Hortense Bigelow Ingram and Orrin Henry Ingram. She attended Parmer School and Ward-Belmont in Nashville before graduating from St. Timothy’s School in Baltimore. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Vanderbilt in 1957. In 1958, she married alumnus Rodes Hart, a businessman with Franklin Brick Company, which would grow into one of the largest suppliers of industrial and agricultural minerals in the country.   

Hart was active in many civic organizations in Nashville, including the Junior League Home for Crippled Children before and after its move to Vanderbilt University Children’s Hospital in 1970, now Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. For two decades she served on the board of the West End Home for Ladies, co-founded by her mother. She held leadership roles at Fifty Forward, STARS, United Way and Bridges. Together with her husband, she was a founding member of the de Tocqueville Society of the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville.  

In addition to her husband of 64 years, she is survived by her sister-in-law, former Chairman of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust Martha Rivers Ingram; her children, Henry Rodes Hart Jr., BA’83; Patti Rodes Hart Smallwood, ’86; Kevin Ingram Hart; 10 grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.