Honoring Edith A. Reinhardt

It is with sadness, yet with gratitude and appreciation for her long life and all that she accomplished on behalf of others, that we lament the loss of our former leader, Edith A. Reinhardt. Edith was President of The Presser Foundation and her philanthropic work, particularly but not entirely, among music organizations is legendary. She was a bold leader who worked tirelessly on behalf of the arts and those less fortunate. In addition to The Presser Foundation she served many other nonprofits as a guiding spirit and board member. She was also justifiably proud of having broken barriers on behalf of women. Because of Edith’s zeal, dedication, and hard work, music education and performance in our city and the region was strengthened for all time, and we are grateful.

Obituary of Edith A. Reinhardt

Edith A. Reinhardt of Philadelphia died on Wednesday, September 16, at the age of 98 at Fair Acres Geriatric Center in Media, PA. Even though Edith had not been active in the arts community for several years, “it is not hyperbole to say that an era has passed with her and Philadelphia has lost a significant arts leader and philanthropist, as well as a trailblazing executive and, a great lady,” wrote David Hayes, former musical director of The Philadelphia Singers. David expressed the thoughts of many in saying: “Her loss will be felt as a chasm in the arts community.” Edith was born on April 29,1922, and grew up in Philadelphia with her sister and parents, Charles Reinhardt and Rebecca Gallagher. In her youth, she enjoyed social dancing and vacations to Atlantic City with her family. During World War II, having suffered the loss of a loved one in the Air Force, Edith began her service with the Red Cross. She would go on to serve as the President of the Philadelphia Red Cross. After receiving her undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, one of few women in her class, Edith began her career at Fidelity Bank and worked her way to being the first woman trust officer and a Senior Vice President of the bank. Having been a talented and aspiring opera singer, Edith expressed her love for the vocal arts through an unwavering commitment to strengthening music institutions in the greater Philadelphia area through her philanthropy and leadership. She was a benefactor, served on Boards, and held leadership positions at the Settlement Music School, the Academy of Vocal Arts, Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia Orchestra, Philadelphia Singers, Musical Fund Society, Chamber Music Society, Philadelphia Opera Company, and Darlington Arts Center. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Presser Foundation for decades—again, the first woman member—where she worked tirelessly to ensure the survival of myriad arts institutions in this role. She was also a pioneer for women in business and philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. Edith was known for finding time to mentor young professionals in their artistic, philanthropic, and business endeavors. She was a cheerleader, a counselor, and even a dispenser of tough love and reality when needed. Upon leaving Fidelity Bank in 1987, Edith co-founded the firm Hemmenway & Reinhardt, Inc. in Swarthmore, with her friend and business partner, Peter W. Hemmenway, specializing in non-profit planned giving services. In her free time, Edith enjoyed opera, the symphony, and theater, the company of her dear friends, and a good martini. Into her early 80’s, she kept up her family tradition of trips to Atlantic City, traveling there by train almost every weekend. Edith Reinhardt will be remembered for her grace, her generosity, and her indomitable spirit—like a beautiful piece of music sung from the soul. She is survived by the arts community that she nourished and her closest friends – Michael Palage, Diana and Michael Hemmenway. Memorial gifts may be made to the scholarship funds of Darlington Arts Center (https://www.darlingtonarts.org/) or Settlement Music School (https://settlementmusic.org/).

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