Ann Hennessey Jewell

Ann Hennessey Jewell

1904 – 1986

Ann Hennessey Jewell. LCHS Collection.

Ann Hennessey Jewell was born in Fall River on September 4, 1904. She grew up in a multigenerational household: not only her parents William J. Hennessey and Alice Malone Hennessey and her three siblings Bill, Helen and Alice, but her mother’s parents and unmarried sisters as well.  Her father worked as a driver for the Fall River Laundry and later took over the Malone family variety store.

While a student at BMC Durfee High School, she became lifelong friends with Ethel Jewell of Little Compton. After completing her education Ann secured a teaching job in Little Compton at the one-room schoolhouse on Long Highway between Peckham and Colebrook Roads. During this time in the early 1920s, she boarded with Ethel’s parents, John and Henrietta Jewell. While living with the Jewells she met their son Willard, who had recently embarked on doctoral studies at Princeton University. Eventually their friendship ripened, deepened and led to marriage. Ann sometimes joked that she married Willard to join Ethel’s family.

When Willard received his PhD in Geology, he was offered a temporary teaching position at Vanderbilt University. Consequently, the young couple, newborn son John in tow, headed south of the Mason-Dixon line for the first time. The “impermanent” position at Vandy would turn into the chairmanship of the Geology Department and last more than 40 years. Even though Nashville became their home, they spent every summer in Little Compton (except for a war year or two) to reconnect with their respective families. In 1967 Willard’s retirement was on the horizon and he planned to move back to Rhode Island where he loved to fish the Sakonnet waters for tautog and sea bass. Unfortunately, Dr. Jewell suffered a devastating stroke before they could return, and Ann would spend the next two and a half years caring for her husband as his health continued to decline. After Willard died in 1969, Ann decided to remain in Nashville, where she had many friends, but continued to summer in Little Compton. By this time, she had begun taking lessons from a painter in Nashville who encouraged her to experiment with different subjects and styles. As her work improved, she became more and more interested in art, volunteering as a docent at Cheekwood, Nashville’s leading museum of the fine arts. And, though she did paint irises and daffodils that sprouted in her spring garden in Nashville, most of her work would be rendered during those summers in Little Compton: landscapes; still lifes of carefully arranged objects; different views of the Jewell property on Maple Avenue, now owned by daughter Barbara and her husband Pat Pond; and ocean scenes, including one that depicts a fisherman who looks very much like Willard. In addition, gratified by the care that the doctors and nurses had given Willard during his long stay in Vanderbilt Hospital Ann began to volunteer there.  Over the next fifteen years she became one of the most active and honored members of the volunteer organization.  Ann Jewell died in Nashville in December 1986.

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