Obituary: Anne Willoughby DiMase, 90

by | Nov 12, 2023

Served on the EG School Committee in the 1970s

Anne Willoughby DiMase of Warwick, 90, beloved daughter of the late Miranda Goodrie and Raymond Royce Willoughby, passed away Oct. 11. She is preceded in death by her sister, Joan Sharpe of San Jose, Calif., brother Alan Willoughby of East Greenwich, and brother Hugh Willoughby of Riverside.

Anne had four children with Dr. Joseph DiMase. She was a loving, supportive mother of Debora Omari of Sterling Heights, Mich., Laura Chellis, Sherrie DiMase, and Daniel DiMase, of East Greenwich. She is also survived by nine grandchildren, Amina, Jay, Amel, Matthew, Maria, Michael, Shane, Jason, and Vanessa. She was blessed with a number of dear friends whom she cherished and spoke of often. To all of these many loved ones, her home was a lively hub of joy in times of celebration, and a welcoming place of comfort in times of difficulty.

Anne was born in Worcester, Mass., on Feb. 12, 1933, and spent most of her life in New England. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in early childhood education. She then won a fellowship for graduate studies in human development and human relations at Merrill Palmer Institute in Michigan. Later, Anne studied anthropology at Brown University, and social work at Rhode Island College.

Anne was passionate about early childhood education and spent years advocating for higher standards in this field and for students with special needs. She spent her early years serving as the director of a school for disabled children in Springfield, Mass. She then taught third grade in Dedham, Mass., and later in Cincinnati, Ohio. After moving back to Rhode Island, she taught at the Meeting Street School in Providence. She went on to found and teach at the East Greenwich Cooperative Nursery School. Anne served on the East Greenwich School Committee, where she advocated for individualized educational programs for students. Later, she taught at the John Hope Day Care Center, where she started a parents group and did social work at the John Hope Settlement House. She also directed several Head Start programs, as well as a day care center in Lima, Ohio, and one in Glendale, Calif.

Additionally, Anne established and directed a new infant-toddler center and preschool in Middletown while directing four day care programs at Child and Family Services of Newport County. When she reached standard retirement age, Anne took a job at AAA in Providence. She finally (and reluctantly) settled into her well-deserved retirement at the age of 80. Wherever she worked and lived, Anne was a source of support and guidance, and she stayed in touch with many of her mentees throughout her life.

In addition to spending time with her children, grandchildren and friends, Anne loved poetry and history, particularly hearing the stories of those that came before her. She believed deeply in justice, compassion, and equality, values informed by her faith and studies of Christianity, Buddhism, and Vedanta Hinduism. In keeping with these practices, she was a pacifist and supporter of the Civil Rights movement. She also loved music, particularly the jazz of her youth and the folk music of the ‘50s and ‘60s, and spending time in nature.

Anne was a member of the Providence Friends Meeting and was affiliated with the Vedanta Society of Providence. There will be a traditional Quaker Memorial Service to celebrate her life Nov. 18 at 11 a.m. at the Providence Friends Meeting House at 99 Morris St. Fellowship will follow at noon. All those who were blessed to have known Anne are welcome to attend either or both.

Find the obituary at the funeral home site HERE.

Read Anne DiMase’s resignation letter from the School Committee in 1978 HERE.

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EG News Obituary Policy: We post obituaries relevant to our readers. If you would like to share an obituary, send it to [email protected]. Put “obituary” in the subject line. 

Posted 11/12/23

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November 15, 2023 5:09 pm

Indeed, Anne’s home was both a hub of joy and a refuge for many! She taught me to be a friend.


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