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Anne Marquess Garrott, a civic leader in Philadelphia for more than half a century, was born December 27, 1914 and departed this life peacefully on Monday, August 12, 2013 at Chandler Hall in Bucks County. She was the third of three children born to the late Dr. John Miller Marquess and Anna Dickson Marquess while they lived on the campus of Langston University in Oklahoma where Dr. Marquess served as president of the school.

Anne lived a joyous life as a child on the campus where she demonstrated high intelligence as well as a very inquisitive mind. The family moved to Philadelphia when she was nine years old at the end of her father’s term as Langston university president. She attended Philadelphia public schools and began her life-long association with Southwest Belmont YWCA in the grand 3-story newly constructed building at 1605 Catharine Street upon arrival here. This structure

was the dream of Black Philadelphia churchwomen who began their effort as the Colored Women’s Christian Association in 1870. Anne learned to swim in its Olympic-sized pool and taught others the skill while she refined her abilities in other sports, such as tennis and badminton.

Anne waited a few years after graduating from Girl’s High School before she enrolled at the University of Southern California. She majored in Physical Education and became a champion swimmer, celebrated badminton athlete and graduated cum laude.  She was initiated into Pi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta National Sorority, Inc. at USC in 1945.  She later earned a Master of Science degree from the University of Illinois and other graduate credits from the Adelphia School of Social Work at the University of Indiana and the University of Pittsburgh.


Anne met James D. Garrott at a St. Louis USO while she worked with the local YWCA and he was a second lieutenant in the Army Air Force during World War II.  They married in 1948 and spent the next 45 years together. As Jim moved to different posts in Japan, the Philippines, and the US, Anne held nearly every staff and volunteer position at YWCAs around the country, including being the first African American executive director of the Bucks County YWCA.  In Philadelphia, she served in many positions including Chair of the Southwest Belmont Board of Directors and was a member of the Metropolitan YWCA Board of Directors. Jim Garrott retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel in 1962 after serving 22 years and he and Anne took up residence in Langhorne, Bucks County until his death in 1993.

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When she returned to the Philadelphia area, the preservation of Southwest Belmont YWCA became the driving passion of Anne’s life. In 1994, the organization became Southwest Belmont Community Association, an independent entity, when the Central YWCA of Philadelphia went bankrupt.  Anne was the key player in purchasing the building and continuing many programs and activities for more than a decade.

Because of a worsening financial situation, the decision was made to sell the building, which has allowed the Board to establish an endowment as a 501c3 public foundation. Investment revenue from the endowment will support continuing efforts to improve the lives and environment of people in the greater Philadelphia area. The Anne M. Garrott Leadership Endowment will exist forever and is a means of continuing the legacy of Southwest Belmont YWCA.  A formal scholarship program will be unveiled in the spring of 2014.

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