University of Pittsburgh


Enduring Melody

Endowed scholarships honor family and nurture future talent

Written by Michelle K. Massie

Anne Putnam Mallinson’s house was full of music. She often sang casually as she cooked or accomplished tasks, and there was usually something playing on the stereo when she was nearby. She had a collection of more than 300 albums, many containing show tunes dating from the 1950s. She especially enjoyed the singing of Julie Andrews and Barbra Streisand, and she loved Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. Her favorite song, though, was Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” a musical classic in tune with her passion for the arts and her vibrant love of life.

“Music was the center of her life,” says her husband William Mallinson (CBA ’55). “It was in her bones.” But she wasn’t high-brow in the least. “She carried a kazoo with her everywhere,” he says. “Her friends would say, ‘Anne, you’re not dressed without your kazoo.’”

In the wider world, she was, in fact, an accomplished singer and pianist. An alto, she sang with the Pittsburgh Camerata, a professional chamber choir, and was a fixture with the choir at Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church in her hometown of Warren, Pa. Yet, despite her musical talent, she did not aspire to be a professional musician. She enjoyed performing in local productions in Warren and Pittsburgh and mentoring younger performers. “She was happy on the small stage,” says Mallinson. “She had no ego; she was just a humble person.”

Anne Mallinson, a 27-year survivor of breast cancer, died in June 2008. For a time, the music stopped, but her husband has found a way to keep her memory alive for others.

He established the Anne Putnam Mallinson Scholarship Fund last year. It is the single largest scholarship gift received by the Pitt-Bradford campus, which is located in the region where the couple met in 1965, when William Mallinson worked for what was then Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania in the district of Warren, Pa. The scholarship will provide assistance to undergraduate students at Pitt-Bradford who reside in Warren County or adjacent counties and are in pursuit of an interdisciplinary arts degree. The initial scholarship will be awarded in the fall 2009 semester.

Today, Mallinson—now retired from Verizon—lives in a home in Forest Hills, a suburb of Pittsburgh. Even here, he is surrounded by remembrances of his wife’s life. They were married for 41 years. He sits in his living room, recalling memories, as sunshine and spring breezes push through an open door.

“The arts were in her DNA,” Mallinson says. “Anne’s parents were able and willing piano players, as is her brother, Chase Putnam. Her family would have musical evenings where they would gather friends around the piano, pull out the song books, and just sing and sing and sing.”

Like many of her classmates and neighbors, she enjoyed performing in high school musicals and later with local community theater productions. She attended Chatham College in Pittsburgh and earned a bachelor’s degree in music in 1961. While at Chatham, she cowrote “Rachel’s Song” in honor of alumnus Rachel Carson, founder of the modern environmental movement. Later in life, Anne Mallinson served as a Chatham trustee.

Throughout much of her adulthood, she was an active volunteer and performer with arts organizations. She took her love of theater very seriously and would volunteer in any capacity needed, from collecting props to working the ticket booth to performing onstage.  Her notable credits included working with the Warren Players, the Friends of the Library Theatre, the Library Theatre Summer Playhouse, Plowright Playhouse, and the Philomel Club.

In addition to pursuing a commitment to the arts, the Mallinsons also established and made annual contributions to various scholarship funds at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1976, William Mallinson—originally a native of Johnstown, Pa.—established the Hubert H. Mallinson Memorial Scholarships to honor his late father, a well-respected Johnstown banker who had taught his son the value of hard work, saving money, devotion to family, and the importance of education.

“I feel that when you give a scholarship—an endowed scholarship—it’s perpetual; it goes on forever,” says Mallinson. For more than 30 years, the couple continued to pay tribute to family members by establishing four scholarships at Pitt campuses. Mallinson says that his wife received great joy from reading the handwritten thank-you notes from scholarship recipients throughout the years.

He decided to establish the Anne Putnam Mallinson Scholarship Fund at Pitt-Bradford because of factors ranging from the institution’s picturesque setting, to its highly respected faculty and staff, to its excellent infrastructure. He also notes that many of the students come from small towns similar to his wife’s hometown and that the scholarship provides an opportunity for promising students in rural communities to attend college. Now, says Mallinson, “Anne’s scholarship will give a financial boost to students to achieve their dream of receiving a college education in an arts-related curriculum.”

Anne Putnam Mallinson was an artist and supporter of the arts throughout her life. The scholarship named in her honor will not only serve as a lasting homage, but perhaps give the greatest gift of all—an opportunity for deserving college students to use their talents to fill the world with beauty, life, and—quite possibly—music.