Philanthropist and champion of science education and environmental conservation

Remembering Whitehead Institute friend Emily V. Wade

The Whitehead Institute community is remembering, with great fondness and appreciation,  Emily Wade. Known to friends and associates as “Paddy,” Wade died this past February at the age of 98. Paddy was a wonderful and accomplished person who was part of the Whitehead community for nearly two decades.

Wade participated in numerous educational activities at Whitehead Institute and was a member of the Directors Circle, recognizing her long-term philanthropic contributions to the Institute. She was also deeply engaged at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where she earned a B.S. in Chemistry in 1945, served a term as President of the MIT Alumni Association, and was an emeritus member of the MIT Corporation.

Among her many accomplishments, Wade was founder and President of the Board of Wade Institute for Science Education, created in 1986 to train elementary school teachers to help their students develop an appreciation for science. The organization has since grown to include an array of programs and services for elementary and secondary school teachers and for informal educators. For her many professional contributions to science education, Wade was inducted into the Massachusetts Hall of Fame for Science Educators.

Wade’s support for the Institute’s biomedical research and science education were only two facets of her generous philanthropy, which benefited organizations addressing the environment, healthcare, social services, and the arts. Environmental conservation was a particular focus of her philanthropic initiatives: She created the Wade Tract Preserve in Georgia, which comprises 200 acres of old-growth forest and was  the state’s first conservation easement; and the Wade-established Greenwood Research Foundation manages 1,000 acres of old-growth forest for research on the ecology of the longleaf yellow pine forest. She was the 2010 recipient of Mass Audubon’s Allen Morgan Award for Lifetime Achievement.

In a 1989 interview, Wade observed, “I’m an idea person. I have lots of ideas. I don’t expect people to buy into all my ideas, necessarily, but at least when I voice them, it gets people thinking.”

The Whitehead community will miss her ideas, her enthusiasm, and her commitment.


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