Friends of Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway

Bruni Ridgway at Bryn Mawr

Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway in her Bryn Mawr College office, circa 1985 (photo courtesy of Bruce Stromberg/Bryn Mawr College Special Collections)

Welcome to the American School of Classical Studies! It was the summer of 1971. A group of graduate (and a few undergraduate) students, as well as fellow teachers and professors from all over America, gathered nervously to meet the professor in charge of their Summer Session. We were invited to a brief chronological overview to refresh us on the history needed to experience the close contact we were going to have with the material culture of ancient Greece.

From that engaging first meeting, we all knew that Professor Brunilde (Bruni) Sismondo Ridgway was something really special, really unique. Her command of detail, her ability to communicate, her enthusiasm, her animated working of worry beads turned in coordination with her speaking resembled some kind of surreal punctuation as she grasped the minds and hearts of each of us for every day onward.

Bruni made that summer of intense learning, walking, study, and ingesting—monument after monument. Looking at sculpture with her narration became similar to watching an artist bring form out of material. For my entire teaching career, Bruni has been an inspiration to me personally. She found time to be on my Ph.D. committee sixteen years later. Her contribution on that level was superb and enabled me to complete what I had been privileged to begin for two quick years at Bryn Mawr.

I am sure everyone who reads this letter will have their own special recollection of this unique and superb human being who recently celebrated nine decades of vigorous and productive life. While I write specifically to those who were in the 1971 Summer Sessions of the American School, my comments must assuredly find some resonance with everyone who has ever been in contact with the one and only Mrs. Ridgway.

Why the letter?  

In conjunction with several other “Bruniites,” I want to spearhead a drive to raise funds to have a room at the American School dedicated to Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway. Joining me in this effort are Professors James Wright, Mary Sturgeon, and Kim Hartswick. We are asking each of you to contribute to a special fund initiated by us to achieve this goal.

In these hard times, it is inspiring to know that we take time to honor such a tremendous scholar and human being.


Henry V. Bender
St. Joseph’s University

Bruni Ridgway's Official Portrait

Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway's official Bryn Mawr College portrait, 1997 (photo courtesy of Larry Kesterson/Bryn Mawr College Special Collections)


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