Published On: Wed, Dec 28th, 2016

Passing of Shirley Richmond Hart, 90, of New Hope

shirley hart | new hope free pressShirley Richmond Hart died at Pennswood Village in Newtown on Dec. 24. She was born in Boston on Feb. 25, 1926, raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., and lived for more than three decades in New Hope.

Shirley received her B.A. in Social Work from Hunter College in 1947. She and her sister Ora Richmond Meyer, who preceded her in death, were the first in their family to complete college educations. After World War II, she worked with concentration camp survivors as a social worker for the City of New York.

Shirley Richmond married Robert Hart in 1951, and had two children, Claudia and David. The family moved to River Road in New Hope in the early 1980s, and after the couple divorced in 1995, Shirley moved to the nearby Waterworks development.

Throughout her life, Shirley was a passionate, caring, visionary activist fighting for social justice and women’s equality. In Bucks County, where she lived for over 40 years, her accomplishments were manifold.

A three-time cancer survivor, Shirley was the initial organizer of the Fox Chase Board of Associates of Bucks County that raised money for cancer research. She also organized a breast cancer support group at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

After joining the League of Women Voters (LWV), she worked with her elected officials to quadruple the reach of the Bucks County Women, Infants and Children’s (WIC) program that helps pregnant women, mothers and caregivers of infants and young children learn about good nutrition to help keep themselves and their families healthy.

In 1983, she lead the LWV to pioneer the use of public access cable television as a tool for nonpartisan community groups to create documentaries about social justice issues. For almost 25 years, she produced and directed the League’s award-winning “At Issue” and “Let’s Talk” programs on topics such as clean water, bio-terrorism, teen pregnancy, juvenile justice, breast cancer, among many others. The project drew younger women to the League, and gave them an opportunity to develop new talents in the broadcast field.

In her seventies, Shirley wrote, produced and hosted her own weekly public access show, “That Certain Age,” about issues of aging and how to maintain an active and meaningful life into one’s later years. Talking with anyone who crossed her path, going to the movies, reading, singing Broadway show tunes, and dancing to jazz where her favorite pastimes. She always dreamed of being an actress. “That Certain Age” put her in front of the camera that she loved.

Shirley also served as president of the Bucks County Health Department Board for 15 years until 2006. In 1993, during her Health Department tenure, she was a founder of the Bucks County Health Improvement Partnership (BCHIP), a collaboration by Bucks County hospitals and the Department of Health to address gaps in health services to our most vulnerable citizens, and to improve the health status of the community.

Shirley was a quintessential volunteer and activist. Beside the LWV Board and Health Department Board, she also served on the Board of Big Brother Big Sisters of Bucks County, co-chaired the Bucks County Transportation Task Force, was Secretary of the Bucks County Transportation Management Association (TMA), lead the Teen Pregnancy Task Force, and was president of the Board of the New Hope Library. In recognition of her extensive contributions to the community, Shirley received several awards, including the Bucks County Women’s History Month Award in 2000.  Throughout her life, her drive and can-do vision inspired and motivated women to work for change.

Shirley Hart is survived by her children Claudia Hart and her husband, Kurt Hentschlager, and David Hart and his wife Terri Bianco and their two children, Jacob and Anna.

The family requests that donations be made to the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Bucks County in her honor either online or by sending a check to the League of Women Voters of Bucks County, P.O. Box 975, Doylestown, PA 18901-0975.

Obituary information provided by family.

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