Anita Elizabeth Page Lindner, 87, a high school physical education teacher and coach in Philadelphia for 37 years, died Sunday, Oct. 11, at her home in Yeadon. The cause of death was not immediately known.
The Page family had roots in Ardmore, where Anita Page was born and spent her childhood.
The daughter of Thomas Barzilla Page and Charlotte Curtis Page, Mrs. Lindner had a severe case of rheumatic fever as a toddler that almost left her unable to walk. When she recovered, the little girl celebrated by singing and dancing in her crib, the family said in a tribute.
During her teens, she developed an appreciation for dance, athletics, and music by participating in school sports at Lower Merion High School and by playing the violin for the school orchestra.
According to the NAACP Crisis magazine, she attracted national recognition as the “first [Black] girl to captain a basketball squad at Lower Merion High School,” leading the team to a 6-2 record during the 1949-50 season, the family said in its statement.
In addition to her school activities, Mrs. Lindner served the Ardmore community as a Sunday school teacher and as a counselor on the township’s playgrounds, where she was known for her skill in tennis.
After graduating from Lower Merion High School in 1950, Mrs. Lindner enrolled in West Chester State Teachers College and was invited to compete on the varsity women’s field hockey and basketball teams.
There were no housing accommodations for people of color on the campus, so Mrs. Lindner challenged the coaches to find her lodging, the family said.
She would not commute late at night between West Chester and her family home in Ardmore, she told college officials. If they wanted her to play for West Chester, she would have to live on campus. In the fall of 1950, Anita Page and her roommate became among the first African American students to live on campus.
While at West Chester, she competed on the field hockey and basketball teams, served in various clubs and committees, and was on the cheerleading squad. She also pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
After graduating from West Chester State Teachers College with a bachelor’s degree in 1954, Mrs. Lindner became among the first African American women to teach physical education and health at the high school level in the School District of Philadelphia.
In 1955, she married Stanley B. Lindner Jr. They built a house in Yeadon, where they raised their four children. Much later, son Steven K. Lindner became a Lower Merion Township commissioner representing Ward 4 in Ardmore. He served on the governing panel from 2009 through 2013.
Mrs. Lindner earned a master’s degree from her alma mater, now West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Later, she earned a master’s degree from Temple University.
She was a physical education teacher and girls' athletic coach at West Philadelphia High School for more than 37 years. She coached various sports.
In addition to her professional coaching duties, Mrs. Lindner was certified as a girls' basketball referee. She was a Cub Scout leader and a Red Cross volunteer.
She often spent summers teaching and certifying ordinary people in the lifesaving skill of cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Mrs. Lindner’s husband, a longtime teacher and principal in the Philadelphia public schools, died in 2014. A sister also died earlier.
In addition to her son Steven, she is survived by children Stanley Lindner 3d, Susan Boykin, and Spencer Scott Lindner; five grandchildren; a sister; and many nieces and nephews. Another sister died earlier.
A visitation starting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, will be followed by a 10:30 memorial service at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 36 Ardmore Ave., Ardmore. Masks must be worn and social distancing observed.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Red Cross, Southeastern Pennsylvania Region, 2221 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19103.