EDITOR'S NOTE: Daily News classical music writer Tom Di Nardo, who grew up in Philadelphia, shares a personal recollection of Marian Anderson:
In 1930, alumna Marian Anderson was announced as the graduation speaker at South Philadelphia High School for Girls, along with Anne Sullivan, and the valedictorian had the honor of doing the introductions.
Though Anderson had not yet reached major national or international fame, her singing had attracted enormous respect and reverence in Philadelphia.
My mother, Ann Guattari, was in the graduating class. An enthusiastic admirer of Anderson, she was spurred to work diligently to achieve the valedictory honor. A shy, modest girl, she must have appeared overly nervous while waiting offstage at the May ceremony, because Anderson gave her a hug and reassured her that she'd be "just wonderful."
Afterward, Anderson gave her another warm hug and sincere "Thank you, dear," which my mother always recalled as one of her fondest memories.
Some years ago in a phone conversation, Anderson's nephew James DePreist chuckled when I recounted that story. He explained that, wherever he travels, people tell him similar stories about his aunt. How many of us can say that we have positively touched so many? *