Former West Hartford Mayor Anne P. “Nan” Streeter died May 22 at age 96.
By Ronni Newton
A former West Hartford mayor and former state senator known for her honest, straightforward, and caring demeanor, has passed away. Anne P. “Nan” Streeter died Monday, May 22, 2023, at the age of 96.
Streeter, who was elected to the Town Council in 1973 and was West Hartford’s mayor from 1975-1981, was the second woman and first – and only to date – Republican woman to serve in the position. She succeeded Catherine Reynolds, a Democrat who was West Hartford’s first female mayor and served from 1973-1975.
Streeter gave up her role as mayor when she ran for the state Senate, and won. She served as senator in the fifth District from 1981 until 1987, and was the last Republican to hold that seat.
“Nan was just a Connecticut classic – no nonsense, not a lot of small talk, very caring, but very focused on what needed to be done,” said Kevin Sullivan, a Democrat who served on the Town Council with Streeter and later also served as mayor – and also gave up that role when he successfully was elected to the fifth District state Senate seat in 1986 after Streeter decided at the last minute not to seek re-election to the legislature.
Although they were from different political parties, in an interview this week Sullivan recalled that he very much enjoyed working with and serving with Streeter. He said that she was a very good mayor and a very good state Senator.
Sullivan said there are a lot of people who just “like to talk, and talk, and talk,” but Streeter would get right down to business.
“Perhaps the most fun we had was when we were the designated ‘truth squad’ during Blue Back,” said Sullivan, referring to the lengthy and contentious debate about the development. One Democrat and one Republican – Sullivan and Streeter –had been chosen to speak on behalf of town leadership to counter the vocal opposition to the project by paid representatives of Westfarms Mall aggressively lobbying against the project .
In a 2009 interview for Living in West Hartford magazine [conducted by this writer] the 10 living mayors at that time were asked about their best memories from their time as mayor. Streeter shared the following:
“My best memory as mayor was the Bicentennial. We had an enormous Memorial Day parade led by Lowell Weicker (6-foot-7) and me (5-foot-3) down Main Street from Bishops Corner to Town Hall, with all our school bands, fife and drum corps, and civic groups represented. At the end we released about 50 doves from the reviewing stand. We had a Day of History tour where high school students were at all the historical spots and houses, explaining their background and significance. We had Patriot Diners. Finally, as chair of CRCOG, I invited all my fellow mayors and surrounding towns to attend our fireworks display. We gathered on the banks of Rockledge Country Club and there were about 50,000 of us waiting. It had rained the night before. Each firework rose about six feet, and fizzled. Even today, when I meet a fellow mayor, they remind me of that day.”
Streeter also said that being a mayor “was a great privilege.” A veteran member of the League of Women Voters – she was celebrated as a 50-year member in 2013 – she said the town was like an extended family.
“People who call you to complain want a sympathetic listener, to get things off their chest and have their hurt recognized, rather than an answer,” she said in the 2009 interview. Streeter, who was instrumental in founding West Hartford Community Interactive (then known as West Hartford Community TV) said public hearings are essential, the Sunshine Law is essential, and newspaper reporters “can make you or break you.”
She also said that Blue Back Square “has given the town a new sophistication,” and praised the town’s evolving culture, vitality, culture, convenience, great schools, and safe neighborhoods. “Our people and our town employees make West Hartford a special place,” she said in that 2009 interview. “There are literally thousands of people who give countless volunteer hours to various organizations in order to make West Hartford a wonderful place to live and to contribute to the well-being of the region.”
The First Church community was an important part of Streeter’s life, and she served in multiple roles in the congregation. Rev. Jane Willan has only been pastor at First Church since 2022, and while she didn’t have the opportunity to get know Streeter very well, Willan said Tuesday that she “was an amazing person and her legacy lives on at First Church.”
Courtland Lewis, a leader in the congregation, did know her well, and said even in her 90s Streeter continued to be engaged member of First Church. “While living at McAuley, she remained active … during the pandemic, she and I were ‘phone buddies’ and she used a digital converter on her phone for some hearing loss,” he said. “There would be a delay on the line and Nan would respond with enthusiasm and conviction. She was a ‘force of nature’ to the end. Even after an ankle fracture requiring extensive surgery in her 90s, she was up and about … and in church on Sundays.”
For many years Streeter was working on a book about her great grandfather, who was an astronomer and surveyor who worked on the Northwest Boundary Survey of 1857-61. Lewis said several years ago Streeter came to his home for Thanksgiving dinner and regaled the family with details that she planned to include in the book, which was based on his letters and a journal that she had in her possession. “I’m not sure if it ever made it to print, but we learned a lot that day,” Lewis said.
Joy Taylor, who handles communications for First Church, said of Streeter, “A funny memory for me was in probably mid-1990s when email was still very ‘new’ to everyone. Here was one of our oldest church members insisting that if you were going to be on a church committee with her, you need to have email. Or else she wouldn’t want you on her committee! She was so supportive of technology, and moving forward, and marketing the church.”
“It’s a big loss,” said Sullivan. “She was one of my favorite people in the politics world,” he said. “I wish there were more Nan Streeters in the Republican Party at all levels.”
Streeter grew up in Chestnut Hill, PA, and moved to West Hartford three different times early in her marriage before settling in town for good. She lived on Brookmoor Road for more than three decades and moved the The McAuley in 2019. Her husband, Ronald Streeter, died on March 10, 2004 at the age of 84. They had been married for 54 years and had five children.
An obituary has not yet been published and funeral arrangements are pending, but it is anticipated that a service will be held at First Church, with internment in the church’s Memorial Garden.
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Thank you for this wonderful story about my Mom and her love of West Hartford! You captured her spirit and personality perfectly and I am so grateful. You interviewed some great people in her life and I loved the anecdotes that you found. Thanks again for a wonderful tribute!
Thank you so much, Jean, and I am so very sorry for the loss of your mom. She was truly a wonderful woman.