Anne H. Tonachel, 86, Village native, educator

Anne Tonachel.

Anne Hale (Codding) Tonachel, a native West Villager who co-founded the West Village Nursery School, died suddenly at her Bethune St. home on Fri., Jan. 5. She was 86.

Born in Sayre, PA, on Feb. 14, 1931, to Captain E. Hale and Ruth Baldwin Codding, her childhood was spent moving back and forth between Bethune St., a family farm in Towanda, PA, and the home of her grandmother in Waverly, N.Y.

Anne attended numerous schools in all three places but none for more than two years in a row. She attended P.S. 3 and P.S. 41, and then City and Country School in the early 1940s for seventh and eighth grades.

She was greatly influenced by the model of progressive education that City and Country exemplified. She also made a number of friends there with whom she remained connected for the rest of her life.

She graduated from Friends Seminary in 1948, and went on to get a B.A. from Cornell University in 1952, and an M.A. from Columbia University in 1955, prior to beginning her lengthy teaching career. In 1957, she and her then-husband, Pierre A. Tonachel, purchased the house on Bethune St. where she raised her two daughters and lived until her death. Her parents had purchased the same house in 1929 and sold it in 1952 when they moved back to Pennsylvania. Ultimately, four generations of Anne’s family have resided in the house.

Anne was a dedicated educator and taught high school social studies for 25 years in the New York City public school system, the majority at the High School of Music and Art and the High School of Performing Arts (now the combined Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts).

After retiring from public education, she taught for several years at the Browning School and then as a volunteer at The Door (an education and support center for adolescents). She also tutored immigrants working to learn English. Up until the time of her death, she volunteered at P.S. 3.

Anne’s tenure in the West Village was unusually long. Along with co-founding the West Village Nursery School, she was involved with Jane Jacobs’s campaign to keep major highways out of the city and preserve historic buildings, along with numerous other community-improvement projects throughout her life. She was an active member of the Village Independent Democrats and a regular shopper at the Abingdon Square Farmers Market, a park she frequented all her life.

Anne was a lover of the outdoors and took great pride in her city flower garden. She was a strong advocate for exposing children to nature and did a lot of hiking, canoeing and camping, particularly in Bear Mountain Park, the Catskills and the Adirondacks.

She had an innate curiosity about other people and would talk to anyone. As a result, she had friends of all ages throughout her life. She had the opportunity to travel extensively, including two trips to China, an African safari and numerous trips to Europe and Latin America, as well as within the U.S. She had strong interests in history and anthropology, as well as education.

Anne treasured her monthly book group, which has met for more than 20 years. Despite macular degeneration that made it harder and harder for her to read, she continued to keep up and turned to audio books in later years in order to do so.

In addition to a large number of cherished friends, Anne is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Anne Eliza Tonachel and Robert Warhover, on Bethune St.; her daughter Ruth Baldwin Tonachel in Towanda, PA; four grandchildren, Maggie Belokur, Emma Warhover, Anna Belokur and Miles Warhover, and a great-grandson, Elias Ray Heyer.  She is survived by her only sibling and his wife, Elias Hale and Rose Codding, of Houston, Texas, a couple of cousins and many nieces and nephews. In addition, she is survived by her former City and Country classmate and companion of 20 years, Pierre Epstein.

A memorial celebration of Anne’s life will be held after the spring flowers bloom. Her ashes will be buried in the Codding family plot in Towanda, PA.

Donations in memory of Anne H. Tonachel may be directed to: Planned Parenthood (PPFA) at P.O. Box 97166, Washington, D.C. 20077 or via www.plannedparenthood.org under Memorial Gifts; or to the New York Public Library, 445 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10016 or via www.nypl.org/give (Honor and Memorial Gifts).

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