Louise Este Bruce ’36: An Innovative School of Global Fame

Over the past 120 years, Calvert School has had the privilege of educating genera­tions of families, yet few families can trace their Calvert legacy as early as the School’s inception.
Louise Este Bruce’s connection to Calvert School was established long before her birth in 1924. Her paternal grandmother, Louise Este Fisher Bruce (Mrs. William Cabell Bruce), and her maternal grandfather, R. Brent Keyser, served together on Calvert’s very first Board of Trustees in 1897. Several years later, Louise’s mother and father, Ellen McHenry Keyser and James Cabell Bruce, met in their kindergarten class at Calvert. Ellen and James were married in 1919 and had two daughters, Ellen and Louise.
Louise reflected on her connection to Calvert School in the preface to her grandmother’s memoirs, Footprints on the Sands of Time: The Memoirs of Mrs. William Cabell Bruce. In her own words, Louise described Calvert School as “an innovative school of global fame because of its advanced educational system.”[1] She “loved hearing letters read by the teacher from children taking the Home Study Program in distant parts of the world.” Judge William C. Coleman, who served on Calvert’s Advisory Board of Trustees, drove Louise and his daughters, Sue and Betty, to school each morning. Louise fondly recalled their carpool, noting “It never mattered if we were late as the Judge was a favorite with all the teachers.”
Louise’s time at Calvert was cut short when her family moved to Washington, D.C. following the Great Depression. Louise went on to attend another school, where she found her fifth-grade “curriculum was quite repetitious of what [she] had just completed at Calvert School in fourth grade.”
While her years at Calvert were limited, the foundation Louise received at Calvert endured throughout her life. Louise wrote about “the famous Calvert School, founded by a brilliant man, Mr. Virgil Hillyer,” and kindly in­cluded Calvert in her estate plans, joining our esteemed Hillyer Society.[2]
Louise passed away peacefully in New York City on June 26, 2013, but her connection to Calvert lives on through her generous bequest. Each year, the Louise Este Bruce Foundation supports Calvert School with one of the school’s largest unrestricted annual fund gifts. With this support, Calvert can expand our programs year after year and continue to be the “innovative school of global fame” that Louise cherished so much. 

The Hillyer Society was created to recognize the generosity of donors, like Louise Este Bruce ’36, who have included Calvert School in their estate plans. We invite you to become a part of the legacy established by Virgil M. Hillyer, Calvert’s first Head Master, over 100 years ago. For more information on planned giving to Calvert School, please contact Sarah Walton, Director of Development.

[1] Footprints on the Sands of Time: The Memoirs of Mrs. William Cabell Bruce (Gateway Press, 2009), pg. xxv
[2] Footprints, pg. xxii
Calvert School is a coed independent lower and middle school.