Hayre, who has one daughter and two grandchildren of her own, is "not the type of person to spend her money foolishly. She would give it for some useful purpose," Webster said.
Purpose is a theme that dominates the family and achievements of this well- known Philadelphia educator.
She is a member of one of the city's most distinguished black families. Her grandfather, for whom the Wright School was named, was born a slave in rural Georgia, studied at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and Oxford, became president of Georgia State College, an adviser to several U.S. presidents, and founder of the Citizens and Southern Bank in Philadelphia.
Her father, Richard R. Wright Jr., was the 10th black in the country to receive a Ph.D. He was also a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, an author and a college president.
Hayre is a graduate of West Philadelphia High School. By age 20, she had received a bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Penn. Later, she also earned a doctorate there.
Her teaching career took her to Arkansas, Ohio, Washington, and, in 1938, back to Philadelphia, where she married Talmadge B. Hayre, an associate professor at Cheyney State College. He died in 1977.
Also in 1938, she was hired at Sulzberger Junior High School. In 1946, she began teaching English at William Penn High School for Girls, where - 10 years later - she was named principal, the first black in the city's history to hold the top job at a senior high school.
In 1963, she became superintendent of District 4, the city's poorest, which includes most of North Philadelphia and parts of West Philadelphia. Since her retirement in 1976, a District 4 scholarship fund in her name has awarded grants totaling $700,000 to 706 high school graduates.
"She's done it all, and she wants to see others do it because she believes that education is the salvation of people," said Sylvia Beard of West Mount Airy, a retired curriculum specialist with the school district who has known Hayre for 50 years.
Her list of activities and honors is a long one. She has been active with the Girl Scouts, Fellowship House, the Coalition of 100 Black Women, various boards of directors and civic and charitable organizations. She has won many awards.
"She's been getting accolades all her life," said Beard, "but she can go right through something like this and still be Ruth Hayre."
She will still show up for meetings and card parties run by the Philadelphia Northeasterners, a social and charitable organization that has been part of her life for decades. There, she plays a competitive game of bridge and catches up with friends like Beard and Lela Jones, a retired teacher from Mount Airy whom she met 50 years ago.
She'll still show up at Webster's Germantown house at Thanksgiving, where she likes to tell of her latest trips - China, Alaska, Australia - and chat with Webster's daughters, Ursula, 25, and Tracy, 23. "She's part of the family," said Ursula, a trust officer at First Pennsylvania Bank.
It's just that now, Hayre's "family" - that legion of youngsters whose lives she has touched - has grown, overnight, by 119.