History of the Roberts Foundation
Edward (Ned) Constant Roberts was born in Hartford on June 4, 1888. His father, Henry Roberts, served as Governor of the State of Connecticut from 1905-1907. After graduation from Hartford High School and Yale, Class of 1910, Ned pursued a career as an insurance agent and owned a travel agency, but his first love was music. He was an accomplished musician, and played cello in the Hartford Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hartford String Orchestra.
Ann (Sunny) Thorsen Roberts was born in Black Rock, Connecticut on January 25, 1896 to parents who had recently emigrated from Denmark. After graduating from Hartford High School, she studied at The Hartford Art School and worked as a secretary and bookkeeper at an advertising agency. She and Ned married in July 1939 and lived on Prospect Avenue in Hartford. They had no children.
Ned and Sunny shared a love of the arts that kept them involved in many organizations in the Hartford area. Ned served as a trustee of the Julius Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford and was a founder of Goodspeed Opera House. Sunny became a recognized amateur painter and was a member of the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts. Ned and Sunny shared a particular love for community theater. Their involvement in the Mark Twain Masquers during the 1940s and 50s included acting in productions, designing and painting sets, as well as serving on the organization’s board. Ned served four terms as board president and Sunny was its longtime treasurer.
In 1964, Ned and Sunny established the Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation as a private, special purpose foundation to pursue their support of the arts. Ned died at age 77 in March 1966 and for the next twenty-five years, until her death at age 95 in 1991, Sunny led the activities of the Foundation.
Since the Roberts’ passing, the Foundation has transformed from a family to a private foundation and has awarded nearly $8 million dollars to more than 150 area nonprofits.