Larry Bernholz, Oneida, NY

This is not a specific story so much as just happy reminiscences about Anne (and Dave, too). My wife, Connie, and I visited them a number of times at Blue Mtn. Lake.
Our visits became progressively more enjoyable as we got to know each other better.(Anne and Connie, though cousins, had lived some distance apart for many years.)
Anne was always so hospitable, so friendly, and so attentive to us that it was always a pleasure to be in her company. She was tolerant and understanding of others' opinions and their faults and foibles. She had a sense of fun about her that made you glad to be in her company . She bore her scleroderma with quiet dignity.
She truly was a special person. I will miss her.

Michael Milan, Atlanta, GA

I have known and considered Anne and Dave to be dear friends for nearly 40 years. At the time of this writing it has been four month since Anne’s death, and I still find it difficult to accept her loss and put into words my thoughts of a world without her, given her many contributions. Our friendship began here in Atlanta and then ranged from the northeast to the southwest corners of the country as we regularly shared three or four week-long visits over the following years. Anne was central to our ability to sustain our long-distance friendship. Her warm greetings, her generous hospitality, her joyful companionship, and, yes, her embrace of the eccentricities and peculiarities of others (mine included) made it clear that she treasured such friendships. But that was just Anne being Anne, and only a few of the reasons she was such a special person to all who knew her.

As we all know, Anne delighted in the works of that fellow William Shakespeare. I did not share her admiration of his writings and evaded opportunities to attend performances of his plays. Blame a faulty high school and university education? My last visit with Anne and Dave was at Blue Mountain Lake a few short months before her death. Anne was in the process of producing and directing the performances of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” that she had abbreviated/rewritten to meet time constraints. And both Anne and Dave were also members of the cast. So, not a performance that could be evaded. But I was shocked! Shocked! I actually enjoyed the play, and then I enjoyed it a second time. Anne’s artistic abilities as a writer, producer, director and performer were clear. My Shakespeare resistance had lessened, so much so in fact that when Dave visited here in Atlanta after Anne’s death I joined him to see the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse’s performance of “Twelfth Night” and enjoyed it greatly as well. No more evasions of such opportunities.

Anne’s artistic abilities were not limited to the theatrical domain. Indeed, I think dramatics were a very strong second suite to the fine arts. Anne most certainly excelled as a fine arts artist of exceptional creativity and skill. Although she practiced her art across several media, I admire most her abstract, expressionist paintings. I am fortunate to have three of Anne’s paintings, one very large and two of a somewhat smaller size. I cannot evaluate the formal qualities of her works. Again, a faulty high school and university education? But I can appreciate the feelings they engender as I look at them, the longer the more so. I spent a bit of time in contemplation looking at one before I moved on to write this paragraph. As I look at her paintings, a smile comes to my face. I become more aware of my breathing. I feel myself relaxing and I find I have an increased sense of well-being. The painting somehow becomes more real (alive?) as I am drawn into it. And now the pleasure of looking at Anne’s paintings includes tinges of nostalgia for a past with her that is not be experienced again. I hope that nostalgia never passes.

My remembrances are only hints of the many ways Anne has influenced and benefited others. By all accounts, she was an outstanding teacher who passed on to her students the skills of her profession and, perhaps most importantly, the humane, humanistic values she held and practiced throughout her life. One hopes and expects that her students will do the same. Anne leaves behind artistic creations that will be appreciated and enjoyed over time by many more people than those who knew her personally. A legacy to be envied. And those who did know Anne personally are so much better, as am I, for having known someone so in love with life, with her friends, with her partner and, yes, with her dogs. Dave’s writings and those of others on this website make it clear that this love was, and is, reciprocated. Thank you, Anne, for being such a remarkable woman.

From Connie Bernholz, Utica, NY

I believe that it was the summer of 1956 or 1957, I am not quite sure which, that I remember first excitedly looking forward to a visit by my cousin and her family. My grandmother and my mom, were hurrying to get things ready. I know that I thought that someone important must be coming. Later that day, as they did every following, Anne and her parents would roll into my grandmother's driveway with their boat in tow. You see Anne's dad would not think of starting his vacation without stopping at his mother's house for the weekend. While there he attempted to aid his mother in any way he could, doing electrical work, odd jobs and fixing things. This gave Anne and I lots of time to play together. We were both only children and having her there for a weekend was a special treat. She was a couple of years older than I was and she always brought a big box of toys that she had outgrown. It was a treasure chest to me, although it was a cardboard box. It was filled with things from one inch dolls to games and books. We played with them together for hours on end. Their visits became one of the occasions I most looked forward to each summer. The visits always began or ended with at fish dinner at my grandma's favorite restaurant at the lake. They then went on to Blue Moutain Lake. My eyes still water when I remember those two young girls playing on my grandmother's porch and feeling that they had a kindred spirit, who made them feel less alone.

From Mary Ann Genet, Louisville, KY

I first met Anne, through my sister, Pat Penn, already a good friend of Anne and Dave while visiting my sister in Atlanta. Anne and Dave graciously invited my husband, Ray, and myself to join my sister, and her significant other, Michael Milan, for a trip to Sedona, Arizona. Anne and Dave own a home in Sedona, as well as Blue Mountain Lake in upstate New York. The meeting point for our trip to Arizona was to be at the Grand Canyon, specifically the El Tovar Lodge for lunch. We were running late on our drive from Las Vegas (into which we had flown), and were trying to make good time to the lodge for lunch. Being the type A personality that I am, I was sweating the arrival time especially, knowing that our arrival was close to the end of lunch service. Anne and Dave were already there waiting, seated at the table for six. As memory serves, we were almost one hour late. Finally, after a mad dash through the parking lot, into the lodge, we made a beeline for the dining room, where we found our hosts. Anne was serenely sipping her hot tea, and graciously greeted us without any flap or complaint. I remember her being relaxed, poised and ready to catch up. It was as if we were just running a few minutes late, compared to an hour.
After a fun visit in Sedona, I mentioned to Anne and Dave, that they should join us in our hometown of Louisville, Kentucky for a visit. I suggested that Anne would really enjoy visiting during the St. James Art Show, which is very well known as a wonderful art show, staged in scenic Old Louisville. So, they came to visit, along with my sister and Michael, and we all enjoyed the art show. I remember that although Anne was super knowledgeable about various art forms, she always sought out other’s opinions rather than being overbearing or pedantic about the various media we saw during the art show. She was graceful in her knowledge, and did not have to impress others with what she knew. She was “ quietly competent”, a term my sister first coined to describe my husband’s multi-faceted mechanical knowledge and aptitude. This description definitely applied to Anne Vaccaro.
After Anne and Dave departed Louisville, we wound up having one more visit with them in Blue Mountain Lake, New York, where they own a home. We all went kayaking one beautiful afternoon, and as I watched Anne gracefully paddling, it struck me that wherever she was, Anne was totally happy in the moment. She lived her life fully immersed in the moment with the people around her, with no complaints or regrets. She was not looking for happiness; instead she was living it.

From Rob Rovenolt, fellow student in the MFA program at Tyler School of Art, Temple U. (1969-1971)

Here are some reflections about Anne on my year at Tyler School of Art’s Rome campus. On the second entry, 9/28/69, I wrote, “Just got back from the bar where I was making small talk with a few girls who are graduate students in Rome.” That was the first night on the Raffaello sailing from NYC. On 10/29, I say “Anne and I are becoming very chummy.” So those were the very first notes about your remarkable Anne.

She was a dear friend and mentor in Rome and the following year in Philly, a talented painter with a flair for the dramatic who amused me. One time she even poisoned me by serving buttered toast at her apartment. The butter had set on the windowsill in the sun and become rancid, so I got food poisoning! When my best high school chum Sam came to visit during Christmas break, we got drunk with Anne, bought a tree in Piazza Navona, and lugged it back to Anne’s palatial apartment, staggering all the way.

On one adventure when Anne and I took a freighter from Brindisi to Greece and then flew to Crete, Anne was the only woman on the ship, and she played it to the hilt! Wearing tight bell bottoms and equally tight sweater, she parted waves through the Greek merchant sailors, posing and teasing, knowing full well I was the one who had to protect her on this overnight trek. I convinced her that we should lock ourselves in our cabin, and we spent much of the night reading aloud “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” in full dramatic fashion. (Note from Dave: R&G are Dead was Anne’s favorite play.)

When the year in Rome was over, we hitchhiked to Florence and then parted ways, Anne to head back to the states, and I to travel for another 6 weeks. One final memory was going to dinner at her parents’ home in Ambler during our year back at Tyler/Philly. Anne had improvised a studio in the basement, so after dinner we went down to view her recent painting. For dramatic effect, she dropped a record on the player: As she unveiled her gigantic canvas, Debussy’s “La Mer” surged and pulsed from the speakers. Only Anne could pull that off.

My thoughts are with you this holiday season and I hope 2018 is kind to you.

Complementary notes from Dave Myers:

Regarding spoiled food: The rancid butter anecdote reminds me of something on Anne’s and my first date. In June 1977, I drove up from Macon, GA, where I was living, to Atlanta to take Anne to an Emerson, Lake, and Palmer concert at The Omni. When I arrived, I asked Anne if she had eaten; I had not had an evening meal. She said she had snacked, and invited me to look in her refrigerator for a covered sauce pan that had some homemade caponata. I located the pan in the back of the fridge. When I removed the lid, the moldy contents were about a week’s growth shy of actually lifting the lid off the pan. It was at least a decade before I would try her homemade caponata, and it was good when fresh.

Regarding the vixen in Anne: Later in the summer of 1977, I would accompany Anne to my first art show opening. I said I didn’t really know what to wear, and I asked her what she was wearing. She responded while batting her eyelashes, “I don’t know, but it will be something slinky,” a real boost for my self-confidence early in our relationship, not.

From Dennis Wilson, Chestertown, NY

A couple of years ago, Anne directed a production of "Dracula" for my community theatre group, Our Town Theatre Group, in North Creek, NY. I auditioned for the show and was rewarded with the title role. Anne liked my interpretation of the character and was very supportive during rehearsals and performances. I learned that her leg was hurting during this period, so much so that walking was difficult, and she had to direct often from a sitting position. Despite the pain, she directed the show quite well and it was a big hit locally.
Her dedication to her art was inspirational to the entire cast. Godspeed, Anne. You continue to inspire and to be loved.

 Dennis Wilson as Count Dracula puts a scare into director Anne Vaccaro

Dennis Wilson as Count Dracula puts a scare into director Anne Vaccaro

From Barbara Westbrook, Indian Lake, NY

I first met Anne at Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek, NY; Our Town Theater Group (OTTG) was rehearsing for its production of "Post Mortem." We were both involved in this endeavor. I found a true friend . She became an important influence on my love of theater...always encouraging me that I could indeed do what I love. I also met Dave at this time. Spent many happy times at Blue Mt. Lake with the 2 of them and our other dear friend Robin Jay. Anne directed me in "The Importance of Being Earnest" staged reading by the OTTG at Tannery Pond ...encouraged me to audition for the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts Shakespeare in the Park production of "The Merry Wives of Windsor"...and was co acting with me in Gem Radio Theater's production of "Horrors You Can Hear "....when she passed at the hospital. We were shocked and saddened by the sudden loss of our lively Anne. I am so sorry I did not get to tell you goodbye. I think you know I loved you as much as any friend could. And I miss you terribly. It gives me comfort we shared the same faith, so I know I will see you again. Don't stay away from Blue, Dave...we will remember her together. 
Much much love ....Barb. your Miss Prism

 Cast picture from The Importance of Being Earnest, June, 2016, Tannery Pond Community Center, North Creek, NY. L to R: Barbara Westbrook as Miss Prism, Anne Vaccaro as Miss Cecily Cardew, Robin Jay as Lady Bracknell, Hannah Jay as Honorable Gwendolyn Fairfax, Karen Munoz as technical supporter extraordinaire; Mike Corey as butler's assistanc, Dennis Wilson as Reverend/Doctor Frederick Chasuble, Dan Studnicky as Algernon Moncrief, Dave Myers as Lane, Andy Studdiford as Merriman, Ben Hinckley as Jack Worthing. 

Cast picture from The Importance of Being Earnest, June, 2016, Tannery Pond Community Center, North Creek, NY. L to R: Barbara Westbrook as Miss Prism, Anne Vaccaro as Miss Cecily Cardew, Robin Jay as Lady Bracknell, Hannah Jay as Honorable Gwendolyn Fairfax, Karen Munoz as technical supporter extraordinaire; Mike Corey as butler's assistanc, Dennis Wilson as Reverend/Doctor Frederick Chasuble, Dan Studnicky as Algernon Moncrief, Dave Myers as Lane, Andy Studdiford as Merriman, Ben Hinckley as Jack Worthing. 

From Robin Jay, North Creek, NY

I knew Anne through theater in the Adirondack Mts of NY. I did costumes with her for several productions, and was fortunate to act with her as well. Anne's vision and attention to detail in costumes was unmatched by anyone I've ever worked with. When Anne directed Dracula with Our Town Theatre Group OTTG) she had a particular vision of Dracula's clothing - he had to wear a Hessian type uniform of a certain shade of purple. It took me weeks to get the coat the correct color and length, but it felt so good to finally get there and she was so appreciative! It was amazing to watch Anne take pieces of this and that clothing, put them together, add a belt and perhaps some shoulder pads and come up with the perfect costume; she was such an inspiration to me! The year after Dracula Anne directed a staged reading of The Importance of Being Earnest for OTTG. She took that script and some raw talent, including myself, and turned it into a very successful staged play with full costumes and set. As a director Anne believed that everyone had talent, and she patiently and kindly guided us to do our best. The end result of whatever project she was working on was an exceptionally good production, often with an added piece at the beginning to set up the story. Last summer, in July 2017, Anne directed her last play for the Art Center in Blue Mt. Lake. It was a production of Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor and again Anne took a group of mostly amateur actors and created a wonderful performance in the spirit of Shakespeare that toured throughout the Adirondack Park for 8 performances. I remember at one moment backstage Anne and Dave just looked at each other and had a smooch and laughed because they were having so much fun together and loved our little show. I feel so honored to have known Anne and having had the chance to act with and learn from her. When she passed away I felt that a bright light had gone and I wish we had more time to work together. I think of Anne and David often; they had a special love that was obvious to everyone around. Anne saw talent in everyone...I will always remember that about her. Rest in Peace Dear Anne, I will remember you with love.

Dracula, Our Town Theater Group, Tannery Pond Community Center, October 2014. Pictures above, L to R: Anne and Jayson Grigsby/Professor von Helsing; Count Dracula/Dennis Wilson frightens the director; Count Dracula befriends the director; cast photo. Second row: Anne and Dracula performer Molly Smith, who was in the play's prequel. 

From Aunt Anne

I’ve thought long and hard about my “Anne” story. Cannot think of a special story, but all my memories through the years are memorable and priceless, no matter if she and Dave were visiting me, or I was visiting them. She was so very very thoughtful. They brought me Christmas decorations, and they were there for me so many times over the years. We went to the Toledo Art Museum, and I drove to Piqua twice to experience how she beautifully directed Shakespeare’s plays. Anne loved my little dog, but that is another story. I never knew her to be mean spirited, only kind and sweet. Thank you, Dave for the opportunity to get to know and love Anne.

 Two cuties, April 2015

Two cuties, April 2015

 Anne with Logan, April 2015

Anne with Logan, April 2015

From Pat Penn

Thinking of Anne as her birthday approaches and remembering how generously she celebrated others' special events. I especially remember a birthday cake she made for me many years ago: it was easily the most stunning cake I've ever seen. Knowing how I love gardening, she built, from icing, a lily growing tall out of a pot, various garden implements such as a trowel and watering can, and made a border of flowers circling the cake. It was so beautiful and such a loving gift of her time and skills. If only I could thank her again for all her loving kindnesses.

 

 Anne Vaccaro baked this cake for one of Pat's birthdays circa 1991. 

Anne Vaccaro baked this cake for one of Pat's birthdays circa 1991.