Anne Donnelly was the first of the many friends I’ve made at the Arboretum and perhaps the dearest. It was she who kidded me that, once I agreed to chair the Communications Committee, it would be a slippery slope to total commitment to Landis. The Arboretum was a cause she wholeheartedly believed in, and no one could fail to be persuaded by her unwavering support and leadership. You could say she changed the direction of my life – and enriched it many times over.
She was a brilliant teacher and a consummate naturalist, as anyone who took her classes at SUNY Cobleskill or participated in her popular “Dragonflies and Damselflies” workshop will attest. She and I used to trade book recommendations, and although she was wary about venturing into the realm of fiction (my turf), she loved the poetry of Mary Oliver. This past year, we read together from an anthology of daily selections from the works of Thoreau.
We had lunch earlier this summer. She brought me a selection of her “innovative” homemade jellies, including rhubarb-elderberry, and an eclectic bouquet of wildflowers and cilantro and walking onion from her garden.
As I grieve her passing, a quotation from the Thoreau anthology comes to mind: “When it is time to die, let us not discover that we never lived.”
Anne Donnelly — a loving, generous, and gracious human being — truly lived several times over in her lifetime. The value of her life is measured by the countless lives she touched and pointed – and prodded — in the direction of the endless joy that nature – and human nature – provide.
A Celebration of Life for Anne Donnelly will be held at the Arboretum’s Meeting House on Sunday, October 22, 12 — 4 PM.
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