Annie Wilhelm-Ellis, 1951-2022
Annie Wilhelm-Ellis was born in Camden, New York, in 1951. Her father was 67 and her mom 43. Raised on the banks of beautiful Fish Creek in a house without running water, she had a wonderful childhood, playing in the surrounding woods and helping her dad, who was retired, cut lawns in town. Their house burnt down when she was 14, a tragedy she never forgot, and the family separated to live with her two sisters. She's maintained her love for her nieces and nephews, and for Camden, ever since.
After graduating from Camden High School she moved to Rome and then Syracuse, working as a waitress, phone operator, and eventually a school bus driver. She adored the kids, and vice-versa. She was an independent, beautiful young woman - beautiful inside and out - who loved to dance, canoe, and party. She hitchhiked to the Mardi Gras. She made many lifelong friendships.
She married Jim, a lucky man, in 1982, and they raised two boys who she fiercely loved, Emmett and Gavin. Gavin was born when she was 47, and how proud she was at that.
With Jim and her boys she moved to Auburn in 1998, working at the Gavras Center as a classroom aide for preschoolers with special needs. An extraordinary self-taught calligrapher and artist, she specialized in doing art in the classroom, winning statewide recognition for her creativity and ability to involve the kids. In Auburn too she made a wide circle of friends. She loved the community, the Sisters in Spirit women's art collective, the annual Olive Trees picnic, the Auburn Public Theater. She enjoyed finding treasures for friends at the local thrift stores. She was a wonderful cook - she called cooking with family dancing in the kitchen. She found peace in gardening, creating a sublime daffodil universe in the backyard, and continued to canoe her sacred Fish Creek until almost the end of her life.
Her intuitive kindness toward others, especially others who needed a friend, was an example and a source of inspiration for many, many people. She could not stand hatred, arrogance, or hypocrisy. She maintained a radiant, breathtaking beauty to the end of her life, combating cancer with courage and dignity, making new friends in those waiting rooms every single trip to Upstate. Her favorite line of poetry was from Gabriela Mistral: "I am as rich with purple as with sorrow." She will be missed more than can be expressed in words.
A celebration of Annie's life will be held in her backyard in the spring.
Leave condolences at mathewsonforani.com
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