In Memory… Anne Calhoun Fifield

Nashua, NH – Anne Calhoun Fifield, age 88, died peacefully, with family by her side on December 23, 2009.

Born on Feb. 14, 1921 in Augusta, GA, to Celeste Morris Calhoun and Francis Augustus Calhoun.

Anne grew up in Augusta with a deep love of horses, art and her friends and family. She attended Hollins College, The Gertrude Herbert Art School and Studied at the University of Georgia Art School. She was a member of the riding club at Hollins. In her late teens, she won third prize at the Augusta Artists Exhibition for her portrait of “Evon.”

Anne pursued her passion for riding and art throughout her life, becoming an accomplished equestrian, painter and sculptor. During WWII she worked at the Pan American base in Miami with her cousin, Liz Hitchcock, assigning flight instructions to new pilots as they headed out each day to train for the war.

After the war, while teaching riding with Alice Minnick at a girl’s summer camp in Maine, she met her future husband, Charles Woodbury “Woodie” Fifield. After marrying in 1949 they moved to Lansing, Michigan and started a family as Woodie pursued his doctoral degree. Student housing was very plain, old, army barracks, and Anne, always with a desire to create a rich, beautiful and interesting life around her, planted vegetable g a rdens and flower gardens all around that little white house. Her sunflowers grew eight feet tall. Her gardens, like her paintings, were full of layers of rich, bold colors.

She continued to paint, mostly very emotional portraits, and did some advertising work and graphic design. Woodie’s thesis, although seen by few, was illustrated by Anne with exquisitely detailed laboratory procedures.

In 1960 they bought a large, old farm in Mason, NH, where Anne raised Thoroughbred horses and German Shepherds, of which there were many. Several times, knowing Woodie might object to yet another horse, Anne wood bring a new horse home while he was at work, and put it in the field with the others. Sometimes it would be days before he noticed and by then, the deal was done.

In between horse shows and teaching her three children to ride, Anne would head out into the woods to clear trails and build jumps with an axe in one hand and brush clippers in the other, controlling her favorite horse, “Red,” with just her knees and voice. She had a deep love and respect for all animals and all of nature. She passed that on to her children and anyone who wanted to learn.

Anne was very active in town events especially those involving artistic contributions. She taught art at the Mason Elementary School and made costumes and stage sets for school plays and adult theatre groups. She made two figures in the crèche at the Mason Congregational Church , judged snow sculpture contests, and with other leaders, took the Girl Scouts camping. She lived simply and very connected to the earth and passed that on by her actions.

In her art classes, she almost never bought new materials but instead would save used materials that could be recycled into an art project. One time her classes made big, beautiful castles out of c e real and oatmeal boxes, paper towel and wrapping paper tubes, scrap cardboard and colored paper and painted them bright colors. Never underestimating children’s creative abilities, Anne decided to have the grade-schoolers do a block printing class. She had the students cut pieces of old rubber inner-tube with their little paper scissors and glue the pieces onto small wood blocks (scrap wood from the new hay barn!) in patterns and to form pictures, then roll ink onto the blocks and print on paper. It worked and the kids were very excited to see what they had made. Friends from those classes still share their fond memories.

In 1997 Anne survived a severe stroke which paralyzed her right side and took her voice, but not her ability to express herself! Even without speech, she made herself understood. She began a new and wonderful life at the Courville at Nashua nursing home. It’s a small, not corporate, nursing home with some of the warmest, most caring and dedicated staff that you could imagine. They became a large new family.

All her life, one of her best traits was to make the best of what she had and to find something interesting in the people and things around her.  Her mind stayed sharp and her emotions stayed rich. She loved the staff because they were fun and as young as she felt. Several residents who had a similar attitude became wonderful friends of hers.  They would trade magazines and give her chocolates.   She always had a big handshake and a hug and a kiss for anyone who helped her or stopped by to visit. She inspired by her strength and gratitude. She loved to watched horse shows and races, nature shows and news on television and had an extensive library of art and nature books in her room. Gorillas, in addition to most other wildlife, became a passion for her. She was a member of The Gorilla Foundation since the ’70s.

While at Courville, Anne loved going outside and looking at the flowers growing all around the building. There is a park a few blocks away with a duck pond and willow trees around the edge. We would sit silently, sometimes for almost an hour, her wheelchair on the edge of the water, and she would watch the ducks swim, and listen to the wind in the trees and the children playing. She would be smiling.

A few years ago when Mason celebrated Uncle Sam’s birthday, Anne helped to judge artwork submitted by students in the Mason school for a contest to depict what Uncle Sam meant to them. Long-time friend Peg Schuster brought stacks of paintings to Anne’s room at the nursing home where, one by one, Anne reviewed them and chose her favorites.

Anne is survived by her brother, Francis Augustus “Mike” Calhoun of Blountstown, FL; her sons, Charles Calhoun Fifield of Newark, DE; and Craig Woodbury Fifield of Stow, MA; grandsons Brian Charles Fifield, Colin Joseph Fifield, Devin Edwin Fifield of Landenberg, PA; nieces Gloriana Maguire Calhoun, Jayne Knott Fifield and nephew Douglas Tyler Fifield. She is predeceased by her husband Dr. Charles Woodbury Fifield III, 2004; daughter Reaney Holmes Fifield, 2003; Brother Capt. Patrick Calhoun and nephew Patrick Given Calhoun.

Anne always recounted wonderful stories of her friends and relatives. Roots were important.  Memories were sustaining. At her request there will be no service but there will be a small gathering of family in Mason and Augusta in the spring to spread her ashes. Remembrances may be made in her name to The Gorilla Foundation, PO Box 620530, Woodside, CA 94062 or online at www.koko. org. Friends and family of Anne, who wish to share memories or stories, may contact her son, Craig Fifield at 54 Kirkland Drive, Stow, MA 01775 or call (617) 869-2994.

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