COOPERSTOWN – Anne Geddes-Atwell, 77, best known locally as a Town of Otsego Board member, Town of Otsego supervisor and Rotary Club volunteer, died on July 12,2020, at the Cooperstown Center.
Born Margaret Anne Geddes on July 1, 1943, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Anne was the daughter of famed mountain climber Alvin B. Geddes and educational pioneer Olive (Oke) Geddes. She attended the Banff School of Fine Art and in 1964 received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alberta. She then moved to the United States for graduate studies, being awarded a Masters of Arts from the University of Iowa in 1967 and a Masters in Fine Arts from Cincinnati University in 1968.
Anne remained in academia for over a decade. Her teaching credits include classes at the University of Maryland, Mount Vernon College, Prince George’s Community College, Kirkland College and Anne Arundel Community College. Through the mid/late seventies, she was appointed Artist in Residence at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md.
Outside academia, Anne exhibited her paintings, drawings, silkscreens, ceramics and photography widely throughout the Annapolis/Baltimore/Washington D. C. area, including at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington
D.C., where she was instrumental in furthering the careers of women artists in all disciplines. Later, in both Annapolis and Fly Creek, Anne owned and operated ln Cahoots, a well-respected graphic design company.
It was in Annapolis that Anne, now an American citizen after a 1993 naturalization ceremony in Baltimore’s Camden Yards, first demonstrated her abilities as a community leader. She served as president of the
Crabtowne Ski Club and was instrumental in organizing the Eastport Yacht Club’s Holiday Lights Parade. An avid sailor, Anne enjoyed teaching people with disabilities how to sail through the National Ocean Access Project. As co-chair of the Annapolis Rotary Crab Fest, Anne once joined Willard Scott on the Today show to promote the popular event. Also in Annapolis, Anne spent many cold hours ringing the bell in a Salvation Army booth at the foot of Main Street.
On one winter day in the early ’90s Anne shared that assignment with a widower, and she and James Atwell felt at once very much at ease with one another. After they married on Sept. 14, 1997, Anne took the hyphenated last name by which most of us knew her. Anne and Jim took up residence in Fly Creek, sharing the country life in a 1794 farmhouse known as Mill Haven on a property called Stone Mill Acres. From the day she
arrived in Fly Creek, Anne endeared herself to her neighbors by hosting elaborate dinner parties, mostly with home-grown food, and by inviting others to share in the life of the farm through such activities as sausage and
Anne remained an active Rotarian for more than two decades, serving a term as the Cooperstown Rotary Club president and adding an artistic touch to the club’s many fundraisers. Anne, along with Jim, was recognized as a Harris Fellow by the Cooperstown Rotary. In addition, Anne was a Master Gardener and a proud member of the Red Hat Society.
Anne hand-drew the illustrations for Jim’s 2005 collection of columns, “From Fly Creek: Celebrating Life in Leatherstocking Country.” Depicting scenes both historical and contemporary, Anne’s illustrations serve as a testament in ink to her love of the land and to the people around her.
As Town of Otsego Board member from 2006 and Town of Otsego supervisor from 2011 to 2015, Anne worked tirelessly to protect that land for the benefit of its people, both in this and future generations. She successfully led a campaign against the use of burn barrels. She opposed fracking for natural gas with unyielding zeal. She protected our land from the disposal of gas-industry waste after seeing first hand the devastation that
fracking had wrought in northern Pennsylvania. She wrote letters and op-eds, participated in forums and traveled to Albany to oppose fracking.
Her activism, which sometimes courted controversy, broadened during and after the 2016 elections. She participated in the historic 20 17 Women’s March in Washington. She attended several local book groups that studied the most significant political issues of the day. In the 2018 election, she served as a local leader in Antonio Delgado’s successful 19th District Congressional campaign.
In her free time, Anne enjoyed nothing better than spending time with her animals. She and Jim raised generations of sheep and pigs on Stone Mill Acres. Zach, Blue, Cora and Cassie were that dogs that Anne owned and loved on the farm and in Cooperstown. In her final days, Anne spent some of her happiest moments with Cassie.
Anne is survived by Jim Atwell, her husband of over 22 years, by her sister Ruth and by other relatives throughout Canada, including many nieces and nephews who, as children, adored their “Auntie Anne.” To her family Anne gave the gift of years of genealogical research, the results of which she hand-delivered to her Alberta family in a memorable road trip during the summer of 201 7.
Anne intended that her body be donated to the Albany Medical Center for research purposes, but the current pandemic has blocked such donations. Accordingly, Tillapaugh Funeral Services has made arrangements for a
A portion of Anne’s ashes will be buried in her adopted USA, in the Fly Creek Valley Cemetery; and part in the Union Cemetery in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in a family plot close to the Rocky Mountains that Anne so loved.
In addition, a memorial retrospective exhibition of Anne’s art and life, which will be open to the public, is in the planning stages. Specific dates and location will be widely advertised in the local media and on social media.
Donations in Anne’s memory can be made to the Susquehanna SPCA, the Cooperstown Rotary Club or the American Cancer Society.