To all of us at VCE, Anne Aversa was a humble, quiet, fairly reserved and utterly genuine person. With her dear friend (and ours) Julie Nicholson, in whose name we established an annual citizen science award 11 years ago, Anne was a key contributor to VCE volunteer-driven projects like the Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas and Vermont Butterfly Survey. With her passing in the autumn of 2018, we’ve since learned much more about Anne’s remarkably diverse array of passions, interests and skills.
Foremost among these was her prodigious talent as an artist. Unbeknownst to anyone at VCE, Anne produced a rich trove of extraordinary art, most of it featuring wildlife in a variety of mediums, from pen-and-ink to watercolors, scratchboards to carvings, beautifully realistic to impressionistic, even fascinatingly abstract. Her stunning portrait of a Rough-legged Hawk now graces the VCE office, thanks to the generosity of her three brothers, Tom, Chuck, and Steve.
On June 30, a community celebration of Anne’s life was held at Barrett Hall in South Strafford, Anne’s beloved home town of nearly 20 years. An outpouring of family and friends paid tribute to Anne, and enjoyed viewing her art on display for a silent auction, the proceeds of which benefitted VCE, again thanks to her generous brothers. Following this gathering, a group convened at the entrance to the Strafford Town Forest, where we dedicated a sturdy, beautifully-crafted informational kiosk that was erected in Anne’s memory. The last two lines of a short summary of Anne’s life say it all: “Her many contributions to science and art, and especially to her community, will be greatly missed. This kiosk is dedicated to Anne’s memory as a reflection of her deep affection for the town of Strafford, and her passion for its natural treasures.”
As someone who never had the slightest interest in drawing attention to herself, we suspect Anne would be somewhat non-plussed at this recognition of her many talents and contributions, but there can be no doubt that she left an enduring mark on all who knew her, and even some who didn’t.