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Anne LaViolette – Social Studies Teacher WHS
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May 14, 2020
When a Sudanese boy who came to Winchester as a refugee two years ago needed to drum up money to buy 40 cows for a dowry to marry his sweetheart, Anna LaViolette volunteered to help. She partnered up with another member of the Parish of the Epiphany, Eunice Heitz, and launched a fundraising campaign at the Jenks Center to help collect the funds. In two weeks the women had $1,100, sufficient to pay for one cow.
“Anna was smart, charming, sweet, and a wonderful human being,” said Heitz, who also exercised with LaViolette three days a week. “She had a lot of life in her, she was a legend in town. Everybody loved her.”
A vibrant member of the Winchester community Anna LaViolette, 86, passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at the home of her daughter Susan LaViolette in Winchester, following a traffic accident that left her seriously injured almost three weeks ago. On Oct. 19, LaViolette was struck by a pickup truck when crossing Waterfield Road toward the Town Common while leaning on her walker.
LaViolette is survived by her four daughters Linda LaViolette, Janet LaViolette, Susan LaViolette, and Debra Ludwig, their families and six grandchildren.
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From New York to Winchester
Born in 1932, LaViolette grew up in New York City in a family of Italian immigrants from Naples. She married her high school sweetheart Albert LaViolette, who predeceased her. The couple had four daughters, two of whom now live in Winchester. A high school teacher of 26 years, LaViolette loved history and was passionate about human rights and activism. She also worked as special assistant to New York Congressman Tom Downey, according to the written statement by LaViolette’s daughter Linda. Downey represented central Long Island from 1975 to 1993.
“She was a feminist and believed in equality and humanity,” said Linda LaViolette.“She was an active member of her community throughout her life and no matter where she lived.”
Memorial Service Information
The family is thankful to all who reached out to us during this time of grieving. We have been comforted by the outpouring of love, support and prayers for Anna.
LaViolette’s last wishes were to help children and families, her daughter Linda said. The family suggests that instead of flowers a donation be made to:
Doctors Without Borders:
Doctors Without Borders helps children and families all over the world.
There will be a Memorial Service for Anna LaViolette on November 17, 2018 at 11am.
The Parish of the Epiphany
70 Church Street
And Winchester was not an exception. LaViolette moved to Winchester five years ago to live with one of her daughters Susan LaViolette. In just a few years, LaViolette became a vibrant presence in the town’s center and at various local happenings.
Nearly every day she spent at the Jenks Center, where she attended lectures on history, exercise and square dancing classes, and was member of the Film Committee. LaViolette sought out opportunities to stay intellectually stimulated and thrived in dynamic conversations with others. “She was bigger than life,” said Philip Beltz, director of the Council on Aging. “There was so much she embraced, she was never one to shirk from doing the right thing, and she really made her mark on the community,” he said. “She was extremely well-liked by everyone.”
At around 3 p.m. every day LaViolette typically left the Jenks and walked over to Starbucks where she met up with her friends for an afternoon of socializing and coffee.
Charlie Basile, a member of the Starbucks social group, noted LaViolette’s generosity: she gave him an iPad and a iPhone, along with 34,000 pictures from her international travels stored on the devices, he said. Gloria Tedesco, another member, admired LaViolette’s intelligence.
“She’s so knowledgeable about current events and extremely patriotic,” said Tedesco.
LaViolette took her volunteer initiatives with seriousness and even went beyond basic duties. Nearly every week, you could find LaViolette at the farmers market.
“She would talk to anyone and she could sell anything,” said Fred Yen, Winchester’s farmers market manager.
Once, Yen recalls, LaViolette struck up a conversation with a pair of passing goth-looking teenage girls to compare notes on hair coloring techniques between their purple and her shade of brown, Yen said.
“She always was curious: inquiring how things worked, discovering common ground with complete strangers, finding what people were passionate about, always making new friends,” Yen said. “We are really going to miss her. She’s leaving a huge hole in our community.”
Defying limits of age
In a way, LaViolette defied age stereotypes and expectations of what someone may or may not be capable of doing at age 86. An avid traveler, LaViolette went around the world five times, and was gearing up for her sixth world cruise. When told by the staff she shouldn’t risk climbing the Macchu Picchu ruins in Peru, LaViolette persisted anyway.
“It took her a little longer, but she did it,” said Linda, LaViolette’s daughter.
LaViolette often traveled alone, and made friends along the way. “She had an adventurous soul,” Linda said.
A lover of people and an talented photographer, LaViolette documented her encounters through photos. One of her albums was called “Handsome Men Around the World,” another one was dubbed “Laundry Lines, Women’s Work,” depicting clothing hung on laundry lines from different cultures.
“She showed that being old doesn’t mean you have to stay home in a chair,” Linda said. “You can still be relevant.”
She stayed politically and religiously engaged with state Rep. Michael Day’s Campaign, Winchester League of Women Voters, Winchester Multicultural Network and the Parish of the Epiphany. Most recently she attended the interfaith vigil at the ICE detention center in support of the immigrants and keeping families together.
A call for safer streets
LaViolette’s insatiable curiosity and independence are part of the legacy she’s leaving behind. It is from her mother that Linda and her sisters learned to stand on their two feet, Linda said.
“You have to be kind and honest as a woman,” Linda said. “You should be independent and be able to support yourself. That is the only way to have true equality.”
Linda hopes that her family’s tragedy will be a wake-up call for the town to take a close look at pedestrian crosswalks.
“We wouldn’t want that to happen to anyone else,” said Linda. “We can make this community as good as it can be and that includes having safe streets.”
Name of Classmate
Robert Shute – Class of 1962
Richard Schaeffler Class of 1966