“Somewhere beyond the sink-hole, past the magnolia, under the live oaks, a boy and a yearling ran side by side, and were gone forever.” – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
Anne Jerome passed into the next world on 25 May 2020, the only remaining trace of her was a heady mix of Chanel No. 5, Carlton cigarettes, and a few amber beads. She leaves her only child, her daughter, Alexandra, whose company she enjoyed depending on the phase of the moon. She was predeceased by her husband of 40 years, Richard “Dick” Jerome, her half-brother, Roscoe “Duddy” Staley, and a lifetime of felines (Nicodemus; Splinter I; Splinter II; Knothead; Puss; Boots; Rumpleteaser; Asparagus; Mouse; Wilbraham; and Bertie Wooster); and a dachshund, Schultzy.
Anne, born Velma Anne Burkosky in Portland, Maine on November 19, 1943, hated her first name and was known to all and sundry as: "Chicka," “Anne,” “Vel,” “Velamint,” “Big Edie,” or, as Coach Ed Field anointed her, “Annie Pie.” She bore no resemblance to the Scooby Doo character except perhaps with one stellar bouffant from the 60s recorded for eternity in her high school yearbook. She started school in a one-room schoolhouse, skipping a grade, and eventually graduating Valedictorian of her high school class. She went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude with a degree in English from Nasson College in 1966. Despite majoring in English, Anne also excelled in German, gaining fluency from her professor, a translator at the Nuremberg Trials, and playing the violin. After graduating from Nasson, she decided to defer her admission to the Indiana University and the University of Pennsylvania to teach at Bridgton Academy. It was there, through her roommate, that she met her future husband, Dick, and in 1968, they were married at the Cathedral Church of Saint John in Portland, Maine. After their marriage, Dick and Anne moved to Manchester-by-the-Sea where Anne was installed as the formidable, “Mrs. Jerome,” the latest in a legacy of larger-than-life, brilliant, and gifted English teachers with a low threshold for foolishness at Manchester Jr.-Sr. High School. Her cackle and the distinctive sound of her heels on linoleum still echo. She was, in her beautiful skirts, silk blouses, and marvelous statement jewelry, always a formidable presence in her sense of style and fun.
During her 30-year career at Manchester Jr.-Sr. High School, Anne served in a variety of capacities outside of the classroom, including Costume Designer for several of Dr. John Stuart’s productions (“Night Must Fall;” “The Glass Menagerie;” “Classic Cut-Ups,” etc). She was a founding member of the exclusive, “Leper Room,” a vacant storage closet/office that came to be occupied by either Athletics or the DECA Store when smoking indoors became illegal, where a generation of professional staff and avid smokers could gather at the conclusion of the work day. Anne was always open to sharing her pedagogy with fellow faculty, offering-up such gems to Mrs Rose Bottger’s Western Civilization class as, “Western Civilization is a misnomer,” written in her perfect Palmer Method script. While at Manchester Jr.-Sr. High School, she earned her Master’s in Teaching from Salem State, completing her Master’s Thesis on the etymology of some of her favorite profanities for which she was, naturally, awarded an A. While not undermining the already precarious stability of Western Civilization, Anne was in the classroom teaching three decades of Manchester children the intricacies of the English language, Greek Mythology, Shakespeare, Chaucer, and of course, "The Yearling." Anne was a voracious reader, reading everything biographies of Thomas Cranmer and Clementine Churchill to the complete works of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. She kept an abridged edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in her classroom (a mere 10 volumes as opposed to 10,000), allowing her students to look-up useful words for medieval correspondence such as “fuff.” A generation of 7th graders added to the Jerome family lexicon.
A world traveler, Anne used to describe the model of the Taj Mahal in the library of her hometown in Bridgton, Maine. In 1995, while co-leader of Girl Scout Troop 226, she was sent to Sangam, India as part of the Girl Scouts of the USA’s “Wider Opportunities” program, where she became a much-loved member of the international scouting community, rode an elephant, and, most importantly, sat on what is now known as, “Diana’s Bench,” at the Taj Mahal. After her death, many friends contacted her daughter Alexandra, relieved that they could finally reveal that Anne, in addition to be a globetrotter in this century, was also prone to disappearing into other realms, a theory confirmed by Anne’s aversion to Tintagel on the Cornish Coast. Anne loved Daphne Du Maurier, the Bronte Sisters, and Chaucer, but she did not care for Merlin and had some reservations about Beowulf. She never went without wearing a piece of amber and frequently wore a Hand of Fatima pendant, long before it became more trend than meaning. No doubt she recognized the power of both amulets from her travels.
Anne was also a devout Episcopalian, completing the Education for Ministry course through the University of the South at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Beverly Farms. She loved the mystics and especially Julian of Norwich. She never missed an opportunity to wear a hat or celebrate a holiday, ecclesiastical or not. Coffee Hour for her could have been a political fundraiser: if she did not know you, she undoubtedly taught some member of your extended family. She chaired the Rummage Sale annually, her rigorous standards making that particular element of the annual fair a huge success.
Outside of imparting the joys of syntax and Shakespeare, Anne was also a gifted knitter and quilter. If you received one of her creations, you understood that you received something priceless. One Christmas, when her daughter was about 28, Anne knitted her a medieval hat which had the happy consequence of looking very much like Dorrie the Little Witch’s cap, a series that Anne used to love to share with Alexandra. Nearly all of Alexandra’s school photos feature a dress handmade by Anne with the extraordinary details that came naturally to her keen eye. If you could envision it, Anne could quilt it, knit it, or sew it. She spent hours in her sewing room, playing with color and creating. Her late husband, Dick, once exclaimed: “I’m a quilt widow!” Even with her Multiple Sclerosis, Anne continued to sew, knit, and create.
Her threshold for the fake and the foolish was non-existent, her face did all the talking, and she never had the patience for dull people. She surrounded herself with brilliant minds from students to colleagues and cultivated creativity and confidence in the students who were able to appreciate her gifts. In another life, she undoubtedly hosted a salon with paupers, saints, and kings. She was gracious, stylish, and a marvelous hostess. She baked the best fudge (for the recipe, look no further than a jar of FLUFF) and the best blueberry muffins from the blueberry bushes that grew outside the dining room window of 100 Pine Street. She shared flowers from her garden in abundance: lilacs, peonies, and Black-eyed Susan’s. She refused to grade papers with a red pen because she found them to be too pedestrian for anything except a Christmas card. She was wild, vivid, brilliant, loving, and loyal.
The final years of Anne’s life were consumed by the degenerative process of Alzheimer’s Disease and metastatic breast cancer. A long and harrowing journey, but true to form, Anne eventually settled into the century of her choice (the 11th, if anyone is curious, likely invigorated by the Norman Conquest) and continued living in a world that we could not be part of. She leaves behind her daughter, Alexandra (and Alexandra’s husband, John, who will require a weekly Ouija Board session to even begin to know his mother-in-law), and a grandson, Henry, born in December 2021 and named in honor of Anne’s father, Henry Burkosky. She also leaves behind her beloved friends to join those already passed. Finally, she leaves an assortment of former students with whom she maintained a correspondence, her usual query being: “What are you up to, you fool?” All of these companions carry various diminutives assigned by Anne and an index of memorable quips. (She will always be the Class of 1978’s adviser, even from another realm.)
Released from this particular era, no doubt we shall see her again as she rests before making another appearance someday, somewhere. To quote the poet Conrad Aiken’s epitaph, "Cosmos Mariner- Destination Unknown." If you have memories of Anne that you would like to share with her daughter Alexandra, please email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to her at: Dr. Alexandra Brandon, 17 Tremont Street, Maynard, MA 01754. She would love to hear from you and share your memories with John and Henry.
A service of remembrance and burial will be held on Saturday, October 1, 2022 at Saint John’s, Beverly Farms at 11 a.m.