Stokes—Ann Richardson Stokes, 85, on November 20, 2016, at home in West Chesterfield, N.H. Ann was born on June 9, 1931, in Moorestown, N.J., to Lydia Babbott and S. Emlen Stokes. A lifelong Quaker, she grew up in Moorestown Meeting and graduated from Moorestown Friends School. She attended Goddard College, and in 1959 built a home on Welcome Hill in West Chesterfield. There, beginning in 1976, she and some of her women friends designed and built the first studio for women artists: Welcome Hill Studios. She told the story of its creation in her book A Studio of One’s Own (1985). She had great affection and loyalty to Moorestown Friends School and later served as a trustee of Goddard.
Many friends remember listening to a performance by Odetta at Ann’s fiftieth birthday party. She was inspired by the natural beauty of her surroundings in New Hampshire and Vermont and by the Adirondack retreat where she had gone with her family since childhood. Acquiring nearby land, she preserved it for public use; a hiking trail through the land is named for her.
She was arrested and briefly imprisoned with other Quakers in connection with a protest at the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant in New Hampshire in 1977. Also in the 1970s, she transferred her membership to Putney (Vt.) Meeting, supporting the meeting generously as it built its meetinghouse and helping to add more space and benches years later as it grew. Her profound interest in the spiritual life of others encouraged the meeting to share spiritual journeys as part of adult First-day school. She also was instrumental in starting an early meeting for worship that thrives to this day. Ann lived and spoke her values plainly. She was a major influence on Putney Friends in the discernment of approval of same-sex marriages under the care of the meeting.
Active in many political, environmental, and social movements, she served as a mentor to young activists. Her letters to newspapers, always handwritten, were pointed and often poetic in their impact, these and her other writing demonstrating a clarity of vision and expression. Proclaiming her lesbian identity with power, joy, pride, and grace, she was a generous and outspoken supporter of feminist and LGBTQ causes and a hit in the 2006 production of Gay and Grey at Sandglass Theater in Putney, featuring the reminiscences of older gay men and lesbians. She saw the Creator in creation, both our own creations and those in the natural world that she was surrounded by in her mountaintop home.
Ann was predeceased by her brother, Samuel E. Stokes; and sisters, Sally Venerable and Lydia Willits. She is survived by two nephews and two nieces. Donations in her memory may be made to Welcome Hill Studios, Box 84, West Chesterfield, NH 03466.
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