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Memorials: San Francisco Monthly Meeting

Anne Trueblood Brodzky Williams

Date of birth

Aug. 4, 1932

Date of death

Sept. 19, 2018


San Francisco Monthly Meeting

Memorial minute

Anne Trueblood was born, in the City of Roseburg, in the Umpqua River Valley, in southern Oregon on August 4, 1932. Her father, Paul Trueblood, was born in Macksburg, Iowa, and her mother, Helen Churchill, in Roseburg. Her father was a professor of English, a Byron scholar, and conscientious objector during World War II. Helen Churchill was a wonderful homemaker in the best sense of that word, the still centre of the family. Anne’s earliest religious memories are of the bass baritone voice of her beloved grandfather singing the hymns and songs of his Quaker childhood in Indiana of the 1870s.

When she was about 19 years old Anne in effect ran away from where the family was then living in Seattle, Washington, to San Francisco, California, where she married Arthur Brodzky, son of Horace. I like to think of her in the San Francisco of the mid-1950s, dressed in simple black, listening to Billie Holiday at the Flamingo Club, browsing the shelves of City Lights Bookstore, or dancing at one of her friend’s pot-luck rent parties on Haight Street, where she lived when I was born in 1955. It was in the San Francisco of those years that Anne’s life-long engagement with the arts began to blossom.

In about 1958 Anne separated from her first husband and returned to Oregon, thereafter raising her son on her own while pursuing her academic career, finishing her BA at Willamette University in Salem, and then completing a Masters with Honors in Literature and Art History.

In August 1965 Anne moved to London, Ontario, to accept a post as Curator of Education at the London Regional Art Gallery, which was at that time situated on the second floor of the Public Library on Queens Avenue in London. An especially vivid memory for me from that time was traveling around southwestern Ontario visiting indigenous and folk artists while Anne was collecting pieces for exhibition in a Centennial year show at the Art Gallery called Cultural Heritage of the Region.

In 1967 Anne moved to Toronto to become the Editor of artscanada magazine, producing more than 60 issues of what was Canada’s premier arts publication before the magazine ceased publication in 1982.

In December 1982 Anne married Anthony Williams of London, England, at the Friends Meeting House in Manhattan in New York City. A birthright Quaker, Anne’s abiding faith always informed her spiritual and social engagement with the world.

In 1983 Anne returned to San Francisco, and with her husband found a home in Inverness, in Marin County. Anne and Tony established the Society for Arts Publications of the Americas, opened the Meridian Art Gallery in San Francisco, and set up a youth program dedicated to providing at risk teens with after-school employment in an arts-centred environment. Meridian Gallery, which showcased innovative music, lectures and performance, as well as the visual arts, became a vital part of the Bay Area art scene until escalating rents in the area forced its closure in 2015. The Meridian Gallery archives will be housed at Stanford University.

Anne was admitted into membership in San Francisco Monthly Meeting by convincement, on October 13, 1991. Anne served the Meeting over many years and in many forms, starting even before her membership. She acted as our Liaison to John Woolman School from 1987 to 1992. She served on Property & Finance Committee 1987-88, 2002, and 2005. She worked with Community & Hospitality Committee 1989-90, 1993, 2008, and 2014-15. She also served on Ministry & Oversight Committee in 1994, 1997-2001, 2006-2008, and 2014-2017. Anne died on September 19, 2018 at the age of 86.

In July 2016 Anne returned to Canada with her husband to live in Port Bruce, Ontario, and was welcomed by her friends there, and by the Friends of the Sparta Meeting. In her final years she continued in her indomitable way to bring people together and make things happen; those of us around her at the time will recall her frequent utterances – resist and persist – and that occasion when she sent out an invitation to her birthday at her home bearing the imperative Sing!

Anne died at the St. Thomas Elgin Hospital on September 19, 2018, survived by her husband Tony, her son Michael, her granddaughters Erika and Miranda, her daughter-in-law Anne Rose, and her sister Susan. For her love of the world, and her intensely accomplished life, she is remembered today at this extraordinary meeting for worship at the Friends House in Sparta.

Of the many tributes to Anne received from far and near in the past month, these words from one of her artist friends in San Francisco (Ruth Eckland) are typical:

.... I always thought of Anne as somehow indestructible, regal in her bearing, her vast intelligence, her vision, and her determination to implement that vision. .... She had an immeasurable, positive impact on so many lives through her curation and programs, her personal mentorship and friendship, her encyclopedic knowledge of art and literature which she so enjoyed sharing. Her legacy in all these areas and more will live on and reverberate. .... Her unique vibrancy will continue to fill our hearts.