Sunday, January 30, 2011

Anne Meredith Stevenson Ginestier 1947-2011

Anne died at home on January 30, surrounded by her immediate family and having received enormous support from friends and neighbours. This extraordinary woman had a gift of love. She gave abundantly, and has been repaid a thousand times over by so many who held her affection over the years.

Born in Tennessee, married to Jean-Paul from France, she lived in the U.S., France, Cameroon, England, Switzerland, Norway and Italy, as well as Canada. She leaves her husband, her two children Miriam and Eric, and her foundling Anne-Marie. Anne endeared herself to everyone in all the places she lived and worked: 4 years in Cameroon, 20 years at the Toronto French School, 9 years at the Nordic United World College, 5 years at the UWC of the Adriatic. Over those years, she effectively adopted hundreds of students, who embraced her as a surrogate mother.

She left us all too soon. An incredibly positive, cooperative and gentle patient, she was much admired by her doctors and nurses, and put up a strong fight against her peritoneal cancer, accepting suffering and many setbacks with grace and practically never a complaint. In the last months, she did know, and told us, that this malignant monster was taking over, not allowing her otherwise strong, healthy body to carry on living.

Death is indeed a major trauma for close family and friends to have to go through, but Anne died peacefully and fearlessly, imagining the place she was going to would be much like the place she was before she was conceived. . She said very recently: “Well you know, where I’m going, I don’t think it’s going to be very far... Not that I believe in all that ticky-tacky-wicky-wacky... stuff... But I just don’t think I’ll be very far.”


Jim Watts said...

My sincere condolences to you, Jean Paul. You have been in my heart and in my thoughts, and will continue to stay there.

Eric Parker said...

Condolences to all of you
and I believe her - she won't be far.
Eric and Terry

Anonymous said...

Hasta pronto Anne G. Descansa en paz.

Anne was indeed a surrogate mother for all those of us who had the pleasure of meeting her. As our house mentor at Nordic College back in 1998 she adopted us all and made our challenging UWC quest easier by making us feel at home and cared for. I have never forgotten how she took care of me as if I was her own child one night when I got so sick that my roommates had to call her.

Your everlasting smile and love shines upon us all who received your love. May our love also stay with you and your loved ones along this new journey Anne.

Pablo Ulloa. RCN UWC 97-99

Anonymous said...

I cant help my tears. She was one beautiful person. She will be missed deeply. Had alot to offer. I am so sorry and saddened with her passing. I hope you are in a better place and not suffering anymore. I love you, Asli Dolucan RCNUWC 96-98

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful woman those lucky enough of us had the opportunity to know. I learnt a lot about tolerance, grace, and respect from the time I spent in Anne's company while working at the Red Cross Nordic United World College. I will always particularly remember her compassion at the time of my younger brother's passing. My heartfelt condolences to Jean-Paul and family. Rest in Peace, Anne.

Lauren Catherine Foley, RCNUWC Volunteer, 2002-3

Anonymous said...

Descansa, y cuídanos Anne G.

Nothing on this earth stays forever
But none of your deeds were in vain
Deep in our hearts you will live again
You're gone to the home of the brave
Every solemn moment I will treasure inside
Even though it's hard to understand
That a silent wind can blow the candle out
Taking everything leaving the pain behind
love you Anne
René Michél UWCAD 04-06

Anonymous said...

a more loving,kind,witty,fun,mischievious,delightful,person i have never known,,the world is a lesser place with your abscence,my darling annie

Alex said...

Thank you so much Anne for everything you gave us. You were aware of how loved you were by so many of us and I'm sure that made you feel you accomplished an important mission in life. Descansa en paz!
Jean Paul, you and your children are in my thoughts!
Alex Guerra Noriega, RCNUWC 96-98

Jenny C. said...

I am so very sorry, Jean Paul. What a beautiful woman... My heart goes out to you and everyone in your family. My sincerest condolences...

Webbster said...

My heart goes out to all of you. And not the "ticky-tacky-wicky-wacky stuff". Love, Larry

Anonymous said...

Anne Ginestier was an uplifting force, and a significant role-model for me during my time spent at the UWC of the Adriatic. She always had a smile on her face when greeting me in the morning on her patio at the Palazzine Residence, but also had a watchful eye on me. Thus the 'surrogate mother' indeed.

She also planted the prettiest flowers on that plain concrete and tile residence patio, surrounding us with beauty.

She taught me funny phrases from the South, and insisted that the Americans get together every Thanksgiving and celebrate, giving me the honor of making a 'Thanksgiving Duck', since Turkey in Italy was somewhat rare.

My heart goes out to you Jean Paul, and to the rest of your family. Anne will be deeply missed, but never forgotten.

Gavino - UWC of the Adriatic 2008

Anonymous said...

My condolocence to you and your family gone too soon, but not far away. You are an incredible soul Anne and thank you for all you did for me! Your smile, your patience, your support and simply your presence. Love Sinzi.

Anonymous said...

I am terribly sorry for this saddening news and my eyes are filled with tears... It is always a tragic moment when a loved one goes away, but I believe we never leave and we always meet again... See you Anne... till then, you are kept in my prayers and thoughts xxxx much love, ritjana RCNUWC 96-98

Zumurrudah said...

My sincere condolences to you, Jean Paul.and ur family.............i am at work and i just read about this and i am in shock....may her beautiful soul rest in peace...
Zumurrudah rcnuwc 99-97

Fai said...

Words cannot describe how I feel when reading this blog and found out that Anne has left us.

But I do believe that everything about Anne, her unconditional love she has given us, has left an imprint on many of us and it will always remain this way. I was very lucky to have shared a part of my life in Norway and Canada with her.

My deepest sympathy and sincere condolence to the Ginestier family.

Fai RCNUWC 98-00

Anonymous said...

Anne est avec les anges où elle a toute sa place, car elle en était un sur cette terre... Merci à elle, merci à vous d'exister... Toutes nos pensées sont avec vous..
Marie- Paule et Bertrand Meunier

Angie said...

Thinking of you all with love and gratitude. Your wonderful blog has had a powerful impact, a fantastic example of love and generosity, honesty and courage in action. That's Anne. Thank you.
Love, Angie & Edmund

anon said...

Words cannot express the sadness that I feel at the passing of one of the most generous and fabulous people I have had the honour of meeting. I would love to give JP and your family a big hug. love alison rcnuwc and lille 97-99, new zealand

Anonymous said...

I figure if I write nothing about death here, than it is not real. I kept in touch with my family by phone, while trying not to disturb from Paris. Whenever I am about to do something silly, Anne immediately say:"Annne-Marrrieeeee!! Sweetie, be good to yourself". She talks to me every day, and even so I miss her so much. I will see you soon. AM

Anonymous said...

Anne was a very special person who touched all those around her with her kindness and good humour. She was the heart of the TFS for may years.
May your hearts mend and your memories stay strong. Je vous embrasse. Didi Trapman

torsken said...

Your memory is one of laughter and smiles during the dark winter months of Norway, a kinder and gentler soul can rarely be found.

My thoughts are with you J.P. and family, and I hope they may give you a small amount of strength in the coming days.

Thorir Björn RCNUWC 96-98

Anonymous said...

We will all miss you... Mi sincere condolences to the entire family...
Love, Sandur (RCNUWC 96-98).

Anonymous said...

Terrible moments... but so much love around from all of you!

The word "peaceful" was mentioned several times. Anne is now embracing the fullest of peace!

Thank you so much for this blog, the lovely words and photos to help overcome the disease while creating this community of Anne's fans, as someone had mentioned!

Big hugs to you Jean-Paul, to Eric and Myriam, so young to see their mother go.

Jean-Paul, we are waiting for you to come and visit in the months to come.

Big hugs for Jean-Marc and Isabelle

Anonymous said...

Dear JP and the rest of Anne's family whom I've never met,
I would like to add a few of my words to express my solidarity with you all, and wish you strength and acceptance to cope with the loss of one of the most beautiful persons I've been blessed to meet in my life. I can't put the mark Anne left on me in words, through her warm unconditional support that she always offered to anyone in need during that short and intense phase of our lives that the College has been. She will keep on living in my heart, a shiny star sparkling from within. If I close my eyes, and think of her intensely, I get the feeling that, when I open them, she could be there in front of me, reminding me that life is beautiful.

Sara Avanzino, UWCAD 05-07

Anonymous said...

Dear JP,
What a beautiful photograph and moving tribute. So many of us have reasons to be glad that we were privileged to know Anne, both personally and professionally. I too believe that she won't be going far. She is part of us. When I'm gardening I always hear her reassuringly saying, "Don't try to do the whole garden at once. Do one section at a time and you'll get there." When I'm doing yoggalates I always think of her joy at discovering the Louise Solomon dvd. Last Saturday at Zoncolan I thought of the many happy days we had shared, coaxing terrified beginners down the slopes and feeling the satisfaction and triumph when students exceeded their own expectations. And the list could go on.......This is an immensely sad day and the sense of loss is profound. I am thankful for all that I learned from Anne. My love to you, JP, and to Eric and all the family members I have not met.


Helen said...

Despite the wonderful blog and the beautiful photographs, Anne's leaving has still come as an immense shock. My feelings go out to you Mr G , Miriam and Eric - you're such a close and special family, with Anne at the heart of it. She's always been there and always will be, a part of you and a part of all of us.

"Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave bereft
I am not there. I have not left."
(Mary Elizabeth Frye, 1932)

Love you all very much, big cuddles and hugs Helen

Roland said...

I am sorry for your loss. Anne was truly a wonderful woman, a kind and generous person. You have my deepest sympathy.

- Roland

ola said...

Dear Jean-Paul, dear Anne, to your family and everyone you have touched...

You are oh so right Anne, you are very near indeed. In all our hearts, in the most visceral sense at this point of shock over your passing, but much longer than that, through the continued lives of us all.

My memories of you is of generosity, of a very big heart, a warm embrace whenever it was needed, a smile that carried a genuine caring kindness. You always held a sober perspective on things, but would in no way suppress any passion that you would freely express when you felt so inclined.

To the institutions that you have dedicated so much of your time and life to, it is without a doubt that you have been an invaluable gift. For so many young people you have given of yourself as a friend, substitute mother, confidante and soul mate I suppose, in its broadest meaning.

For me, I regard the spirit which you so strongly purveyed to be at the core of the idea of the UWC-spirit, perhaps the very heart and soul of it.

You have kept people together, through your efforts with the alumni network. You have told us that we need to take it over and carry it on. You leave an amazing legacy Anne, one that cannot be counted in numbers, yet so very strongly felt in the heart.

I am very sad that you are no longer among your loved ones. I send my sincere condolances to all those who are near you, for their loss. I will be thinking about you a lot Anne, and I hope to carry some of your strength, joie du vivre, generosity, love, genuineness, spirit, and kindness with me throughout my life. And I hope to pass that onto others, the same way that I feel that you have given to me.

With very much love to you Anne, and to those who love you!

/Ola Nilsson
(RCN UWC 95-97)

Veljko said...

A candle is lit in Zagreb for Anne's beautiful and unforgettable soul to go free and blessed to her peace.
My love and respect goes out to JP and the family.

Veljko, RCNUWC 98-00

Anita said...

The world has lost a rare treasure. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.
Love Anita

Anonymous said...

Condolences and gratitude from Marija and Marko Linta, Zagreb.

JB said...

I was just showed the blog by my 3rd yr. What has happened cannot not be undone but the memories never die and we cherish those we love in our hearts. While Anne's passing is very sad and tragic, I am comforted by the fact that she passed on with love having received and given tonnes of it. JP and family please cherish and spread the love that Anne left as a her legacy so that she will continue living in this earth through your actions. Bless

Anonymous said...

The last time i chatted with Anne a couple of months ago, she was as happy as she has always been. During that conversation she mentioned to me that she was very happy with her life and that she was proud of what role she had played in this world. I still think of that conversation every day and i try to lead a fulfilling life where i care about others as much as possible while being happy and selfless. thanks for that lesson Anne. Anne is going to always be close to us- not far away.

Much love to everyone.

David Sengeh (rcn 04-06)

Anonymous said...

My sincere condolences to you Jean-Paul and your family. All of us who had privilege to know Anne will remember her as a special, loving person who indeed left a beautiful mark in this world.
Jelena Vojnic (RCNUWC)

Gugga said...

Dear Anne

You will be missed! You have been one of the persons in my life that have been easiest to love; always smiling, always helpful and always caring about everyone around you.

I have so many fond memories of you an JP during my time in Flekke (and from the gatherings in the years afterwards). From this blog I can see that you fought cancer the same way you lived your live, smiling and strong, only goes to show what a wonderful person you are. And yes, you will not go far, 'cause you live in all of us you have touched along your way.

My sincere condolences to JP and family and all of those who loved you.

Gugga RCNUWC 1995-1997

Kjetil said...

Dear JP. I'm so sorry for your loss! Thinking of you and your family, and remembering your and our beautiful and kind Anne. Kjetil

lori said...

Jean-Paul, Eric and Miriam:
We were with Mike when he found out about Anne and we wish to convey how sorry we are for your loss. I too believe she is not very far, and she also lives on in her two great children. Peace to you all during this time.
Love, Tim, Lori and Oscar Webber

Tenny Manook said...

I got sick one ski trip to Parry Sound but had the good fortune of having Mme. Ginestier take care of me until the trip was over. Usually I'd have felt scared with such a fever and so far from home, but Mme. had this kind, calm sweetness to her that made me feel so comfortable. I remember how she came to check in on me and the way she explained everything to my mother when we got off the bus at home- it was evident I was in very caring hands.

I'd see her every day at school, but felt particularly trusting of her after this experience, feeling that connection kids feel when someone has looked out/after them. I think she sensed that and always made an effort to validate it, even if with a knowing smile.

I always remembered this through my years at TFS, and thought Mme. Ginestier to the most wonderful of souls. I was lucky to have her touch my life, and realise now just how rare such people are in the world.

Your example will never be forgotten, Mme. Thank you for teaching it to so many of us, with such kindness and that ever radiant smile.

My most heartfelt condolences to the Ginestier family. Sending you all much love.

Jenny and Janis said...

Our heartfelt condolences to you, JP & family. We are so fortunate to have known Anne albeit a short time for she was indeed a gentle woman with a caring soul. Will miss her infectious smile! Our thoughts and prayers go with you.

Thank you for sharing with us the story of her journey. This has been a source of inspiration and a reminder to all of us on how it means to live a full and meaningful life.

Big hugs,
Jenny & Janis

Anonymous said...

I did not know Anne very well but loved every minute of her company when we hung out together on UWC counselor tours in various places. She was so warm, funny, wise, and just lovely in every way. I have admired her courage through this cancer battle and just want to send your family my love and thoughts as you get used to Anne being 'nearby' in a different way. Love from Mallika Ramdas at UWCSEA in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Dear JP and the rest of the family,

I don't think I have seen Ann more that a handful of times in the last 30 years but I feel a great sadness at hearing that Ann has left us. Ann was always my favourite at school and it did not take much to get me down to her office for a nice chat and friendly smile. I could never quite figure out why my math teacher had such a beautiful and charming wife.

JP please accept my condolences and best wishes. Ann could never have been all that she was without such a great person sharing her life.

Much love from Amsterdam,

John "Traps" Trapman

Hoa said...

I'm thinking of you and your family, JP. Sending you a warm hug from Minneapolis!
Hoa (RCN 96-98)

Lars said...

Beautiful and dearest Anne,

I have no words to thank you for all your love, warmth and care. I have no words even to start to describe how wonderful I believe you are and how much you have meant for me since the 11th of september of 1995. I love you, and I guess that is the best way to try and describe all the above. You have always been a role model and I thank life for the gift I got when I met you and you and JP let me be a part of your lifes. Fare well beautiful Anne and please give Thando a huge hug from me. Oh, and you are right, you will never be too far away, because you will always be in every heart you deeply touch, like mine. I love you Anne, forever.

Sigbjørn said...

Thanks for all the great times and fond memories, they will all live on.

Always there with a smile, and full of life, Anne was always someone I would look forward to seeing, and I treasure the time I've had a chance to spend with her.

She will always be remembered.

Sigbjørn, RCN 95-97

Anonymous said...

My sincere condolences to you, JP, and to your family. I found this blog only today and was deeply moved by the story that Anne has told.

I met Anne only once and that was when the two of you generously hosted Grzesiek and me at your place last summer. But this one meeting with Anne was enough to fall in love with her and her kind spirit. The days when our ways have crossed are a very special memory to me.

I am wishing you lots of support, warmth, and love for the time to come.

Much love from Vienna,

padovani said...

De part de Padovani ,ce commentaire s’adresse en particulier à mon collègue et néanmoins ami Jean Paul.
Nicole vient de m’apprendre une bien triste nouvelle ,Anne Meredith nous a quitté .le témoignage de Nicole relatant sa récente visite chez vous m’a bouleversé aussi je te joins un extrait de cette lettre (voir ci_dessous)
Je vois que sur les photos Anne Meredith(j’adore ce prénom typiquement américain),a gardé son sourire éclatant et ses yeux expriment toujours sa générosité du cœur pour aller vers les autres.C’est ainsi que je me souviens d’elle.

Anne Ginestier est morte le 30 janvier, le jour de mon anniversaire. Nous étions allés à St Gély passer quelques jours avec Lisbeth. Dix jours après notre retour du Canada. En effet, les nouvelles étaient si mauvaises que nous avons pensé que si nous n'allions pas la voir très vite, nous ne la reverrions certainement plus jamais. Nous y avons passé une semaine. Elle était en soins palliatifs à la maison et quand nous sommes entrés dans le salon,j'ai eu du mal à réaliser que la personne assise à côté de Jean Paul, c'était elle. Terrible. Cette maladie peut être la pire des saloperies. Dans son cas, lorsqu'on l'a découverte, il n'y avait plus rien à faire pratiquement. Peut-être lui faire "gagner" six mois. Et malgré ça, son regard était toujours le même et elle mourait avec une élégance et une grâce incroyables. Elle était même capable de rire et de s'intéresser aux autres. Cette fille est exceptionnelle. Il régnait dans la maison un mélange d'énorme chagrin et de joie car elle avait sa famille qui l'entourait et qu'elle en était toujours le pilier. Enfin, je suis incapable de t'expliquer ce que j'ai ressenti mais c'est une semaine qui m'a enrichie et, j'aimerais le croire, rendue plus humble et meilleure.
Si tu veux avoir des nouvelles en direct, elle avait créé un blog pour ses amis et sa famille. Va le voir. Quand elle en avait la force, c'est elle qui l'écrivait, sinon c'était J.Paul ou les enfants.
Il n’y a rien à ajouter.
Quand à moi , je vis ma retraite à Paris ,si tu passes par là( you are wellcome) je peux te loger j’ai une chambre d’amis
Grace à facebook le fils d’un de nos anciens élèves de Buea m’a contacté ,il s’appelle Tousse Manfo Padovani !!! Son père ,notre ancien élève lui a donné comme prénom ,mon nom de famille
Tout en te souhaitant bon courage, je t’embrasse

Karin Beier said...

Cher Jean-Paul,
c`estz par hasard que j`ai lu que tu as perdu ta chère femme Anne.
Je ne sais pas si tu te rappelle la petite Karin,fille au-pair chez tes parents à Willerby.Toi et Anne,vous nous avez visités une fois à Bensberg.
Je me rappelle très souvent à mon stage chez vous en Angleterre.
Je suis désolée en apprenant qu`Anne a souffert de cette maudite maladie - comme mon père et ma meilleure amie......
Je t`embrasse très fort et si tu as le temps de m`écrire un petit mot,cela me fera un grand plaisir.
mon adresse électronique:
Karin (Beier),née Schmidt

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