The Aquinnah Town Hall was really rocking Sunday, as well over a hundred people came out to celebrate a milestone event. Beloved icon Anne Vanderhoop Madison turned 80 — at least according to the calendar. Looking ageless and elegant as always, Anne was truly touched by the turnout of family and friends that came from near and far to celebrate her colorful, eventful, and remarkable life.
Comedian Lenny Clarke of Chilmark, who is currently working on a film in Bogota, Colombia, actually flew in just for the event. Now that’s star power! But we are not talking about a typical birthday celebration for just anyone. There’s nothing typical about Anne — mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, “second mom,” and, of course, friend to so many. They all came to honor her life because of the difference she has made in theirs.
When asked actually how many grandchildren Anne has she’ll answer with a twinkle in her eye, “Don’t really know, never counted. But I do have eight great-grandchildren!” She then adds, “Everybody that came to that party is part of my family. I probably have stories about all of them that are tucked away in my heart and soul.” But she then continues with a chuckle, “And that’s where some of those stories are going to stay.”
Oh, but the stories that were told at the party — about Anne, her family, and her remarkable life! Stories about all of those years running the Aquinnah Shop with her beloved Luther, or living in that wild west territory once known as Gay Head. Or of raising all of those kids. And their kids. And their friends and friend’s kids.
The stories and toasts could have gone on for days — stories about Anne’s spirit, generosity, love, and zest for life.
Anne is often asked what keeps her so young. “What with having all of those kids, and looking out for all of the young people I have employed throughout the years it definitely has kept me on my toes,” she said. “But it all was so much fun and we certainly laughed a lot. Overall it has been a very good life.”
Never one to mince words, she added, “Oh and what a wonderful party this is, but thank you for not having a surprise one. I’ve had enough surprises in my lifetime, thank you.”
It was a great celebration of a life well-lived — full of so much goodwill, love, laughter, and of course incredible food.
Lisa Vanderhoop is married to Buddy Vanderhoop, son of Anne Vanderhoop Madison.