The many friends of former Waterford resident, educator and lively community spirit Marie Anderson were shocked by the news of her death in Philadelphia, at age 84, two days before Christmas, where she and her husband, Charles “Chuck” Anderson, had relocated about six years ago.
Although she had been in failing health for some time, Marie was stoic, rarely willing to talk about her health. A resolute Briton to the end, Marie was a byword in Waterford and Loudoun for her erudition, her intellectual bent, love for literature, particularly for poetry, and for classical music. She was a teacher, poet, playwright, storyteller, amateur actress, historian, avid gardener and accomplished cook. From the beginning, she and her husband were staunch proponents and supporters of the Waterford Concert Series, and for some years she wrote the lengthy and informative program notes for each concert.
A foremost educator for young children, she was an accredited Montessori teacher, trained in England, who was one of the first to bring that system of education to Loudoun. She and her husband came to Waterford from Arlington in May 1967. Located across the street from the post office, the “Pink House” soon became renowned as a center of hospitality in the village.
Marie set up her Montessori school, first in her own home, then in rented premises in Leesburg. Her final and permanent location was just northwest of Purcellville, where she and Chuck bought a small house in the late 1970s, that she named The Allder Children’s House. It was there that she began educating a number of children from around western Loudoun, aided by some of her friends whom she recruited as assistants. In addition to the standard Montessori teaching and equipment, Marie introduced the children to her world of culture, drawing out the children’s natural talents for storytelling, art, poetry and music.
Many of those children’s parents found the transition to grade school lacking in the cultural background she had provided, and pleaded with her to continue some after-school education for their children. The result was the Explorers Club, which she held in her own house in Waterford. Calligraphy, drama, poetry, music, conversation—in which the children were encouraged to explore new intellectual and emotional ideas—and field trips were the order of the day as were full-length plays.
The friendships she forged with many of those-then middle school children, now career men and women in their own right, existed until her death. Her capacity for friendship and her interest in other people and their development was one of her most striking characteristics. Whether you were a friend of longstanding or a more recent one, you felt she was—and would be—your friend for ever.
She and Chuck met in the late 1950s when he was stationed at the RAF-USAF base at Alconbury near Huntington in England. He saw the magic: “That was it,” he later said, charmed by her vivacity. It was love at first sight—and it never wavered.
An English friend of those days, Pat Platteuw, who had known her since they were both 15 at school near Peterborough, still remembered her vitality. “She was a crazy girl, that wrote and told such wonderful stories—I was jealous of her!” The two women remained fast friends until Marie’s death. “She was so important to me—she was always there for me.”
Marie was born in Ireland to a classical concert pianist, Charlotte Byrne. Her father, Richard (Dick) Howard, was an illusionist and a member of Magic Circle. Together, the two were billed as Collis and Dare. The family later moved to England, where Marie won a scholarship to Peterborough County School for girls, where she found a literary soul mate in her redoubtable headmistress, Mona Matthews.
The oldest of four children, Marie was born on Nov. 10, 1933, followed by her sister Joan (Weller) in 1935. Brother Richie Howard was born on March 4, 1938. Her younger sister, Regina (Scott) better known as Gina was born in 1940—but died at age 45.
Marie is survived by her husband Chuck, and her children Jane (Jack) Harper, Carla (Ed) Robinson and Davina (Buck) Greene.
A celebration of Marie’s life will be held on Jan. 14 at 1 p.m. at the Old School on Fairfax Street in Waterford. Friends and neighbors are invited to share the celebration. RSPV to Davina Greene at firstname.lastname@example.org.