Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Local Writer Looks at Ann Masters' Life

Ann Masters with long-time companion Tom Cain^

Roanoke Valley writer Tracy Garland profiled Ann Masters for a local publication recently. Following is an excerpt from that profile that Tracy gave permission to run here. It's a nice look at who Ann was and what was important to her. The whole story is here.

By Tracy Garland

Ann Masters says her passion for the environment began early in life. She often spent her summer vacations on her grandfather’s farm in Huddleston picking fruit, harvesting potatoes, and caring for horses. She remembers with fondness the quaint yet effective method of brushing her teeth with Sassafras twigs and how they could clean the whole house spotless with simple cleaners like baking soda and rubbing alcohol.

Through the many and varied lessons on the farm, Ann learned about living close to the earth. Today’s kids, she quips, “think farm animals are exotics.” Ann has two grown daughters and five (“bright and beautiful”) grandchildren (or “grands” as she calls them). She suggests that parents engage their children in nature by having them help tend a backyard “kitchen garden” or pitch in to harvest berries or fruit. Her experience has been that children will more readily eat vegetables that they have pulled from the ground with their own two hands. Masters has spent her life in the Roanoke Valley , where she has enjoyed what she terms a “checkered career.”

After teaching kindergarten class at Raleigh Court United Methodist Church for five years, Ann settled into what became a 16-year career at the Art Museum of Western Virginia(then known as the Roanoke Museum of Fine Arts.) Ann oversaw the design of the galleries and installation of the artwork collection when the museum was moved to the Center in the Square in 1983.

She coordinated various museum events, handled publicity and even assisted with disaster recovery after the flood of ’85 sent the Roanoke River winding through the museum's galleries.

Ann has served in her current capacity as Executive Director of the Clean Valley Council (CVC) since 1994. …

Masters is a Renaissance woman of community service. The many volunteer positions she has held include Executive Committee member of the Virginia Council of Litter Prevention and Recycling for over a decade, Festival in the Park Board of Directors for 12 years, and active membership with the Junior League for nearly 12 years. She says that every position she’s held has been a “different piece of fabric in the tapestry of my life.”

The common thread woven deeply in the cloth is a “passion for conservation and preservation.” Litter is one of Master’s biggest pet peeves (and don’t get her started about those wayward cigarette butts). She says, “I used to lean out of the car [at litterbugs] and yell ‘Hey - you dropped something!’” However, after a few unpleasant run-ins with some particularly hostile trash-mongers, she chose to abandon the confrontational approach.

One of her professional inspirations is local architect Tom Cain, [a close companion during the past few years]. Tom has devoted a great portion of his life studying and communicating about ways to make the Roanoke Valley a safer, cleaner and more sustainable place to live and work. She feels that his ideas are visionary and that the Valley would benefit from more civic leaders like Cain. Masters particularly enjoys her office in the fabulously rehabilitated Jefferson Center. “I walked these halls in my penny loafers” in its heyday as Jefferson High School and she has even been discovered by old classmates passing through to visit the building. The vista outside of her window consists of a beautiful centenarian tree and a long view of Tinker mountain.

“I have had a good life with marvelous family, friends and fun,” she concludes. And while her position as Executive Director of the Clean Valley Council is “the best job I’ve ever had,” Ann’s true goal in life is to work herself out of a job. “I would love to close the doors on the CVC, because that would mean that Roanoke is clean, pristine and healthy and that it’s going to stay that way.”

She reflects, “I hope my work has made a difference in the environment. I know the work has made a change in me.”

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing about Ann Master's delightful spirit and contributions. It is my loss to only learn about her after her passing. My condolences to all her family and friends. Like Ann, my pet peeve is litter. I've also yelled "you dropped something" and have also abandoned the confrontational approach because, 1) it's not safe, and 2) it didn't work -- they just got offended. They didn't seem to 'get' the anti-litter message. Now I give litterbugs a THANK YOU card for their 'donation' to the Museum of Litter. You can download free cards at