ANNE HERBST PASSED AWAY ON SUNDAY, MAY 27, 2007 at her home in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. She was 84 years old. Present were immediate family members: husband Fred, sons Richard and Philip, her daughter-in-law Judith, Sandra and granddaughters Hannah and Suzanne.

Her family came to America in the 1920s but in the custom of the time, her father preceded  the family, her mother sister and brother, by several years in order to establish a home. She was born in Brooklyn and was referred to as “our American child.” Family members and friends knew her as “Annie.” 

imagePU7.JPGThe family, father Benjamin, mother Eva, sister Sunnie and brother Jack came to Rockaway in the late 1920s moving to a house on 78th street a block from the ocean. She attended PS 39 and graduated from Far Rockaway High School in 1939. Her ambition was to become a ballerina but although she was accepted by the Brooklyn Academy of Music, family finances kept her from dancing. A year later, however, she started attending Pratt Institute where her artistic talents bloomed. She has been an active working artist ever since.

She married Rockaway resident, Fred Herbst in 1942. His Naval Reserve unit was
activated that same year and she traveled with him to Texas and California until image2L9.JPG
his discharge in 1945 when they moved back to Rockaway to settle down.

imageFDB.JPGAnne and Fred moved to Far Rockaway in 1947, then to Bayswater in 1951. They had three sons: Richard b. 1944, Philip b. 1951 and Andrew b. 1953. Andrew died in Florida in 2004. 

She began designing fine art furniture while living on Long Island. She and husband Fred would travel out to the Rockaways while the summer bungalows were being demolished and retrieve items of interest like wooden medicine cabinets, brass doorknobs, and mirrors. She learned refinishing and combined that with her considerable painting and sculpture ability and began to turn out boutique pieces that quickly sold through art galleries and decorators.

imageB8F.JPGWhen they moved to Miami in 1969 they opened a furniture studio, Anne Herbst Designs, and began designing and building custom pieces in earnest. Anne acquired a considerable reputation in the art world in Florida with award-winning fine art pieces that were truly one of a kind sculpture. Anne and Fred kept this business until they retired in 1990.

It's easier to write a eulogy than an obituary. For one thing, you can say what you feel and not just string together a collection of factoids for a newspaper. Neither one can do justice to a life but if you can remind family and friends of why someone was so special to them and offer a few thoughts that will bring that special person to mind, you can rest for a while.

Everyone who knew Annie knew that being with her even for a short time meant getting to take a walk through her garden, smell the flowers that grew there, and listen to the birds in the trees. It was always a place you wanted to return to. She touched everyone this way with a gentleness and an open heart that beckoned you from wherever you happened to be. You were always welcome in her world and her garden. Part of her knew and understood you and made a place for you at the table.

Her wit and humor came from a heart of gold. She didn't particularly care for George Bush and Dick Cheney and she drew volumes of biting satire of the lives of the corrupt Romans as they appeared to her special sense of social justice.

Personally, she despised grudges and anger and had no patience with people who cultivate these wastes of what precious little time we have in this world. She reminded me that as a child even though members of her family argued, moments later they relished the laughter fundamental to love.
Love was her secret weapon, and it sprang from deep inside her and couldn't be extinguished by stupidity or recklessness or hurricanes. She could laugh at anyone yet she had something good to say about practically anyone—excepting George Bush and Dick Cheney.

She loved ballet and opera, and agonized over how her failing eyesight and hearing distanced her from a world of art, music and literature. Without trying she was the nexus of her family, the mirror everyone turned to hopefully see themselves in. We will miss you Annie as never before.


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