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Loss of a Friend

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Sunday, 19 February 2012 in Uncategorized

I've just been notified of the death this morning, in Denmark, of my dear friend Annelise Platt.

Here I am about 18 years ago (where does time go?!) with Annelise in the middle, and on her left, Middy Thomas, who later illustrated the Gooney Bird books.

Annelise was born in Copenhagen and grew up there but she came to the USA when she married an American whom she had met in Scotland. "I thought he was a locksmith," she said once. "He said he had gone to Yale. I thought it was a school for locksmiths."

Actually, he was a lawyer; and eventually he was a law partner of my then husband, and she and I became very close friends. Our kids grew up together and were friends as well. We took care of Torben's iguanas and boa constrictors (and my cleaning lady quit, because it it) when the Platts were out of town.

Time passed, and things changed. Years later, after the kids were grown, the iguanas were dead, we were both divorced and living, both of us, in the same apartment building on Beacon Hill, she and I took a vacation together. I had chosen the spot...Bermuda....and it looked good to her, in the brochures, and off we went.  It was only after we were ensconced in a hotel on the water, unpacking, that she looked around, and said, "I think I've been here before."  "Oh? When?" I asked. "On my honeymoon," she said.

Here she is in Bermuda:

 

 

It was during that trip that we talked a lot about our childhoods and our families when we were growing up. I had lost my only sister when we were young. So, it turned out, had she. I asked her how her sister had died, and she explained that she had been newly married, and pregnant....she was much older than Annelise....and had died, along with the baby, in childbirth. I was shocked. Denmark is a civilized country with an excellent health care system. How could that happen?  It was during the war, Annelise said. We were occupied by the Nazis. Health care and nutrition were very poor then.

And it was then, in hearing what life had been like for a little girl living in a Nazi-occupied country, that my interest in telling the story of Denmark in 1943 began.  Annelise was an enormous help in providing details...what would you have worn to school? What would a family dog be named? (And she prevented me from having the Danish mother in the book make an apple pie. "Haven't you ever heard the expression 'As American as apple pie?' " she asked)  And she introduced me to people in Denmark who had been part of the Resistance.

She came to Chicago with me when NUMBER THE STARS received the Newbery Medal in 1990, and stood and waved to the crowd's applause when I introduced her to the audience.

When I took this picture we were on the Royal River in Yarmouth, Maine, in a friend's boat.

 

Later she went back to live the rest of her life in Denmark, and met Niels, the lovely man who became her partner for her remaining years and who was by her side this morning when she died. Martin and I visited them there several times. Her homes were always filled with color and paintings and laughter; and she will be missed by a great many people who loved her the way I did.

Looking through old photos, I found this one which shows her and Martin goofing off together. They both loved fun, and each other.

Goodbye, Annelise. Tusind tak.

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Katie Alfare Garber
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Katie Alfare Garber Sunday, 19 February 2012

Annelise sounds like an impressive woman and a wonderful friend. I am so sorry for your loss.

Matthew
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Matthew Sunday, 19 February 2012

What great memories. Sorry for your loss.

Jenn Fischer
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Jenn Fischer Sunday, 19 February 2012

I am so sorry for the loss of such a dear friend.

Max Vasilatos
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Max Vasilatos Monday, 20 February 2012

Nice note about Annelise, she deserved it!

MaryJo Cally
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MaryJo Cally Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Hello from Chicagoland,

Last night I read NUMBER THE STARS for the first time and as I fell asleep, I thought about the lovely way you brought your friend Annelise to your readership. Now here I am, learning of her passing.

In the Greek Orthodox Church of my heritage, we sing a memorial hymn E-O-NEE-AH EE-MNEE-MEE which means.....May her memory be eternal..... It took me some years to feel the depth of that statement. Surely in the case of your friend, her memory WILL be eternal, in NUMBER THE STARS and in the sharing about your friendship and the memories you created.

I see that you will be in Chicago next month and will email you an idea I hope will be of service to you.

Sincerely,

MaryJo Cally@aol.com

Jennifer Bryant
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Jennifer Bryant Monday, 27 February 2012

I am so sorry for your loss. I have been teaching Number the Stars for over a decade to my 5th grade students. You and your friend have created a phenomenal legacy of literature and history. Thank you!
Jennifer Bryant

Michelle
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Michelle Thursday, 01 March 2012

I am so sorry to hear about your friend's passing. My studetns finished reading [u]Number the Starsw[u] today. After reading the "Afterword" my kids were wondering about Annelise so we Googled her name. My class was sad to hear that she passed and we were shocked that it happened so recently. Thank you, for sharing her story with us. There are no words for what I feel every year when I am able to share this story with them. Thank you. My class is thinking of you as you remember your sweet friend. God bless. Michelle Holt

Obie Williams
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Obie Williams Wednesday, 14 March 2012

I know it is a bit belated, but I am terribly sorry to hear about your lost friend. She sounds like she was a wonderful person who lived a remarkable life. I imagine she, too, was proud to have you as a friend. Because of you, a piece of her will live on to educate young readers for decades to come. When my daughter is old enough to read Number the Stars, and I give it to her for the first time, I will be sure to tell her about Annelise. Thank you for sharing her story with us.

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