Monday, March 31, 2014

Remembering Anne

I have been thinking about an old friend recently. I met Anne Winter in 1982 working at a restaurant called the Baking Company in Omaha. My friend Claudia Herzog, whom I played violin with in the Omaha Youth Symphony, got us a "gig" playing duets at the Baking Co. the summer after my junior year of high school.(Claudia's mother-in-law owned the Baking Co). Anne worked in the bakery. We became good friends. Our primary connection was music. She had a huge record collection and was up on all of the latest new wave and punk music of the day. She also liked classical music too. Our friendship stayed in tact through high school and college. We drifted apart for awhile, exchanging letters occasionally, but we re-connected in 1995 when Cheryl and I moved to KC. Anne and her soon-to-be-husband Kurt had opened a record store at 39th and Main Street called Recycled Sounds.
After college, I joined a jazz big band called the Men of Note, playing the upright bass. I worked with those guys for nine years, gigging on weekends. It was a wonderful experience for me, and I have many fond memories of those years and that wonderful music. But it came at a price; I didn't play my violin much at all during those years. When Cheryl and I moved to KC, we connected with Anne and Kurt. We were in the same stage of life....beginning families, nurturing careers, moving into homes etc...They invited us over for wonderful dinners many times, and introduced us to their friends. Shortly before their wedding, Anne asked me to play something on the violin for Kurt's parents' 50th wedding anniversary. I was honored, even though I was terrified, not having played in such a long time. I found my violin and frantically began practicing. I was very nervous when the celebration began, but once I started playing, I relaxed and managed to play well. I was happy not to ruin such a special occasion, but even more importantly, my interest in playing the violin was rekindled. Within a few weeks, I started looking around for other opportunities to play. I soon discovered the Independence Community Symphony was auditioning string players. I auditioned and have been with them since 1995. (We are now known as the Heritage Philharmonic). I also started working as a strolling violinist, as well as performing at church. A couple of years later, I joined the faculty at the Music Arts Institute in Independence and taught violin there for several years.
Anne and Kurt had 2 children (Max and Eva) while Cheryl and I had Jack and Ethan. We enjoyed many family "get-together s" and life seemed perfect.
But as is often the case, life got busy, and we soon drifted apart again. Our circles became harder to cross once the kids started school and other activities. We lived in Lee's Summit and they lived in Brookside...2 separate worlds. Kurt and Anne sold Recycled Sounds in 2006. She told me it was just too hard to keep that lifestyle going with children. She wanted to do something else. She got a 9-5 job downtown. Kurt became a massage therapist. 
I had phone conversations with her occasionally...we talked about the old days...and how we needed to find some time to get together for coffee. After another lengthy gap in contact, I was shocked to read her obituary in the paper. She took her own life in October 2009. I was stunned....deeply saddened.....I still am.
I didn't know about her battle with depression, prescription medication and alcohol. I never would have suspected it. 
It is just so sad. It eats at me. I have not had any closure. But the more I have thought about this, I see now that my closure is my violin. She brought me back to it. She made me whole again. And I will always be thankful to her for that. I miss you good friend.


  1. Tim, this was a lovely tribute. And now, I'm about to say something hypocritical: there's no point in letting her suicide eat at you, as you put it. When someone decides their life has no worth, nothing anyone else says or does can change that. Realizing that has not made the pain go away, but has opened me to a deeper and sadder thought, that we are all alone with ourselves (and God, if we are believers). The best we can do is to communicate love as much, as often, as fearlessly as we can.

  2. Hi D. I thought about you as I was writing this. And your point is true. As a believer....I pray for you and your family...for strength and peace in the face of such a loss. I hope Anne's family is coping well. I wonder.....Be well good friend.