Anita J. Reichert, 98, of Middlebury


MIDDLEBURY — Anita J. Reichert, 98, of Middlebury, passed peacefully in her sleep on Jan. 5, 2020, at the Helen Porter Healthcare and Rehabilitation center. She was born in Middlebury on Aug. 27, 1923, the daughter of Henry C. and Margaret J. (Kelly) Wilcox.

Shortly after graduating from Middlebury High School, Anita and her school mate, Jackie Peterson departed Middlebury by train to work for a defense contractor in Hartford, Conn. After the war, she returned to Middlebury and worked as a supervisor for the Van Raalte Company in the Marble Works. She met her soon-to-be husband Erwin at a local dance, unknowingly arranged by her friends. They quickly became inseparable and married at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in 1949.

Anita proudly lived at her home on South Street for the last 80 years. Her first 18 years were spent on Weybridge Street with her mother and father, before moving to her present home.  The move was precipitated by a December night fire that engulfed their Weybridge Street home, forcing them to flee from a second-floor window to the safety of the snow below. It was on South Street that she raised her three children and developed many lasting and loving friendships that endured to the end.

Anita could often be found working her passion in the yard, planting flowers wherever the earth would allow. She received many honorary awards from The Middlebury Garden Club for her eye-catching displays.   That recognition kept her inspired and raised the bar for each consecutive year. When not in Middlebury, Anita would move her family to their summer camp on Fern Lake, where she would replicate her charm on that landscape. There she enjoyed entertaining large groups of friends and as her family grew the back door seldom closed. The refrigerator was always full in anticipation of another unexpected gathering and her hair brush and makeup bag were never far from reach.

Wherever her travels took her, Anita was a proud ambassador, cheerleader and promoter of all good things Middlebury. From flight attendants to zookeepers, they all knew where she came from and what the town of Middlebury had to offer. Once, after returning home from an out-of-town trip, Anita’s tune momentarily changed. Like a needle scratching the surface of a vinyl record, Anita opened her property tax bill for the coming year. After catching her breath and fanning her forehead, she rose in justification and recounted all the wonderful services her community had to offer. Her only hope was that she would be around long enough to benefit from some of them. And she certainly was.

Anita always liked to reminisce about her near century of life in Middlebury — from horse-drawn sleigh rides through town with her father, rumble seat car rides with her uncle Mort Wilcox, and walking home with her grandmother holding lit candles offered at the St. Stephens Christmas Eve service. Sunday picnics with her parents at the Fern Lake access area and helping her mother sell baked goods at the Middlebury fairgrounds were often spoke of. Over time and in an effort to break the isolation that winter brings, Anita could be found cross country skiing on the college trails, returning home with multiple stories of encounters she had with students and local residents.

Anita always looked forward to fall, for that meant Patriots football. With a large glass of her favorite red and an unbelievable play by Brady, she was difficult to contain. Her instructions were to only call, if necessary, at halftime.

Anita is survived by her daughter, Kathy Curtis of Suwanee, Ga.; her son, Ron Reichert of Rehoboth Beach, Del.;  grandsons Andrew Strachan, Fraser Strachan, Richard Reichert and Gary Reichert; and four beautiful great- granddaughters. She was preceded in death by her husband, Erwin (1985), her youngest son, Gary (1983), and her brother Ralph Wilcox and sister Celia Hobbs.

There will be a family gathering at Fern Lake later this summer in celebration of the many acts of kindness, compassion and love she gave so many.

The family would like to thank the amazing community of caregivers and healthcare providers at Helen Porter and the Addison County Home Health Care & Hospice for making Anita’s final months a true gift.◊

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