KEENE VALLEY — Anne Townsend Pyle Dennis passed away peacefully on Saturday March 5, 2011 at the Horace Nye Home in Elizabethtown surrounded by members of her family.
She was born September 26 in 1915 in the Jockey Hollow area of Morristown, N.J. and her family moved “lock, stock, and barn” (a two story hand pegged horse barn) to Larger Cross Roads, Bedminster, N.J., to be “closer to the foxhounds.”
Anne grew up “playing hardball and ice hockey with the boys” before spending five years at the all-girls Miss Hall’s School in Pittsfield, Mass. She went on to get her Registered Nursing Degree from Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing in New York in 1938. While there, her boyfriend, Thomas Watson, Jr, son of IBM’s founder, would swoop under the George Washington Bridge in a private plane to wave hello to her.
Upon marrying Thomas Dennis in 1941, she moved to Sheridan, Wy. They returned to Tewksbury Township, N.J., right after the war, where she raised five children and horses, as well as the occasional cow, sheep, and goat.
Anne, well known as a political activist, was the first woman to be elected president of a school board in the state of New Jersey. She campaigned heavily for Democratic candidates, marched for civil rights, the United Nations and peace. She continued to write Letters to the Editor for local
publications, and remained active in the League of Women Voters until late in her life. She always believed education was the key to the
In the early 1980s, Anne moved year round to the long time family summer home in Keene Valley where her grandparents had met and married a more than a century earlier. She spent her remaining years riding horses, mountain climbing, and telling wonderful stories of her long and fascinating life to anyone who would listen. She finished climbing the
46 Adirondack High Peaks (mountains over 4,000 feet) while in her 70s, and continued to ride until she was 90. Her last horse was her daughter’s retired off the track racehorse turned jumper whom she had watched compete at her favorite Lake Placid Horse Shows a few years before. She was a enthusiastic LPHS supporter could always be found at the ringside telling her tales of horse showing and foxhunting in the early days.
She is survived by her brother, AS “Gus” Knight of Chester, N.J.; three daughters: Mrs. Alan Officer (Lilla) of Kyneton,Victoria, Australia, Dr. Harriet Kline or Norristown, Pa., Dianna Robin of Athenry Co Galway, Ireland; her two sons: Thomas Gordon of Grans Junction, Colo. and James MacAlpin “Mac” of Keene Valley; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 12 at the Keene Valley Congregational Church, with a reception immediately following.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Keene Valley Library, Keene Valley, NY 12943; ATIS, Keene Valley, NY 12943; Keene Valley Congregational Church, Keene Valley, NY 12943.
W.M. Marvin’s Sons funeral home is in charge of arrangements.
For online condolences, visit www.wmmarvins.com.