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Obituary for Phebe Ann Lewis (Clarke)

Phebe Ann  Lewis (Clarke)
Phebe Ann Clarke Lewis, 103, died peacefully May 5, 2018, in Manchester. She drew first breath November 2, 1914, and received her double first name and its uncommon spelling in honor of her mother’s mother, in whose Lake Forest, Illinois, home Phebe Ann was born.

Vermonters might recall Phebe A nn’s reminiscences about her youth in Manchester that were included in Vermont Public Television’s first “Vermont Memories” documentary.

After the premature death of her husband of 31 years, B. Gibson Lewis, Jr., a Presbyterian pastor in the suburban Buffalo village of East Aurora, N.Y., Phebe Ann decided in the early 1970s to return and become a full-time Vermonter in the Manchester home that her parents designed and began building in 1911. There she was able to concentrate on the many creative occupations that delighted her: free-lance writing especially, and also oil and water color painting, knitting, quilting, sewing, and making and enjoying live music. For several years she also manufactured and sold handmade bookmarks and greeting cards featuring Vermont wild flowers that she picked, pressed, and dried herself.

As a writer, Phebe Ann was for many years regularly active with the Southern Vermont Penwomen. At the weekly Vermont News Guide under past editor Marshall Peck, she originated the columns “This, That, and Th’Other” and “Bird Notes.”  She also wrote commissioned histories of Manchester’s First Congregational Church, Factory Point National Bank, Dorset Field Club, Mark Skinner Library, and The Equinox Hotel. Throughout her adult years, she also published poems, vignettes, and short stories that appeared in a variety of regional and national publications. Most recently she published her own fictionalized reminiscences, entitled “There Was No Place Like A Manse.”

Phebe Ann was an early supporter of the Manchester Music Festival, and she so much enjoyed keeping house in summer for the Rudiakov family musicians and their accomplished friends that the MMF board named her an honorary member. Her love of music also kept her at work for over 25 years as organist for both North Bennington’s First Congregational Church and Shaftsbury’s Redeemer Lutheran Church.

Phebe Ann’s service to the wider community of Vermont also included several years on Manchester’s Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Central Vermont Public Service (now Green Mountain Power) Advisory Board, and the boards of the Mark Skinner Library and Dellwood Cemetery.

The Rutland Herald recognized her in 2005 as “A Vermont Treasure,” and in 2008 Burr and Burton Academy gave her the school’s Alumni Achievement Award.

She was predeceased not only by her husband, but also by her younger sister Cornelia from leukemia in 1930, by her mother in 1946, her father in 1960, her younger brother, James McClure Clarke, a former U.S. Representative from Western North Carolina, in 1999, her older brother, Dumont Clarke, Jr., also of Western North Carolina, in 2004, and her step-granddaughter, Helen Wingard Hill, in 2007.

Survivors include her children Cornelia L. Dopkins (Richard) of Buffalo, New York, and Manchester, Vermont; Kevin Lewis (Becky) of Columbia, South Carolina; Deborah L. Rodecker (Robert) of Charleston, West Virginia; David Lewis (Rose Perfect) of Manchester, Vermont; their respective spouses; and many loving grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and generations of nieces and nephews.

No public service has been arranged. Interment will be private. Memorial gifts are encouraged for the benefit of Dellwood Cemetery Association, P.O. Box 178, Manchester, VT 05254.

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