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1940 Utsayanthan Yearbook, Stamford Central School - Anne Willis(click image for larger view)
Margaret Anne Willis
By Karen Cuccinello 1/2019

As most of you know by now Anne Willis, the Stamford Village Historian, passed away at her home at 10 Beaver Street in Stamford on September 25, 2018. She lived in Roxbury, Gilboa and Westford, NY briefly as a child, New Mexico and Buffalo, NY for brief times in the late1940's and early 50's and spent the rest of her life in Stamford on Beaver Street. Anne was involved in a couple of different occupations but her true calling was her dedication to preserving and sharing the history of the Village. After all of her years of gathering history I felt a history of her own should be added to the books.

Margaret Anne, who always went by Anne as far as I know, was born on February 10, 1924, in Roxbury, NY to Mason and Daisy Belle (Rogers) Willis. Her parents were married in Stamford on June 22, 1920 and four children followed; Alice May (Mrs. McCauley 1921-2012), Roger Francis (1922- I think 1990 in NV), Anne and Philip Mason (1925-1987).

Anne's mother, who was her idol in the history field, was born to Day (I believe his real first name was James) and Cora (Chichester) Rogers October 12, 1898 in Almeda, NY (now known as South Kortright). Day and Cora were married May 31, 1894 in Gilboa. Cora died October 28, 1898 and Daisy was living with aunts and uncles of her fathers family in the Stamford 1900 and 1915 census reports on Beaver Street. I suspect Daisy and her father did stay in touch as he and his second wife visited in 1924. In 1928 Daisy is a librarian at the Stamford Village Library and in 1929 a reporter for the Mirror-Recorder. In the 1930 Stamford census she and the children are living with Uncle Arthur and Aunt Alice Rogers and she lists her occupation as newspaper editor. In 1940 they are all still together and living with Uncles Arthur and John Rogers.

Anne's father, who was born August 24, 1897 in Beloit,Wisconsin, listed his occupations as mechanical draftsman, photographer, minister and was also involved in a couple of church related musical productions. Mason appears to be out of the picture by the 1930 census then he and Daisy were divorced at some point soon after. He married at least one more time to Ruth Shambough and is buried as Reverend Percy Mason Willis in Chester Cemetery, Kent MD in 1962. I do not believe he had anymore children.

After graduating from Stamford Central School in 1942 Anne was employed as colorist by a photographic firm in New York City in 1943. I suspect that this was short lived because she then attended the New Mexico University and studied archaeology. While on a field trip in the ruins of New Mexico she heard about the Buffalo Museum of Science Training Course in Museum Methods. She attended and graduated from the one year course in 1951 then worked at the Buffalo Museum for a time before returning to Stamford.

Anne was home to stand as witness for her mom Daisy when she married Leo H. DeSilva on November 6, 1948. The wedding announcement stated that Daisy was a graduate of Stamford Seminary and Syracuse University and had been employed by The Stamford Press Inc. for 19 years. Leo was a graduate of Stamford Seminary and Albany Business College, and attended Pennington Seminary. He purchased and consolidated the Stamford Mirror and the Stamford Recorder in 1905 and added the Hobart Independent and the Prattsville News in 1928. He sold the paper in 1948 and died in 1967.

Anne became the Stamford Village Historian after her mother Daisy died in 1979, so she was historian for an amazing 39 years. Her mom had been filling scrapbooks with newspaper clippings, dating back to the 1890's, for years and continued until her death. As historian Anne was able to help just about anybody with historical or genealogical queries. I personally visited Anne about once per year over the past five or six years. She would go into the room off the living room and always find something pertaining to whatever I was researching. Anne also worked at the Stamford Village Library for a number of years during the 1980's or so.

On July 13, 2008 Anne received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her service as Stamford Village historian and she received an Award of Merit from the Delaware County Historical Association in 2012.

I found an article pertaining to Anne's mom being on the Fresh Air Fund Committee in 1931. The end of Anne's obituary states that any contributions made in her memory should go to the Fresh Air Fund, so I suspect she had fond memories of Fresh Air children, from NYC, staying at her house. She is buried with her mom in the Stamford Cemetery.

More articles by Karen Cuccinello

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