Anne Paulin passed away peacefully on the morning of January 19, 2021. She ascended with a graceful spirit. Her daughters were fortunate enough to be able to be present with her during last days and hours.
Anne was born on September 11, 1929, the fifth sibling in a family of nine in the town of Toomsuba, Mississippi. Growing up in the “deep south,” as it was referred to in the early twentieth century, she, her family, and her community were still impacted by the appalling after-effects of war, and of slavery—even in the remotest of hamlets. Under the tutelage of the local churches and some caring citizens of the town and state, plus a revamped school system, largely influenced by the churches’ input, Anne graduated from Stevenson Vocational High School in 1947. She was a member of the first graduating class in Toomsuba’s history. From there, she attended Alcorn A & M College in Mississippi, graduating in 1951. Her college education was supported by contributions from family and friends, full time summer employment, and a scholarship from Stevenson School. She was joined by increasing numbers of young Black Americans, most notably Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers, who had also taken the uncertain steps on their long journey to full participation and citizenship in our nation. During that time, she also spent a semester “abroad” in Texas at Prairie View College, her first journey out of the state of Mississippi.
After graduating with a Business degree, Anne faced many legal and cultural barriers because of her race and gender. As a self-described “misfit” in the mainstream corporate world, she began her employment, or what she referred to as “the fringes of her aspirations.” However, Anne remained dedicated to developing her skills and forging ahead. She honed her business skills in a variety of positions, such as Secretary-Registrar at Utica Junior College, an HBCU in Hinds County, Mississippi. This independent state school offered educational opportunities to Black youth on the rural fringes of Jackson. She also worked as Administrative Assistant to the Business Manager at Prairie View A & M in Texas. And, later in her career, when she met her soon-to-be husband, Max, she served as the Head of Administrative Staffing Services at Franklin High School in Portland, Oregon.
Marriage and the birth of her three daughters led Anne to step out of the workforce and focus on the responsibilities of managing life at home with young children. After developing a plan to balance home-work life and with a vision of educational goals for her children, Anne re-entered the job market to find out that although a great deal had changed, much remained the same. She persevered, even when she was denied employment because of sustained racial and gender discriminatory practices at major corporations. Eventually, she was hired at CIGNA to work in Corporate Investments. Focusing on her desire to carve out her niche in corporate America, as well as to utilize the available resources to meet the growing needs of her family, Anne found a mentor, familiarized herself with the corporate terrain and mapped out the path that would sustain her both professionally and personally.
After retiring in 1994, Anne’s work was not complete. She continued to play an active role in the Episcopal Church, such as her participation in the choir and her ongoing commitment to the values and inclusive vision of the Church. She and her husband Max enjoyed the early years of their retirement connecting with family and friends, until Max passed away in 2001. In the remaining 19 years after becoming a widow, Anne continued to attend family gatherings, traveled to visit friends, and organized a family reunion in Connecticut. She also continued to parent her daughters and support them as they pursued their own careers and started their own families. She endured the tragic death of her eldest daughter, Lisa, in 2004, a trauma from which no mother ever fully recovers. Yet, even in the face of this life-transforming loss, she managed to retain her faith and grace. In her waning years, Anne joined the Maplewood at Orange Assisted Living community where she was treated like family. Besides being cared for by her daughters and the Maplewood team, Anne was also supported by the Constellation Hospice caregivers, who showered her with love, kindness, and compassion during the final weeks and days of her life.
Not only was Anne a model of integrity and wisdom for those who knew and loved her, she was also a strong, ethical, spiritual, intellectually curious, kind, generous woman, with a subtle sense of humor. Anne gave much more to the world than she took, and always offered help and support whenever possible. We will miss her more than words can express. She embodied motherhood and womanhood in a way that was truly inspirational.
Anne is survived by her two daughters, Diana and Priscilla; her four grandchildren, Spencer, Max, Micaela, and Domenic; and by her two sisters, Bernice and Rebecca, along with many members of the Anderson diaspora located across the country and the globe.
The family will celebrate Anne’s life at a later date, TBA. West Haven Funeral Home at the Green is entrusted with arrangements. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial gift in honor of Anne Paulin to the Kennedy Center in Trumbull, Connecticut, which provides supports and services for people with disabilities to live to their full potential. Donate online: https://www.thekennedycenterinc.org/giving/donate-now.html; or, mail to: The Kennedy Center Attn: Development Dept. 2440 Reservoir Avenue Trumbull, CT 06611; or, call 203-365-8522, ext. 2049.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Anne (Anderson) Paulin, please visit our floral store.
The Kennedy Center
2440 Reservoir Avenue, Trumbull CT 06611