Amy S. Wilson
White River Junction, VT — Amy S. Wilson, 100, died March 11, 2022, at Valley Terrace Assisted Living in White River Junction, Vt. Amy moved to Valley Terrace in 2005, two years after the death of her husband, William E. Wilson. Beginning in 1974, they had lived nearby for more than two decades on Jericho Street in Hartford, and later at Hemlock Ridge. During her years at Valley Terrace, Amy formed close friendships with other residents and strong bonds with staff members who cared for her with love and respect for so long.
As her milestone birthday approached last summer, Amy said she hadn’t given the occasion much thought: “I just live from day to day.” But she agreed to a small gathering of friends and family at the Norwich Inn on June 29, 2021. “I guess you don’t reach 100 very often,” she said.
Though she was not a native Vermonter, Amy had a deep attachment to the Green Mountain State. During childhood visits to her grandfather’s home in Brattleboro, she swam, played outdoors with her siblings and cousins, learned to milk cows, and climbed trees. “My favorite tree was outside the main front porch,” she later wrote. “I’d perch up there and make note of who came and went.”
Amy was born in Boston, Mass., the first child of Philip H. and Amy (Bradley) Suter. She grew up in Milton, Mass., and graduated in 1940 from Ashley Hall, a school for girls in Charleston, S.C. Her mother, Amy recalled, had sent her there “to smooth out” her tomboy edges. Whatever the motivation, Amy believed her mother had chosen wisely. Boarding school, she said, had made her a more independent young woman and a better student. “I came into my own there and grew up.” She later trained in Boston to become a nursery school teacher and taught for a time in Claremont, Calif., during World War II.
On March 8, 1943, she married Bill Wilson. He was, she often said, “the best thing that ever happened to me.” The feeling was mutual. During their nearly 60 years together, he was her rock, and she was his. During Bill’s career with Standard Oil of New Jersey, they lived in many places, including New York, Miami, London, Athens, and Brussels. Wherever she went, Amy embraced the chance to expand her horizons and encouraged her children — Amy, Suzanne, and Steve — to do the same. She later shared her interests in the world around her with her three grandchildren, Owen R. Heine, Mary S. Wilson, and Amy J. Wilson. To her children and grandchildren, Amy was a source of love, companionship, and constancy.
In the Upper Valley, Amy joined St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Norwich, the Jericho Community Club, and the Norwich Women’s Club. She also took classes through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Dartmouth.
After the death in 1980 of their oldest daughter, Amy Owen Heine, Amy and Bill began helping others affected by cancer and other illnesses. They became active volunteers at the Upper Valley Hostel in Hanover, N.H. Maynard House, as it is now called, offers patients and their families a comfortable and affordable place to rest and recharge during treatment. Amy pitched in where she was needed, whether helping out at the front desk, making up beds for new guests, or washing dishes.
At Valley Terrace, Amy, who always enjoyed the company of children, volunteered at the nearby Willow School. She also attended book and poetry groups — and never missed the Thursday current events discussion group. She began every day by reading the newspaper, even when she needed a magnifying glass to decipher the headlines. She watched Red Sox games on TV or listened on her bedside radio late into the night. And she wrote letters to friends and family —hundreds of letters — as she had throughout her life.
Amy loved to read. “Books are your friends” she would say. She kept nearly every book she’d ever read, beginning with stories about Winnie the Pooh and her Peter and Polly readers. She enjoyed books about American history and politics, and always liked a good mystery. She had a strong interest in books by or about women from all walks of life — from writer Louisa May Alcott to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Amy kept her own writings about some of her life experiences. In 1972, on a trip with her husband, she described staying in a cabin without electricity in a forest of sequoias in California. “I feel as though I’m in another century with my wood-burning stove and kerosene lamp,” she wrote. “It’s part of the wonder of the place, I think.” It reminded her of a childhood family trip to a guesthouse in Maine, where “we would light the lamps and move about the house in their soft light, getting slowly and reluctantly ready for bed. And now 40 years later, I do the same thing — and just as reluctantly, I’ll turn down the lamp until the light goes out.”
Besides her husband and daughter, Amy was predeceased by her son, Steven L. Wilson; her brother, Philip H. Suter, and her sister, Gertrude LaPlante. She is survived by her daughter, Suzanne T. Wilson, and son-in-law Louis Groccia, of Florence, Mass.; her daughter-in-law Linda Wilson, of Hartford, Vt.; and her grandchildren, Owen R. Heine, of Woodstock, Va.; Mary S. Wilson, of Bismarck, N.D., and her husband, Tim Mentz; and Amy J. Wilson, of Philadelphia, Pa. She leaves three great-grandchildren, Owen P. Heine, Nyla J. Heine, and Tiwakanna Mentz; several cousins, and nieces and nephews.
In a letter she wrote in 2014, Amy expressed her gratitude to the Valley Terrace staff: “Thank you all for making this such a nice place to live.” The family would also like to thank Bayada Hospice for its support during Amy’s last months.
Memorial donations may be made to the charity of one’s choice. A burial service will be held in the spring. The Knight Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Published by Valley News on Mar. 20, 2022.