"How is our Jool--ee-a" doing?" was what Anna Lynch asked me each time she saw me. She asked as more than an interested outsider; she helped me proofread Julia Wilbur's pocket diaries and provided me background information on many aspects of Alexandria's history.
Anna died a few weeks ago, age 92. A ceremony at the Lyceum brought together many people whose lives she touched in Alexandria, as well as members of her family who traveled here. She touched the lives of many more people along the way.
This is an admittedly very spotty account of her life, based mostly on conversations over the years. (If you are reading this and have additional information--or I have something wrong--please let me know.)
Her lovely childhood in Italy ended with Mussolini. Her father was Jewish and the family was able to come to the U.S. in 1939. Her father worked as a chemist but never attained the position he would have had back in Italy. Anna's gift for languages (she spoke many, in addition to Italian and English) led to work at several colleges as a language lab and classroom instructor.
Anna was already well established in Alexandria when I started volunteering. She would walk from the Alexandria House apartments around Old Town--to the library, Alexandria Black History Museum, Courthouse, and other places to do research. I'd ask her a question and get a handwritten "report" in return. (She did not use a computer, which makes her research all the more amazing.)
The ceremony--which everyone agreed she would have said not necessary--included talks by Alexandria staff who worked with her, the mayor, and family members. Several common themes: her curiosity, spirit, inclusiveness. She will be missed.