Anne Hall North
On August 17th, 2022 Anne Hall North passed on to her unique version of heaven where there is tea at 11am with long-missed friends and family, red wine, endless books, laughter, Amy Winehouse and Jon Water’s Christmas albums on the radio (definitely no harps)
Anne, the OG Portland-weird, the woman who recycled by taking plastic containers to Nature’s before it was a thing and started a resale shop (also before it was cool) on Hawthorne in the ‘80s, died of pernicious cancer she named Putin at the time of her diagnosis in 2014, after his invasion of Crimea and her cancer’s invasion of her breast. The last eight years do not define her life, but they do exemplify the persistence and optimism that she carried through her 74 years.
Anne was born in Cambridge, England in 1948 to Richard North of London, UK, and Margaret Spencer Barroll of Baltimore, MD. Anne spent her early years in Thailand as her father served in the British Foreign Service before the family emigrated back to Maryland. Following her father’s career, the family moved to Toronto, Canada where she learned an appreciation for school uniforms and long underwear. Anne’s father passed away unexpectedly when she was 13, the same year her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. In the midst of these two tragedies, Anne’s extended family swooped in to bring her, her brother Jeremy, and her mother back to Baltimore and into the embrace and care of the large Baltimore cadre of relatives.
Anne was raised through her teen years and early adulthood by a tribe of strong and brilliant women who taught her resiliency and love, and instilled in her the value of education, of family, and tradition. After attending the Bryn Mawn School, Anne matriculated to the University of Pennsylvania where she earned a bachelor’s degree in history. Anne’s love of books led her to pursue a library science degree at the University of Maryland, after which she started her career in libraries in Northern Virginia.
In her twenties, Anne was charmed by a young man at a party and eight months later she married that young man, Kevin Murphy, at an outdoor wedding on the Eastern Shore on a family estate. With Kevin, a Vietnam veteran turned reporter, she lived in Virginia for the first years of marriage where their first daughter, Caitlin, was born.
After learning, from questionable sources, that the wilds of Oregon were in need of school buses, they decided to pack one up and move across country. The trip across was an adventure and Anne never forgave Missouri for being the state the bus broke down in three times along the way. They settled into Corvallis, OR, where their second daughter, Megan, was born. They sold the school bus to a cult that used it to drive over the Rockies away from the incoming Russian/Alien invasion. They were not heard from again.
The family moved to Eugene for a few years and then up to Portland where Anne completed the trifecta with the birth of her son Fionn. She cofounded the Portland Waldorf School to ensure her children would be educated with a healthy dose of beeswax, woodland fairies, and Greek mythology. With three small kids in tow, Anne and a friend opened a secondhand kids and maternity clothing store on Hawthorne, called Second Generations. After running the business for several years, Anne went back to her true passion in books and went to work at Powell’s Bookstore downtown in the library services division and then onto a similar position at Blackwell’s Books.
Anne persevered under any circumstance. She had a stiff upper lip and a very warm hug. She met everyone where they were and cultivated a beautiful multigenerational network of friends. Anne always had room for one more at her table and enjoyed sharing tea and scones, bread and cheese, and gory details with the ones she loved. Her extended chosen family brought her great joy and will forever live in the hearts of her children for the constant love and attention they provided over the final months of her life.
Throughout her life, Anne carried with her a connection to God and was a deeply spiritual person. Her commitment to the values ingrained in her faith were always present and expressed through her actions and care for others, whether that was inviting refugee families to live in her house, or cooking meals every Friday for families in need. Her faith was a comfort and a guide.
We, her born children and children of choice, were blessed to have been in her care and her love, and to have learned from her how to be strong, curious, caring, and endlessly creative and irreverently humorous. We will forever hold her in our hearts, and with one another by sharing forward her unique advice on life, including:
• First you pillage, then you burn
• It’s acceptable to bring a “healthy appetite” as your contribution to a potluck meal
• “Yes, well, hmmm” is a perfectly adequate answer to any question or comment
• And finally, in her last words spoken on this earth, Anne shared that “everything is better with sherry”
We extend our love and appreciation to the many friends who cared for her in the last months of her life, for Diane Hartford who took care of mom and all of us through this time, to Pastor Tom for always understanding the obscure theological reference, and for Lulu for remembering that you aren’t dressed without lipstick.
Anne leaves behind her son Fionn Murphy, daughter Caitlin Murphy Glasscock and husband Brad Glasscock, daughter Megan Murphy Wolf and husband Alan Wolf, chosen daughter Sara Keilholtz Bruckner and husband David, chosen daughter Adrienne Donovan-Boyd and husband Brian, and her former husband Kevin Murphy. She is survived by her five grandchildren, Adelaide, Millie, Caroline, Audrey and Declan.
There will be a celebration of her life at 3pm on September 17th, 2022 at Grace Episcopal Church. In lieu of flowers, mum asks that you buy yourself the perfect pair of shoes or take a beloved friend to lunch.