From the Editor: ‘good neighbour’ | From the Editor | Seven days

Click to enlarge

  • Courtesy of Pamela Polston and Henni Cohen
  • Left: Maggie Sherman holding a kid in Elmore. Right: Sherman as Honey the professional waitress

A bright light went out on Burlington’s Lakeview Terrace last week when artist Maggie Sherman died in the early hours of Wednesday morning. A longtime reader of Seven days, she was my friend and neighbor for 13 years. We shared ingredients, props, painters, “Ted Lasso”, sunset drinks, shoes, dinners, car rides to the pool. My partner, Tim, and I loved her like a big sister. Supportive and spontaneous, she was the youngest of 71 years that we knew.

Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Maggie was a community artist, as her obituary explains. In 1981, she imagined and single-handedly carried out an ambitious mask-making project in the rural town of Montgomery, Vermont, which required the participation of residents of all kinds. Read: She could talk to anyone. She was loud and fun and flirtatious and, on occasion, outrageous.

She turned those skills into a side gig as an icebreaker for hire: Dressed in a retro dinner outfit, Maggie’s character creation, Honey the Professional Waitress, activated a perfect Southern accent to chat with the attendees at conferences and corporate events. All that performance art and community organizing went into running his business, One of a Kind Bed & Breakfast, next door. She charmed her guests with gracious hospitality and a big lipstick smile.

At the start of the pandemic, Maggie started the evening ritual of banging pots outside our homes as a thank you to healthcare workers – and kept it going long after most other Lakeview Terrace residents had gone. be arrested. During the summer of 2020, she hired actors from the Vermont Shakespeare Festival to perform scenes on the street. Maggie would have been delighted to see how many of these neighbors honored her as she lay dying, two Saturday nights ago, by placing lit candles in their snowbanks, setting our common street ablaze.

She learned she had a rare form of aggressive thyroid cancer at the end of last August, about a week after she hosted a “salon” of doctors and other healthcare experts on my behalf. – Seven days was pursuing a cover story about medical wait times. The targeted immunotherapy worked for a month or two, as Maggie happily swam, walked and cooked, “until it didn’t,” as she candidly put it. She was angry and scared at the thought of dying but also gracious and resigned.

It was agonizing to see her slip away – too soon, too quickly. The visiting fan crush waned, per Maggie’s instructions, and her son and sister cared for her at home until the end. hours before, Seven days Co-founder Pamela Polston brought together a group of creative friends to turn her cardboard cremation box into a stylish “rocket” painted red and pasted with illustrations, photographs, haikus and even red underwear.

Along with creators like Burlington filmmaker-photographer John Douglas, who is also commemorated in this week’s issue, Maggie belongs to a generation of Vermonters who made this state more interesting, wild and wacky. She was the third of my close neighbors to die in the past two years – too many losses to process.

Everything about Maggie was dramatic. Shortly after her death, at the right time, that great Wednesday morning wind picked up and blew her away, leaving our neighborhood of Burlington, and Vermont, a little less fabulous.