Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Annie Lou


My sister-in-law, Annie Lou Bayly Berman, passed away on Easter Sunday at the age of 40.  She was one of my favorite people.  But this doesn't make me unique: she was among the most popular and well-loved people I have ever met.  This affection was well-earned -- Annie Lou was, in my experience, unfailingly upbeat, warm, and interesting.  She was a lot of fun.  And she had exceptional friendship skills -- she was generous with both her time and her praise.  She had an ineffable quality -- one felt special to be in her orbit.  I tried to capture a bit of this in the obituary that I put together with her sister Johanna.  Here is an excerpt: 

Anne Louise Bayly Berman, who was known as Annie Lou, passed away on Easter Sunday at her home in upper Northwest Washington.  

Smart, funny, and outgoing, Annie Lou was a connector -- someone who made matches, knitted people together, and created community wherever she went. She did this first and foremost among her immediate family, which included her husband MJ Berman and her beloved children Charles (Charlie), Theodore (Teddy), Louisa (Scottie), and Helene (Nell).  

In the mission statement she created for her family, Annie Lou wrote, "Our family believes in a life of kindness, adventure, humor, beauty, and love, thoughtfully and responsibly lived."

Annie Lou more than lived up to this pledge.  A 3rd generation Washingtonian, she was passionately committed to her city. According to an interview with Washingtonian magazine, Annie Lou felt the most romantic spot in Washington was "the crumpled-down aqueduct near Key Bridge.  It's where I got engaged.  We went on a bike ride, got engaged, went to Cafe Milano and then went swimming.  It was a perfect day for me."

Annie Lou's commitment to Washington was manifest in her professional life as a writer, event planner and tastemaker.  And it was manifest in her charitable work as well. 

Annie Lou was the founding editor of Daily Candy DC.  Her work at Daily Candy involved offering daily recommendations about shopping, food, and culture to thousands of subscribers -- including tips for last-minute Christmas shopping at CVS (a stunt that was covered by USA Today). 

Before joining Daily Candy, Annie Lou was active in the Washington art world.  This included her work at the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art, where she was responsible for conducting oral history interviews with a range of important contemporary artists such as Kehinde Wiley and Shepard Fairey.  She was also a significant volunteer contributor in the early years of Artomatic DC, the annual non-profit arts festival. 

In addition to Artomatic, Annie Lou's voluntary efforts included her service as a founding member of BabyLove DC, a non-profit that provides baby gear and supplies to those in need.  She also served on the board of directors of the DC Public Library Foundation and Blue Igloo Playgroup.  She was active in the PTA of Horace Mann Elementary School and was a teacher for Roots of Empathy.

Annie Lou was born on Christmas Day 1975.  I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that she was born on Christmas and died on Easter.   

She is a real loss for my family -- and for the city of Washington.

Annie Lou was an early adopter of the Internet, creating a variety of web content including videos, blogs, and other written material.  I have assembled a few of Annie Lou's greatest hits here.  Taken together, I think they offer a sense of what was special about her. 

Quick Picks from a Drugstore Santa -- Annie Lou goes shopping with USA Today 

Stop Nader -- Video of Annie Lou as a repentant Nader voter

Favorites -- Washingtonian magazine interview

"Depends on the lighting" -- Fishbowl DC interview

Sweet Smarts -- Baltimore Sun story

Shepard Fairey -- Annie Lou oral history interview

...For Ladies -- Annie Lou's series of instructional videos