By Liz Marchi
In my office, I have a sign that reads: “Beautiful young people are an accident of nature … Beautiful old people are a work of art.”
I met a work of art. So much of our dialogue about aging has to do with loss and acceptance and some notion that life will be less. Through the doors of a Bozeman coffee shop walks Anne Keresey. She is the mother of my dear friend, Caroline Price. Anne has recently relocated to Montana from Palm Beach, Florida. What’s a little climate change?
I have to admit that there are moments when I look at a recent photograph and hardly recognize my own face. Blessedly, I feel so different inside: vibrant, curious and generally very content. Anne Keresey, at 85, is a stunning woman. She was always beautiful but she has clearly taken care to exercise and eat well, and she still has that head-turning presence of a woman who still is very much living. She wears her clothes, her jewelry and her life very well.
Beyond her physical aura, Anne has a life story deeply tied to Montana’s past. Her husband’s grandfather was Cornelius “Con” Kelley, the former president and chairman of the Anaconda Copper Company and, with his partner, Orvis Evans, the builder of the beautiful Kootenai Lodge in the Swan. Con had five daughters, and Anne’s husband, Tom Keresey, was the son of Frances Therese Kelley. All the daughters had their own cabin for their families when visiting for summer holidays. Anne talks fondly of the fact that the girls absolutely could do everything: they shot guns, drove boats, waterskied, rode horses and camped in the woods. After the family sold the Kootenai Lodge, Anne and Tom bought a house on the east shore of Flathead Lake, continuing the Montana summer tradition. Though Anne has lived most of her adult life on the East Coast near New York City and in Palm Beach, Montana is a huge part of who she is today. Oh God, let me be so lucky!
Anne married Thomas Keresey in 1954. He was in finance on Wall Street. In 1975, they made the move to Palm Beach where he became president of the First National Bank. The move was prompted by a desire to commute less and have more time with family. The Kereseys were regulars on the charity scene in Palm Beach. Their only son struggled with alcoholism, and they became involved in fundraising for the Hanley Hazelton Drug and Alcohol Center. In addition to their son, they had three daughters. Caroline, their youngest, was born right before Anne’s 40th birthday, which was very unusual at the time. Anne and Tom always said that they planned on Caroline taking care of the them in their old age and that they planned to live a long time. Sadly, Caroline’s handsome father died of cancer less than a year after her wedding to Will Price. Anne has been widowed for 19 years.
A recent event prompted a move to Bozeman. Although she isn’t driving, she enjoys getting out a great deal and especially to attend her grandsons’ sporting events. Caroline’s friends find her an interesting and lively lunch companion. She is spunky, funny and speaks her mind. There is no sign of regret or loss, only what’s up today.
I find great happiness in the presence of those who are living life the way I want to be. Anne Keresey hasn’t let the need for a cane diminish her. She is a work of art.
Editor’s Note: Sadly, Anne passed away on November 23 unexpectedly. A life well lived.
Liz is fascinated by the various approaches to aging – from denial, to plastic surgery, to running marathons, to depression. Given our current demographics, Liz thinks there is a lot to explore, celebrate and learn from those living and aging in the Flathead Valley. Contact her at Liz@frontierangels.com.