Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Ann Dasburg

Ann Dasburg

Honored June, 1993






Ann Dasburg

“It was in the 1980s that I became involved in the Environmental Movement” said Ann Dasburg. “At the same time, I became acquainted with the writings and teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn. His teachings about peace and the interrelationship of all sentient beings led me to follow a Buddhist path.”
She was born at home to Maude and Ward Jackson in 1916 in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Ann’s father owned a lumber company. She grew up with two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary.
Ann was thirteen when her father died, “the day before the great stock market crash,” she said. “My mother’s parents lost everything. We sold the house, and they moved in with us. I realized I would have to prepare to learn my own living.”

Ann attended the Laurel School in Cleveland through high school. “I went to college to be a teacher, but the real basis of my education was at Laurel,” Ann said. “I received an excellent education.”
She met and married medical student Andy Kerr in 1940. While Andy served in Europe during World War II, Ann “started a nursery school in Rochester for all the women who were working in the war effort,” she said. “The training I got from my involvement with the Rochester Junior League set the pace for all the volunteer work I’ve done in my life, but I quit when the league wouldn’t allow a black friend to join.” She also started an integrated day care center “to promote good race relations within the community.”

She married Al Dasburg, an electrical engineer and son of Taos painter Andnew Dasburg, in 1963. That year she “fell in love with Al and New Mexico.”

When Al graduated from MIT, back in 1932, his father bough him 80 acres of the Baberia Ranch, ten miles south of Santa Fe. The sale price was $200. The Barberia Ranch was a familiar, welcome sight for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. It took its name from a barber on the premises, whose patrons stopped for a shave before heading into town to woo the local women. In 1974 Al and Ann came to live in Santa Fe year round. Bill Lumpkins, the architect, designed his second solar house for them, on their Barberia spread. “The greatest thing that happened in my life was to come out here and realize that that this is where I was supposed to be,” Ann affirms.

As an activist, she is quick to spot a need and quick to fill it. For an antidote to macho debate in the Gulf War, she founded a new peace group, The Gathering of Women, recruiting members through an ad in the paper. With People for Peace, she encourage the planting of “peace poles” in schools and playgrounds.

Her frequent letters to the editor, from a “different perspective,” improve the public debate on community issues. She’s published dozens and composted dozens more in her head, on the two mile dirt road between her house and the highway. Another sign, perhaps, that she’s where she’s supposed to be – like so many New Mexicans, she does her serious thinking outdoors.

Story by by Karen Nilsson Brandt and Sharon Niederman

Photo by Joanne Rijmes