Maggie Lake
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Maggie Lake

1954 - 2015 WESTMINSTER WEST, VT. Maggie Lake was born Margaret Samuel Lesser in Huntington, N.Y. on August 21, 1954. She was the third of Marcia and Gill Lesser's four daughters. Though Maggie and her three sisters spent their childhood in New York, her father Gill's career with the alpine skiing industry and love of the mountains took them on frequent trips to Vermont. In 1968 the family purchased a farmhouse in Grafton, VT. At first, they used it only as a base for their skiing and hiking trips, making the four hour drive from New York in a battered station wagon. Before long they made a place for themselves in Grafton's small community and moved there permanently. The move brought Maggie to the Vermont woods and fields where she would build her life. Maggie had an incredible work ethic, wealth of creativity, love of nature, and compassion for the human spirit, which showed in every aspect of her life. She studied botany at Antioch College and ventured to the Alaskan tundra for a year that would forever link her with that landscape. Later, she became a nurse practitioner, bringing her unique brand of compassion and humor to the medical profession. In 1982 Maggie married Tracy Lake, whose family lived just down the road from hers. They built their home in a quiet clearing along the Saxton's River. In her 25 years of homesteading there she grew bountiful gardens, built a log-cabin house that evolved into a beautiful home, played fiddle in an old-time string band, helped on her father-in-law's logging crew, worked as a nurse practitioner, and started a botanical art business. Her artwork became one of the main focuses of her life. She collected specimens in her gardens, the surrounding fields and woodlands, the Alaskan tundra, rainforests of Australia, and Alpine meadows in France, Italy, and Switzerland. All while raising her two children, Norah and Hayden, to whom she devoted herself. Maggie moved to Westminster West in 2005 with her partner Oliver. With his unwavering support, she took her artwork to new heights of creativity, confronted an extended battle with cancer, and focused on living with even more determination. Maggie was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2006. She faced this challenge with the same vigor, humor, and creativity that exemplified her life. Through the next eight years, two stem cell transplants and multiple rounds of chemotherapy, she danced in the chemo suite, grew and preserved food, traveled the craft show circuit, worked with her children on their own homesteads, built her partnership with Oliver, and was a strong support for her friends and community. Despite the uncertainties facing her, she built a beautiful new art studio, tilled open new gardens, explored new types of art, practiced medicine, and continued to live life to the fullest. Maggie ended her journey peacefully at home, surrounded by her family, on January 16th, 2015. She will be remembered lovingly by her children Norah and Hayden, her partner Oliver, her sisters Katy, Elizabeth and Joanne, and the hundreds of people whose lives she touched. Maggie filled every moment with creativity, beauty, and humor and left life with the sole regret that she couldn't be here for longer. Her art hangs around the globe, the patients she cared for fill a town and beyond, her children carry on her legacy in their hearts and homesteads, and the beauty of her spirit is within anyone who knew her. If you want to see examples of Maggie's artwork, you should visit the Mitchell-Giddings gallery before March 1. A celebration of Maggie's life will be held June 21st 2015 at Green Mountain Orchard in Putney. For details go to : In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Brattleboro Free Clinic, Planned Parenthood, or Caring Bridge. Maggie, thank you. Your life has been a gift to each of us. Rest in peace.

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Published in Brattleboro Reformer on Jan. 21, 2015.