When news spread of Anne Klapfish’s sudden death at age 69 on the morning of June 20, many in the St. George community were not only shocked but deeply saddened because Anne held down a special place in the hearts of so many of us—sometimes because of, sometimes despite the fact that she was a colorful, opinionated, fanciful, imaginative, generous, often painfully direct, self-indulgent, reflective and self-aware person. In short, one way or another she made an impact on people wherever she went.
For those reading this who didn’t know her, however, Anne Klapfish was more than a memorable personality. After all, memorable personalities abound in St. George. The thing is, her store, Stonefish, both when it was located in Port Clyde and then when it came to Tenants Harbor in 2014, made St. George more of the kind of town it used to be before Rockland and other larger Route 1 venues began dominating this part of the midcoast’s retail scene. With Stonefish in place, a shopper didn’t need to leave the peninsula to find, as she noted in this year’s Dragon ad, “a thoughtfully curated selection from around the world: apparel, decor, antiques, the peculiar.”
But for Anne her store, it must be said, was more than a source of income, though that was important to her. It was also a creative outlet for her fanciful inner life. Through it she told stories of times past, offered quirky takes on life’s disconnects and conjured possibilities. She filled it with romance, adventure and humor. Her punch-needle pillows, imaginative collages and idiosyncratic ornaments were both unexpected and delightful. And, importantly for St. George, through what she created at Stonefish, Anne helped re-establish a climate of retail sophistication here that others have since joined in nurturing. This is no small achievement. To the lighthouse, to the art galleries and studios, she helped add another dimension to why someone from away might want to visit this peninsula and contribute to its prosperity.
Anne’s practical interest in retail success was also matched by her desire for St. George to be a vital community in ways that went beyond the purely economic. Thus it was that in 2003 she proposed to a group of friends and acquaintances the idea of a Thanksgiving weekend event called “Yuletide in St. George,” an old-fashioned Christmas fair that was admittedly intended to be a Black Friday sort of occasion for her and the town’s other seasonal retailers, but that she also envisioned as something more. As Anne said in a Dragon interview in 2017, “Yes, it’s a shopping day, but it seems to me that over the years it’s become a time when in this community everybody just comes together in a spirit of conviviality and respect.” What she especially liked about Yuletide, she said, was that people would come for “all the right reasons”—to be part of a community and to support all aspects of what this community has to offer, whether its special kind of commerce or its many good causes.
Yes, there is no doubt that Anne Klapfish for a long time will be missed both by those who knew her well and by those who visited her store or merely knew her through random local encounters. She was a big personality who unexpectedly played a big role in making St. George a better community. —Julie Wortman
PHOTO: Julie Wortman