Artist, rancher and community volunteer Anne Gladwill died unexpectedly at her home on Sept. 24. The Garden Valley resident taught Thomas Kinkade, made the seasons of El Dorado County famous, raised three children and contributed to the well-being of her community in a wide variety of ways.
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Gladwill was born in Dayton, Ohio. From her earliest days she knew she wanted to be an artist and she attended art school to learn to draw. She became a greeting card designer for the Gebson Greeting Card Company, an unusual job for a woman at the time.
She met her husband, Charles, in Hawaii where her father, an Air Force colonel, was stationed. Charles Gladwill was a captain and one of only two bachelor officers under her father’s command. In an oft-told family story, Anne’s father ordered his two officers to draw straws to determine which of them would escort his daughter to a social function. Charles lost and later said it was the best loss he ever had. They were married in 1952.
Charles Gladwill purchased 800 acres in Garden Valley before he met Anne, when he was stationed at Travis Air Force Base. After duty stations in France and Delaware, the couple moved to the property in Garden Valley in 1963 to raise their three children, Malinda, Brian and Steven.
Anne Gladwill credited her children with her involvement in the community, saying, “If your kids become involved, so do you.”
“She was a huge participant in everything,” said son Brian. “She was our Little League mom, the El Dorado High School ski team mom, a Cub Scout den mother, Girl Scout leader and helped out with everything when we were swimming with the Dry Diggings Dolphins. She participated in 4H with her granddaughter, too. All my friends from high school remember her with love and, already, almost everyone in my graduating class has responded to her loss.”
On the ranch, the Gladwills raised cattle and horses. Anne often took in rescued horses to help out the El Dorado County Animal Shelter and still had three horses she was caring for at the time of her death.
In addition to raising cattle and children, Anne Gladwill kept up her art. She was an early member of the Placerville Art Association and exhibited her watercolor and pastel paintings at Gold Country Art Gallery and the Chablis Gallery. Some of her most well-known paintings were a series showing the four seasons in El Dorado County. The paintings are from four different perspectives of Main Street and show the idyllic aspects of small town living — apple trees in bloom, families with their Christmas trees, snow in the mountains and historic buildings.
The series began with one of the seasons becoming a cover for the Sacramento Bee’s Home Magazine. It was so well-received that the Bee offered her a job as a graphic illustrator for their special sections, a job she held for 14 years. It also sparked paintings of the rest of the seasons. The paintings became well-loved prints and eventually greeting cards that thousands of visitors carried away as mementos of El Dorado County. The historic home where the Gladwills lived on Bedford Avenue from 1972-1995 became a bed and breakfast inn and the new owner named it “Seasons” in honor of Anne Gladwill’s paintings.
Anne Gladwill taught art at Edwin Markham School where one of her students was Thomas Kinkade. Many local artists were also in Gladwill’s class at Markham and at Sugarloaf Fine Arts Camp where she taught for many years. She was also an active member of the Studio Tour and many people remember her paintings on display at fellow artist Valerie Bye’s home.
Anne Gladwill’s artwork also graced her church, the Church of Our Savior, in Placerville. Inside the nave of the church, the 13 stations of the cross are beautifully depicted by her. Her sketches of the historic church were printed as greeting cards with the proceeds benefiting the church where Anne Gladwill served on the Altar Guild and was a member of The Order of the Daughters of the King. With her customary energy, she organized receptions and rummage sales and did portrait sketches at the annual Holly Faire fundraiser. She also donated or sold much of her artwork to benefit the church where she was a member since 1963.
Her last major art project was the illustration of a children’s book by well-loved local author Joan Barsotti. Barsotti died in 2010 before the book was published. Anne Gladwill’s illustrations were completed and the book may be published in the future.
In 2011, Anne Gladwill was selected as the El Dorado Golden Rose by the Rose Committee. The petite and vibrant 82-year-old was completely surprised by the award, which honored her many contributions to the community.
Anne Gladwill was preceded in death by her son Steven in 2003 and her husband Charles in 2007. She is survived by her daughter Malinda French and son Brian Gladwill; grandchildren Eric Lunde, Kristin Jackson, Matthew Lunde, Levi Lunde, Shawna Walker, Kirsty Gladwill, Charlie Gladwill, Nicole Isiger and Andrea Gladwill; and eight great-grandchildren.
Memorial services will be held at Faith Episcopal Church in Cameron Park on Thursday, Oct.10 at 1 p.m.
“Her outreach into Sacramento and El Dorado County is huge,” said Brian. “We know a lot of people will want to be there for her.” The family also plans to take some of Gladwill’s ashes and those of her husband and scatter them on their favorite beach in Hawaii.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.