Pillars of community for four decades
By Marcy Stamper
Mary Anne Easter-Sitts was tough, energetic and focused — a lifelong artist and adventurer who was always willing to try new things. Sitts died last month at the age of 92 after 40 years as one of the pillars of Mazama.
Mary Anne and her husband, Bob Sitts — who died in 2015 at the age of 92 — lived on land they reclaimed from logging slash. “Mary Anne was an unbelievable force — her energy was so endless,” said Elaine Marquez, a close friend and neighbor on Lost River. “She was always weeding the place — it was always pristine, with flowers blooming and fruit trees fruiting.”
Mary Anne and Bob were both in their 50s when they got married, after each had lost their first spouse. Mary Anne had three adult children and Bob had two when they got together, said Mary Anne’s daughter, Sally Nelson.
Mary Anne learned to ski when she was about 18 (“She went to Stevens Pass with her sister — and came home with Dad,” said Sally) and skied into her 80s. “At the Loup, they gave her skis and put her on the lift. She had the run of the place,” Sally said.
Bud Easter, Mary Anne’s first husband, was an avid sailor. “Whatever he did, Mom was right there next to him,” said Sally, who remembers being in England when her father raced his boat in choppy waters off the White Cliffs of Dover. After that, the whole family spent months traveling in Europe.
Bud also had an airplane and, after he died, Mary Anne figured she should learn to fly it. “She was out there — she wasn’t afraid to try new stuff,” said Sally.
When Mary Anne and Bob first saw their Mazama property, it was a pile of logging slash, but Mary Anne was able to envision its potential, said Marquez. They built a cabin, a log house and a three-story log barn where Mary Anne painted.
In the early days, Mary Anne and Bob harnessed water from a creek to provide electricity for their house. Later, Mary Anne rowed across the creek to reach her garden.
At one point they had five horses, four mules, three dogs, three cats, seven chickens and two roosters. Mary Anne and Bob slept year-round on a screened-in porch to be close to the woods, the river and a beaver pond.
“That place was like a thoroughfare for wild animals — they were always having bears and cats of all sizes,” said Marquez.
“Mary Anne was a very important part of Mazama when she landed here. She was a very talented person, and made the glue that held the place together,” said Doug Devin, a friend and neighbor from Mazama.
A gifted watercolor painter, Mary Anne exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum and at galleries in the Methow Valley. “With just a few strokes, she could make a chicken look alive,” said Devin.
In addition to her devotion to what she and Bob dubbed Kickin’ Mule Ranch, Mary Anne was a major force in the Mazama Community Club.
The Lost River neighborhood was close-knit. “One of the funnest things about Bob and Mary Anne was that you could always count on having a cocktail hour. It’s the passing of an era for those of us in Mazama,” said Marquez.
Mary Anne remained very active until about two years ago, when pain from osteoporosis severely limited her ability to do the things she loved — painting and gardening, said Sally. Last year she moved to Whidbey Island, near Sally.
“You kind of want someone like that to live forever — she was so strong in herself and in what she did,” said Marquez.
But ultimately the pain became too debilitating. “She was glad to join those angels on the 21st [of December],” said Sally.