Johanne Schroeder was a resident and artist of Arden. She loved living and creating a life here among her friends and neighbors. In 2007, after battling illness, Johanne Schroeder passed away.
Before she passed, she bequeathed her entire estate to the Village of Arden:
I give and bequeath all of my property, both real and personal… to the Village of Arden. I make this bequest with the specific desire that the proceeds of my estate be used for the preservation and care of the natural spaces with the Village of Arden… The woods and greens of Arden have been my joy and inspiration, and I wish to contribute to their health and survival in the years to come. ~ Johanne M. Schroeder
She also wrote this letter to the Villages of Arden, thanking her friends here:
How does one say goodbye?
My dearest Friends and Neighbors of the Ardens. I have thought so long about how to possibly say goodbye and I can’t find the words. So I will say thank you instead.
Thank you for all your calls, the flowers, the offers for help. I listened to every message, I loved you for caring. But I didn’t know how to choose – and if I had seen one of you – what excuse did I have not to see all the others? And thus no one received a reply, except at the level of my heart.
I could never completely comprehend the wonder of my trusted pendulum bringing me to Arden and placing me in the midst of a loving family, something I didn’t have before. And the 10 years I was blessed with being here were, (in spite of the distressing legal problems with leasehold), the best, the most miraculous and astonishing of my life. Wherever I looked, I found acceptance. Thank you for the times you shared with me, for letting me linger in your gardens; for smiles; and oh, your magnificent hugs! Thank you especially for allowing me to hug your dogs who infused me so many times with their exuberant strength as mine flowed out of me and the body gave up. Don’t ever abandon the enchanting Disobedient Dog races on the 4th of July. They are one of the highlights of the year. Savor them for the precious nonsense they are.
Once one begins to contemplate what makes the Arden experience, it becomes clear, of course, that for each resident Arden is who they are and what they bring to it and contribute. I was especially fortunate because I came with an appreciation for Nature, a longing for a little wilderness, a desire to define myself in the new surroundings. And so it is not surprising that I did. The process expanded, but in the end, the miracles, visions, blessings, insights and divine gifts were absolutely everywhere. There was nothing in the Ardens that did not communicate to me a message or lesson. I came eager and determined to make a new life for myself and I ended up – thanks to you all and the Village of Arden – with a profound transformation.
Respect this piece of land, it will return you love with abounding exuberance. And yes, that includes some weeds.* ~ Johanne M. Schroeder
The Arden Craft Shop Museum currently has a small collection of her work consisting of a wall hanging and a mixed media sculpture. Her wall hanging is still on display. Her other work entitled Couple, was damaged recently. We are currently working on repairing the piece in order to get it back on exhibit.
If you would like to view Johanne Schroeder’s work, please visit the Arden Craft Shop Museum and the Village of Arden Gild Hall, where many of her wall hangings are on display.
*This appeared in the Arden Page, September 2007