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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Goodbye, dear Sigrid

It is always sad to lose a friend. When word came yesterday that Sigrid von Bremen Thomas, author of GOODBYE STALIN, had died of cancer at her home in Potomac, Maryland, I was saddened, though I had known her only a short time.

Sigrid and I met at my bookstore, of course. She told me in the summer of 2006 about her memoir and promised to be in touch, and we e-mailed over the course of the following winter and spring. Her cousin, Karin, planned the pre-publication party for GOODBYE STALIN, held at the new Dog Ears Books location in the summer of 2007. It was Sigrid’s book that brought us together, and I was grateful for the opportunity to spend time with this wonderful woman and come to know her even a little.

Sigrid von Bremen was born in Estonia between the two world wars. Her memoir tells the story of the family’s flight from Estonia to Poland to Germany (where they were unfortunately caught on the wrong side of the partition after the war) and her eventual departure from Europe and immigration to the United States. I will not recount here what Sigrid has told so memorably in her book. She and her cousin married brothers, men who are first cousins to three Thomas brothers in Northport, and so Northport became her second new home.

After beginning her American career life in New York as a photo editor at LIFE magazine, Sigrid went on to work as a landscape designer and writer on horticulture and--a serious equestrian herself--horse sports. She and her husband made their home in the East but always returned to Northport for an extended family summer visit.

Sigrid signed a copy of her book to me, “with thanks and love for a good year.” It was indeed a good year, and Sigrid von Bremen Thomas was part of its goodness.


Anonymous said...

Sigrid died at home, not at Hopkins.

P. J. Grath said...

Sorry--I will make the correction. Thank you.