Natalie Babbitt once wrote, “Don't be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live, and she did.”
Hilda Stout lived every moment of her 92 years with every fiber of her soul.
I only knew her for 30 of them, and the memories I have of those years spent on her farm are immense.
As a child I spent my time exploring the land behind her big beautiful house. It was a simple time. My imagination was in its glory. The land stretched its legs as far as the eye could see.
There were always flowers and something sweet to eat in the kitchen. The small spring in front of the house offered a drink to the thirsty explorers on their quests to discover what lay inside the barn.
Time and circumstances would take me from the simple pleasures of my childhood, and throw me into adulthood.
As an adult I can still hold onto the beauty and the innocents of the Stout Farm, where everything was still, and we could go back to our childhood even for a moment.
My great-aunt Hilda was an artist, a homemaker, a lover of history, and a proud member of the Christian Temple-First Congregational Church.
Hilda’s love for art was fierce and it would not be silenced. She was taking art classes up until her death.
You may have seen her work when she was featured in the David Howe Library. This was a very proud moment for her, because she loved that library. Hilda loved art, music, books, and being around family and friends.
I have the honor of owning one of my aunts masterpieces, and she made it all from my description of moonlight over a waterfall and a cabin. It is one of the most beautiful paintings in the world.
Hilda was one of the first members of the Dyke Street Museum; including my grandmother Verna Jean Willis and great-grandmother Ina Church. Many of my great-grandmother's things remain in that museum. Hilda was the caretaker of her mother’s story.
She loved reading the Wellsville Daily Reporter, and enjoyed cutting out my stories when she would see my byline. Hilda would hold onto them, and tell my grandma all about them when she would call or visit.
Wellsville will remember her as an artist, a quiet member of the church, a 4-H leader, member of the Grange, member of the Dyke Street Museum, member of the Allegany Art Association, and the Cooperative Extension.
I will remember her as a compassionate and brave soul who took life by the reins and made each day count.
Thanks to my great-aunt Hilda I have a strong belief that anyone can be whatever they dream to be, and that one person really can make a difference.
Hilda Stout will not be forgotten, and her legacy lives on in her family, friends, paintings, and the farm.
The farm that gave me a safe place to explore as a child, a cold drink from the spring, and a place to always call home.
Hilda leaves behind her children; Sharon, Shirley, David, and Philip. She leaves behind grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and a sister. We will all miss her very much.
(Jasmine Willis is a reporter for the Genesee Country Express)