(Article by Marcy, Photos by Katie)
Katie and I recently arrived at the home of Annalee Schubert and were warmly greeted by Annalee and her lively dog, Trixie. Walking through Annalee’s home is like visiting an art museum, with the one difference being that most of the works on her walls—acrylics, watercolors, unusual abstracts—are of her own creation. Currently the president of the West Texas Watercolor Society, Annalee holds shows at The Legacy and has some fascinating stories behind the works she keeps and how ideas evolve as she begins to paint! Through Katie’s photography, we hope to share a few of these amazing paintings. Annalee’s travels frequently supply her with her subject matter, most especially trips to Mexico where their celebration of the “Day of the Dead” (All Saint’s Day) has become the title of her annual Autumn Art Show.
Country girl, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, artist, widow, friend…each is a part of the fiber of the life of Annalee Witt Schubert. Born and raised on a ranch in Sweetwater, she still refers to herself as a “farm girl” who remembers the first Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup when the rustlers came to the ranch and cleaned out the dens! Annalee has been a Presbyterian her entire life and has a particularly close tie to the First Presbyterian Church of Sweetwater since her great-grandmother is credited with starting this congregation in 1881 in the parlor of her home.
Annalee met Mike Schubert when they were in high school. He graduated a year ahead of her, and both attended Tarleton State College. Following his sophomore/her freshman year, they married and moved to Lubbock where Mike earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas Tech University. As Annalee says, “Mike got his degrees, and I got Jessica,” their firstborn. From there, they moved to College Station where Mike received his PhD in Plant Physiology and then, on to Athens, Georgia, where Mike did Post-Doctoral studies at The University of Georgia. It was during their time in Georgia that their son, Jason, was born.
Following the completion of Mike’s educational pursuits, he accepted a position with A&M (the Resident Director of the Agrilife Research Center) that took them to Yoakum, a small town east of San Antonio and due north of Victoria. It was there that they lived for the next seventeen years and raised their family. It also was during this period, at the age of 40, that Annalee decided it was time to return to college. She enrolled at Southwest Texas State in San Marcos (now, Texas State University) and drove the 150 miles round trip several times each week until she earned a Bachelor’s degree in All-Level Art Education.
Annalee’s love of art began as a child, and she was drawing portraits of family and friends at the age of 10. Her parents knew she was gifted but saw art as a hobby and did not encourage her to pursue it beyond a form of enjoyment/entertainment. However, as she returned to college as a wife and mother, she followed her heart. Annalee began her career as an Art Teacher in 1988 in the Czech/German community of Shiner, Texas, at Saint Ludmila Catholic School. Although a story for another day, the school was named for Saint Ludmila, a venerated Czech saint/martyr and grandmother to Saint Wenceslaus, best known as “Good King Wenceslaus” in the 8th century.
In 1993 Mike and Annalee returned to Lubbock where Mike continued to work for A&M as a Plant Physiologist of Peanut Research at Agrilife, and Annalee began teaching art at All Saint’s Episcopal School. It was at this time that God brought them to Westminster Presbyterian Church. Mike became an elder and was liaison to the Palo Duro Presbytery during a very challenging period. The 2009 and 2010 years were especially trying times for Annalee, as Mike was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis, and following two lung transplants, he passed away on November 9, 2009. Then, in 2010, Annalee lost both her mother and sister.
One of her favorite paintings is a watercolor of beautiful sunflowers that emanated from this sad time of life, and she shares the following story of its origin. While Mike was sick in 2009, they were confined in San Antonio following a lung transplant. WPC member, Cezar Cervantez, was taking care of Mike and Annalee’s home in Slaton, and he planted some sunflowers along a fence. In August, Mike and Annalee were able to come home for a brief visit to check on everything, and they were surprised and amazed by the size and beauty of the sunflowers. Annalee took a photo of them which she later painted with the remembrance that this was the last time Mike was home.
Beyond her art, travels with friends, and a role as Bible study leader for the Esther Circle, Annalee happily talks of her offspring—Aggies, Jessica and husband, Scott, who live in Yoakum, and their four children; a son who graduated from A&M a year ago; a daughter who will graduate this coming May; and two more daughters, a high school senior who has been accepted at A&M, and a 13-year-old who surely must be bleeding maroon and white! Her son, Jason, has two degrees from Texas Tech; and he and his wife, Sarah, and their three children (two daughters, ages 14 and 10, and a son, 13) live in Claremore, OK, where Jason is curator of the JM Davis Gun Museum and a “talking head” on the Outdoor Channel.
When asked if there was anything she would like to share beyond her family and her art, Annalee had a ready answer. She said that she would like to share her experiences regarding widowhood, saying that it was a very difficult time at first—a period when she was unable to paint or create. And yet, she added, she can now see that it has offered her a “second chance at being who she is and who she can be. I know myself better now and feel I’m more of a person in my own right.” She continued that although she is sometimes lonesome, she realizes that “God has blessed me every single day. He didn’t take Mike away—Mike always belonged to God. It’s not what I would have chosen, but prayers have covered me, and I’ve found a peace.” There could be no more beautiful ending to any story than that.