Anne Porter Paris passed away on May 18, 2023 in Buffalo, New York, leaving bereft the many who loved this compassionate, creative, and just woman.
She was born Anne with an E on June 20, 1938 in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada with bright red hair that would add flair to all subsequent entrances and would help to leave a lasting impression on the many she met throughout her 84 years.
The daughter of a United Church of Canada minister, her family relocated to serve different congregations throughout Ontario, including in the small town of Milford and the major metropolis of Toronto. She formed tight bonds with her siblings who fondly recall the stories and characters she invented to distract and entertain them while the adults were consumed by WWII.
After graduating from Queen’s University in Ontario, she taught for a year and then set off for a summer vacation in Europe from which she wouldn’t return for five years. Living in the Latin Quarter of Paris, among the beatniks of the 1960s, she met her future husband, an American, John Paris. Together they would have four children over the next 10 years.
During her three decades of child-rearing, the family moved every five years between several uncommon locations including the Christian community of L’Abri in Switzerland, idyllic Peaks Island in Maine, the beautiful but impoverished Navajo Reservation in northern New Mexico, and finally to the lush farmland of western New York. Though the majority of her energy was spent raising children, she also made time to befriend and support other mothers and write numerous short stories and scripts—even selling one screenplay to the CBC.
At fifty-four, with her children mostly grown, she began her second and most impressive act. Having earned a Master of Divinity at Colgate Rochester and ministered for a few years to the parishioners of Basom and Alabama NY, Rev. Anne Paris now headed to Buffalo to start a new life and put her faith into action, sharing God’s love. Here is where she remained for her final 3 decades.
In Buffalo, pained by the incarceration and drug addiction ravaging families and neighborhoods, she founded Paradise House–a halfway house for women recovering from addiction and prison. For 26 years, Paradise House helped hundreds of women find the support, love, and grace needed to transition to recovery, stabilize their lives, and regain their children. These beautiful women were Anne’s greatest joy, their struggles her greatest pain, and their successes her greatest reward.TheBuffalo News would call her a “petite dynamo” and “an old world activist,” The City of Buffalo would name a nearby street Anne Paris Way, and her work won many awards, but the items most often displayed in her house are pictures of the women of Paradise House, holding their reclaimed children.
In Buffalo she found her second husband, Rev. Hugh Pratt, who, until his passing six months ago, was her co-conspirator in social justice, her co-author, her greatest fan, her kind southern gentleman. Together they founded the Harriet Tubman Christian Church, platformed local leaders on their interview show The Just City, and wrote and produced Clinton’s Ditch, a play commemorating the Erie Canal, which was performed several summers at Canal Side.
Anne was preceded in death by her parents Gordon Porter and Caroline McLaren Porter and her sister Helen Porter. She is survived by sister Sheila Smith, brother Ian Porter; children JonaTompkins (Jeff), James Paris (Jenell), Jessica Paris (Marc Wheeler), and Emily Hoffman (Michael); grandchildren Lindsay Meland, Nicole Brower, Elise Hoffman, James Hoffman, Celia Wheeler, Oliver Paris, Wesley Paris, Mariel Hoffman, Maxwell Paris, Ferguson Wheeler, Sienna Hoffman, and Rosalie Hoffman; and 9 nieces and nephews — all of whom will miss her dearly.
Services will be held Tuesday, May 30 at True Bethel Baptist Church, on 907 E. Ferry St., Buffalo NY, USA.
There will be a 10:00 am visitation followed by a funeral service at 11:00 am.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Buffalo City Mission.