In Memorandum:  A Love City Angel Gets Her Wings

In Memorandum: A Love City Angel Gets Her Wings

Good Morning, Good Morning to you all.  I’m afraid I have some very sad news to share with you all today…

Last Friday, August 5, at 1PM, St. John’s Barefoot Minister, Anne Marie Porter, took her last breath on the island she loved so much.  And her spirit left this earthly world; casting behind it a light of kindness, strength and gratitude in her void for all who were lucky enough to know her well now feel.  I, unfortunately, was not one of the  lucky ones to have a history and personal connection with this beautiful woman who married hundreds of happy couples on the beaches of St. John.  And, I don’t believe tributes as important as this one should be written without that personal connection behind them.  So, I reached out to an old friend who readily agreed to write the following dedication.  Both in healing and in memorandum….  

In Memorandum: A Love City Angel Gets Her Wings 1
Anne Marie Porter – The Barefoot Minister – Cast a light wherever she gazed and emulated LOVE – Photo Permissions- Anne Bequette STJ Creative Photography

“Thank you, Girlfriend.” – A Testament to Anne Marie Porter, aka The Barefoot Minister, aka, Angel on Earth

When living within such a small community, especially here on St. John, it doesn’t take long for those diamonds in the rough to catch a ray of the Caribbean sunshine, and sparkle it in your direction… Leaving a permanent glimmer on your life and in your eye. 

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Photo Permissions- Anne Bequette STJ Creative Photography

Ten years ago to date, my sparkle came an hour before sunset on Trunk Bay as I arrived to shoot one of the first elopements of my career here on the island.  I remember the nerves, double-checking the clients’ names, and triple-checking my camera gear to make sure I was prepared. 

And I remember Anne Marie…Standing in the parking lot to greet me with that contagious smile upon her face. She grinned and sweetly said, “Hey Girlfriend.” For reasons unbeknownst to me, at that very moment, my nerves disappeared.  And I felt like I was in the presence of a best friend, a sister, a loved one instantaneously; yet I had only known her for a few minutes. As the years passed, I quickly learned that this was just one of Anne Marie’s many beautiful soul qualities that she exuded when you crossed her path.  That ability to make you feel as though you were being wrapped in the arms of an angel’s hug. And that’s what she became to me, to my life here, to my career growth… an absolute Angel. 

Over the last ten years, our friendship grew to the point where I would leave an hour earlier to meet with her at our beach ceremony spots.  Just so we could get in as much Life & Soul Talk as possible before our couple arrived to say I Do. 

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“The A-Team” Photo Permissions- Anne Bequette STJ Creative Photography

Life, love, and loss were our go-to topics of discussion, and it never failed how she could turn any negative aspect in my life into a positive one. It’s as though she took the ‘heavy’ out of anything I was carrying on my heart or shoulders and carried it on hers instead. No matter if we had both been crying or laughing to the point of tears just minutes before, each time our couples first approached us come ceremony time Anne and I introduced ourselves with a smile: 

“You have the A-Team working with you for your special day! Anne and Anne-Marie!” 

For the hour that always followed this greeting, I’d forever capture her gift of blending two hearts into one. I owe an extremely major portion of my success as a photographer and believer in Love to the witnessing of her in this element. 

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Photo Permissions- Anne Bequette STJ Creative Photography 

Although I could write this testament to her for eternity, there are simply not enough words or paragraphs to justifiably encapsulate the remarkable essence of Anne Marie, but I will do my best by sharing the details of three (especially) special exchanges she and I had over the last few years. And I foreshadow that it’s no coincidence that all three provide such bittersweet comfort and inspiration at this time of mourning for all of us whose lives she has touched.

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Photo Persmissions- Anne Bequette STJ Creative Photography

The first exchange that stands out is not so much a matter of the details of the predicament I was facing, but how Anne Marie gave me the exact mindset shift and faith that I needed to power through it. Last fall, as many others on this island have faced recently (and are possibly still facing), my four-legged 95 pound Animal Care Center rescue pup and I were given extremely short notice to vacate our home of five years and relocate. 

In the midst of a housing shortage and crisis, I was beyond stressed and had very little hope of a positive outcome. After sharing this update with Anne Marie during one of our chats, she gifted me with the phrase, “The perfect home is mine,” and instructed me to repeat it often throughout the day and adopt it as truth. A few weeks later, a dog-friendly apartment became available. 

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The Perfect Home is Mine… Photo Permissions- Anne Bequette STJ Creative Photography

I share this seemingly minor exchange as a chance for anyone else on the receiving end of her positive perspective shifts, to sit and smile in this moment while you remember.  But I also felt compelled to share this just in case her words can help anyone reading this right now. It’s yet another way for her legacy to ripple out, help someone, and live on. 

The second exchange will resonate with many of you, and it’s regarding the storm whose five year anniversary is just around the corner: Hurricane Irma. When I was collecting the inspirational stories for my book from this island-loving community, both on and off the rock, Anne Marie’s account was one of pure resilience and hope. 

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Anne Marie Porter as featured in Healing After Irma – Photo Permissions- Anne Bequette STJ Creative Photography

I wish I had the chance to read her very own words right back to her and point out how she lived them out every day of her own life. Her words are not only helpful life reminders for us as we move forward with her loss, but they mirror the same thoughts we are saying about her today, and the legacy she leaves behind. 

Dearest Anne, “Take life by storm.”

This is the “message for today” that came up on my Page-A-Day calendar.

I immediately thought of you because you have so transformed storms of destruction and despair into messages of healing and hope. You have used your huge heart and powerful energy to save so many dogs’ lives during these challenging times. Yesterday, I saw you, once again, using your love and talent to facilitate more healing.               

Five and a half hours in a roofless shower stall holding a towel over my and my friend’s head as the cement walls blew down around us. 

Healing tears bless our brains. 

Still being together blesses our hearts.

-Anne Marie:  Healing After Irma, Page 84

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Take Life By Storm- From Healing After Irma Photo Permissions- Anne Bequette STJ Creative Photography

As life unfolded, she unknowingly, yet so effortlessly, assumed the role of being my guide in not only career related matters, but in areas of spiritual growth as well. Which brings me to the third and last especially profound exchange that came a couple years after the sudden loss of my best friend, my Father. 

Having lost him in the physical realm, I was left with so many questions. It became a mission to understand where he went…What happened to his soul?  Why could I still feel his presence in my day-to-day?  

After many enlightening conversations with Anne Marie around these questions, one day in September of 2019 in our parking lot pre-elopement meetup, she reached into her beach bag, moved aside some of her beautiful parasols and a can of bug spray, pulled out a book and placed the book in my hand. 

“Here, Girlfriend. This will give you comfort. What I suggest is opening it up to a random page any day that you wish to receive a message from a loved one who has passed on. It’s done me wonders, and now it’s yours.”

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Spreading light and love Photo Permissions- Anne Bequette STJ Creative Photography

To no surprise, the book was a spiritual text that contained an introduction from Ram Dass, a psychologist and spiritual being whose signature she shared at the end of all her emails and notes. 

Like him, she would always end her writings with “In Love, … “

As I sat to write these words tonight, I reached for the book, and did just as she instructed, randomly opened it to a page, and goosebumps spread all over my entire body. These are the words I found on that page.  And this is what I like to believe her message is to us right now: 

“Every chance that you get along your way, 

sit in as much Light as you can…

The ultimate challenge to the illusion is love. 

So love yourself. 

Love others as you love yourself

(you certainly can’t love any more than that)

Because love is love.

Once it’s there

it spreads out evenly in all directions…

Celebrate your life…bring pleasure to it wherever you can…

When you begin to blossom and glow

and dance down the street 

just because you are happy

and you know the illusion is your creation, 

and you can alter it anytime you want simply by the act of self-love,

then you are free.

You are preparing your pathway Home whenever you are ready to come. ”

Emmanuel’s Book, “Chapter 8: The Feast of Life: Creation, Joy, Abundance, Fulfillment”, Page 132

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Just as Anne Marie has led so many of you, barefoot in the sand, to the spots where she blessed your union in love, she has also led so many of us in our everyday lives with the love she always shared. Although her footprints are physically gone from the beaches of St. John’s North Shore, she has left her footprints on our hearts forever. 

Her graceful words blended with the sound of the ocean waves for the last 35 years.  And I hope and pray that the next time I go sit on the sand at Trunk Bay that I can hear her whisper to me in the wind… 

“Hey Girlfriend… the perfect Home is mine.”

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Photo Permissions- Anne Bequette STJ Creative Photography

Anne Marie, you will be forever treasured and carried on in the hearts of all who knew you. 

We will Be Kind, in your honor.

‘Til we see you again…

In Love,  Your A-Team other half


P.S. Did you know:  Fifteen years ago, Anne Marie created the famous “Be Kind” bumper sticker that adorns so many vehicles & windows all over the island as a reminder for us to be kind to each other, as well as animals. 

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There will be a future re-release of these bumper stickers but they are currently unavailable. I will keep you all posted on when and where you can purchase them. Photo- Cid Hamling

As a major animal lover and advocate, she expressed multiple times before her passing that she hopes people will “Be Kind” by adopting & caring for animals. So please contact your local animal shelters, wherever you may be.  Offer to volunteer, adopt if you can, or simply just visit and play with and bring love & light to an animal’s life. If nothing else, just simply Be Kind in honor of her.

Donations can be made in her memory to the Animal Care Center of St. John (ACC).

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Photo- St John Weddings

26 thoughts on “In Memorandum: A Love City Angel Gets Her Wings”

  1. Dearest Anne & Hilliary – Just when we have all felt there are words adequate, you provided the words so eloquently and captured Anne Marie’s essence in photographs.
    I’m so grateful.

  2. This is lovely. Thank you so much for sharing. She married us nearly 20 years ago at Trunk Bay, and her energy and spirit made it a day we’ll never forget.

  3. Awesome tribute. Although we only knew her from the day she married us on Trunk Bay, the time with her was indelibly left in our memories. As a first time groom at the age of 45, everything she said and did that day made me feel so comfortable and relaxed. She had a way of letting you know that life is good. Rest In Peace Ann Marie. David and Sunney.
    Married 10/28/03

  4. Lovely tribute to a woman who taught me more about life, love and kindness than anyone else in my life.
    I will treasure every memory of her and the most wonderful circle of friends that she shared with me.

  5. My husband and I “witnessed” a number of her weddings in the early mornings on Hawksnest beach in the past and signed several marriage certificates in our bathing suits. LOL! Years later she baptized our daughter on Maho beach. We have so many memories of her kindness and her smile. I wish we’d taken her up on her offer to renew our vows.

  6. May Anne-Marie RIP. We saw her marrying a couple at Frances Bay last June and watched in awe. Heard many nice things about her but unfortunately never had the chance to re-new our vows on the beach before my husband passed. Prayers and strength for all her family and friends, may she fly high.

  7. What a gracious and inspiring goodbye to a close friend. My wife and I love St. John because we have experienced touches of kindness and joy like this every time we visit. Thank you.

  8. We were fortunate enough to not only have Anne Marie bless us and our wedding vowels once but twice on the sands of Maho Bay over the years. Her warming smile and tender voice will be missed by all who’ve come to know her but also the Hawksbill Turtles and all the inhabitants of this beautiful paradise she referred to often as she shared her thoughts with her feet in the sand.
    RIP Anne Marie Porter!
    Dave & Katie

  9. It makes us so sad to hear about Anne Marie’s passing. We had the privilege of having her marry us in 2001 and again for our 25th anniversary last year. She embodied all of the good that comes from St. John. Her spirit remains in so many of us that she has touched. Anne Marie, you will be missed.

  10. 9/22/2000, Anne Marie married us Cinnamon Bay Beach. When we met her in the parking lot there was an instant feeling of calm. I had lost my uncle the night before we flew down to St John and this was also his wedding anniversary. He was my mother’s only brother and she was here also for our special day. At the end of the ceremony, she offered up words of inspiration. At that very moment, a small cloud passed overhead and sprinkled on us. She told me that was my uncle blessing our marriage. She was truly a beautiful soul.

  11. Sending our condolences. She married us at Caneel Bay in 2000 and she made the exchange of vows so special. Doug and Debbie

  12. We wake to this sad news this morning and although this world lost one of the best, we know God gained a one of a kind angel. Dear Anne- you are a blessing, a ray of light, a shining example of love and kindness. We were blessed by you back in October when we renewed our vows overlooking the beautiful ocean and will never forget the care compassion and time you took with our family. With love-

  13. RIP Anne Marie, We will never forget what a great human being and photographer you were back in 2019 when we got married at Trunk Bay, you took amazing pictures for us on our special day and it was just perfect! We will honor your memory by donating to the Animal Care Center on St. John!

    Love, Theresa & Jeff

  14. Dear Anne,
    Thank you for your beautiful tribute and pictures.
    Anne Marie was my soul sister and my best friend, I will miss
    her til we meet again.
    I know she is with her beloved dog Louise , Kissing the Joy!
    I will love you forever!

  15. We were blessed to be married by Anne Marie in 2009. So sorry to hear that she will not be marrying any more couples on St John, however her spirit will forever be felt. Love and Light.

  16. Thank you, Anne, for putting into words the emotions so many of us feel about our friendship with Anne Marie. She holds a very special place in my heart as she does with so many who were blessed to have had her as a dear friend. One uplifting thought I had right after her transition was that she will be there with open arms to welcome my dear Cody when it is his time to make that journey over the Rainbow Bridge. She will continue to be with us in Spirit to guide and comfort us as she always has been. Godspeed, AMP~~~

  17. I’m so glad I paused to read this beautifully written tribute of this clearly lovely person. Surely she is alive and living in the hearts and memories of all who ever knew her. ❤️

  18. Thank you Anne for writing a beautiful and perfect memorandum to Anne Marie. I also worked with Anne Marie for 13 years, 1998 – 2011 as her photographer, and girlfriend for 27 years. I too experienced many of the same things you did. Anne Marie listened and then advised with something so simple yet so so profound, exactly what I needed to hear.
    Anne Marie carried cat food and dog food in her Suzuki and fed the feral cats and stray dogs at the dumpsters. If she ever saw an animal being mistreated, she fearlessly confronted the owner. I remember the creation of her “Be Kind” bumper sticker that was her mantra.
    The wedding couples loved her and felt so at ease in her presence, she took away all wedding jitters… I loved hearing Anne Marie respond to a couple that would ask “Can you not say OBEY in our ceremony?” She always replied, “Of course, we know you will OBEY HER!” or “Absolutely I can tell that the love you have for your wife, you will always OBEY HER. So yes we don’t have to say it.” Everyone laughed!!!
    We laughed together, cried together, and I’m so grateful to have had this amazing angel and life coach in my life. Now she will be our spirit angel, for she will forever be in our hearts and souls. I’m so grateful as sooo many are to have had Anne Marie in my life. I know she’s dancing with joy, in the spirit realm, and Anne Marie will be our Spirit Angel and Guide till we meet again.

  19. Anne, thank you for writing this. We first met Anne Marie in 95 she married our friends at Monte Bay Villa. Then another set of our friends at Peace Hill before Christ of Caribbean was destroyed. Then she renewed our vows on Cinnamon on Oct. 29, 2019. She had an amazing way of really getting to know you in such a short time, that when she did your ceremony, you felt like she knew you for years.We enjoyed every moment we got to see her or spend some time talking w/ her. St. John lost another great soul but heaven has gained 2 more. So grateful to have known her. I hope someone was able to care for her dog. She had just gotten her when we met to renew our vows. We met in parking lot & she said dog is very shy around people. Being dog lovers she took to us quite well. Anne Marie locked her in the jeep w/ windows down & dog jumped out came down to our ceremony. Ann Marie then tied her leash to picnic table where she eventually got out of & was right between my husband & I during ceremony, it was such a special moment that we will never forget. RIP to our friend Anne Marie.

  20. What an amazing soul. I thought about her this morning and just found out the news. Anne will be greatly missed. She will forever be in our hearts.

    Marc & Kyna
    married on 5/21/22

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