Obituary: Margaret "Maggie" Sherman, 1950-2022 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Margaret "Maggie" Sherman, 1950-2022

Burlington woman was a pioneer in community art projects

Published February 21, 2022 at 6:00 a.m.
Updated July 19, 2022 at 4:03 p.m.

Maggie Sherman - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Maggie Sherman

Maggie Sherman, noted community artist, B&B keeper, bon vivant, beloved friend and inspiration to many, departed for her next adventure on February 16, 2022.

She was born Margaret Cohen on August 28, 1950, in Nashville, Tenn., to Beatrice (Bernstein) and Percy Cohen. After attending elementary and high school in Nashville, she attended LaSalle Junior College in Boston, Mass., and enrolled in the extensive art program at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, Calif. Maggie moved to Vermont in 1973, residing in Montgomery until 1999, when she moved to Burlington.

Maggie was a pioneer in community art projects. She described herself as “an artist who has been making art in unexpected places since 1980, provoking people to think about their lives and their values.” She helped neighborhoods, friends and strangers alike create “legacy projects” that revitalized their community and celebrated place.

  • Courtesy Photo
  • Young Maggie

Maggie had many personae, often expressed through her various art forms. “Masking Montgomery,” a face-casting and decorating project, allowed her to help that town’s residents unmask their lives and open up to each other and themselves. As Honey the Professional Waitress (eggs and advice over easy), she broke the ice at numerous corporate functions and trade shows. Her Handshake Project in eldercare facilities connected teens and seniors, creating empathy and understanding among participants.

Maggie received recognition for her casting work in the Smithsonian Magazine, the New Yorker and the Boston Globe. She was quoted as using the “get gooey and giggle approach to engage people and draw them into a process that breaks down barriers, opens up the lines of communication, and gives people the courage to speak from their intuitive voice.”

It is from this voice that change occurs and leadership grows, Maggie believed. Her workshop participants spanned social and economic milieu, from maximum-security prisons to corporate boardrooms.

Maggie gathered around her a large community of friends and fans — artists and philosophers, hikers and swimmers, dancers, travelers, and fellow creative spirits. She was known for her ready smile and laughter; bright-red lipstick; quick wit and deep, intuitive responses; community building; and loyalty. She loved to travel, tango, meet new people and explore diverse cultures. She enjoyed playing mah-jongg with friends and, while looking at her tiles, would frequently ask rhetorically, “What is the universe trying to tell me?”

Maggie and Honey - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Maggie and Honey

Maggie was outspoken on any issue that might come up; you always knew her opinion. But she was also interested in what others had to say. She listened carefully and respected everyone, regardless of age or situation. She liked to learn from others as much as her friends enjoyed learning from her. She had, among other things, abundant knowledge about cleaning products and household repairs.

Maggie opened One of a Kind Bed & Breakfast on Lakeview Terrace in Burlington in 2004 and quickly became known as the “Contessa of Comfort.” She described One of a Kind as “eclectic vernacular Victorian with a bit of Arts and Crafts.” Guests could enjoy her lovely garden overlooking the bluff out to Lake Champlain. Maggie’s friends and family, too, enjoyed many spectacular sunsets — and cocktails she called “tiny ’tinis” — while sitting at the edge of the bluff.

Maggie was also a community activist, rallying Lakeview Terrace residents for block parties, Shakespeare in the Street performances, yard sales and other events. She welcomed newcomers to the neighborhood and, continuing a practice that started when she was 6 or 7 years old in Nashville, she visited neighbors to learn who they were and what was going on in their lives. And then she kept them close.

Maggie Sherman - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Maggie Sherman

Maggie is survived by her son, Andrew Sherman (Katherine Koriakin), and her grandson, Landon; her sister Henni Cohen (Lee Trucker); her brothers Bill Cohen (Sharon McDonald) and Henry Cohen (Nancy Friedman-Cohen); her niece and nephews; cousins too numerous to name; and her cat, Miss Marble. She was predeceased by her French special companion, Gérard Rubaud.

A celebration of Maggie’s life will be held in the late spring in Burlington.

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