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  • Prison Performing Arts


Updated: Dec 28, 2020

This tribute was written by PPA Alum, Hazel, and shared with her permission. She is pictured below in a production of "The Dayroom Club" at WERDCC while an incarcerated artist, and then as a returning citizen with her children.

They say that people come into your life just when you need them most. Agnes is a prime example of that in every sense of the word. Agnes came into my life with those iconic glasses when I thought I couldn’t see a foot in front of me. She always kept me looking forward.

The day I learned of her passing was also the day I learned that in just a short time my husband and I would be moving halfway across the country to New York (almost Canada). We would be nestled in the North Country among the beautiful mountains and bordered by the Great Lakes … those Great Lakes that had just taken my beacon of sanity from me.

As the days passed I grew anxious and unsettled about all the change. Then as I got ready for Agnes’ memorial service I watched as my pregnancy test showed that ever-telling double line. No glasses were needed to see second line. So, as I drove across St. Louis, I thought of all the ways I would tell Agnes that I was going to do it. I was going to teach someone to stand up and talk with purpose the way she taught me. I was going to teach someone that it’s perfect to be you; and when you mess up, try it again and again and again.

Life and pregnancy went on as time continued to turn. On Agnes’ birthday, we learned that with the loss of an amazing woman, the World would be gaining another hopeful female to shape the World. With happy hearts we started thinking of names for our baby girl. It was clear - almost written in the stars - that her name must include Agnes.

On a brisk day in June, our Scarlett Agnes joined all the women who will be shaped by the Great Agnes Wilcox. She may never meet her namesake in this life but my hope is that she learns all the teachings that Agnes gave to so many, myself included.

Now, as Scarlett ages, we have spent many hot summer days playing in the Great Lakes, and I often think how fitting that it took something so great and vast to dampen Agnes. And as the water kisses the sand, Scarlett Agnes stands tall and yells to the water to get back as she tries to protect her toes from the brisk waters.

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