Rockport, MA — Babette Amberger Bracket - teacher, gourmet cook, gardener, naturalist, swimmer, music lover, reader, writer, hostess, wife, mother and grandmother - died last week at the age of 70. She passed away in her sleep, in the home she shared with her beloved husband of almost 50 years, the late Josh Brackett.
Babette was born in New Milford, Conn., the daughter of Fritz Amberger, a master printer who had emigrated from Switzerland, and Dorothy Mark Amberger. She graduated from New Milford High School in 1960, and attended Bennington College on a full scholarship. She married Josh in 1962, moved to New York City, and finished her undergraduate education at New York University. In 1964, moved by the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the two joined the Peace Corps, teaching for two years in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where they had their first child, Anna. The Bracketts then returned to New York City before moving to Rockport, where they built a house in the woods by the granite quarry where they would live for more than four decades. Known for her generosity of spirit, Babette created a warm home for her family and a haven for their community of close friends.
A lifelong, committed teacher, Babette spent the large part of her career teaching mathematics at alternative education programs for potential dropouts throughout the North Shore. She spent the last 12 years educating middle school students at the Glen Urquhart School in Beverly. In her 47 years at the head of the classroom, she held positions at Tafari Makonnen School in Addis Ababa; a school for pregnant teenage girls in Harlem; Masconomet Regional High School in Topsfield; and, in the 1990s, Rockport High School. For years she led summer programs addressing math anxiety in girls at Mount Holyoke College. She also took her at-risk students on numerous Outward Bound wilderness expeditions in New England. She went back to school in the middle of her career and received a Masters of Education in Mathematics and Computer Literacy from Cambridge College and a Masters in Special Education from Lesley College.
An instinctive, adventurous cook, Babette taught Chinese cooking classes out of her home, was active in the Cape Ann Food Coop, and in 1975, inspired by her blueberry and mushroom-picking walks in Dogtown, wrote “The Wild Gourmet: A Forager’s Cookbook” (Godin) with illustrator Maryann Lash. Activism was a thread throughout her life, whether it was joining a class-action lawsuit for women's reproductive rights against New York state in the early 1970s; serving in the support crew for anti-nuclear protesters at Seabrook Power Plant in the late 1970s and 1980s; or joining her husband in the Rockport town water conservation movement.
She is survived by her daughter, Anna Brackett, son-in-law, William Meyer, and their children, Abigail and Sadie, of Brooklyn, New York; her son, Nathan Brackett, daughter-in-law, Kate Burton, and their children, Minna and Leo, also of Brooklyn; her sister, Anni Amberger-Warren of Richmond, Calif.; and her brother, Chris Amberger, of Petaluma, Calif. She was predeceased by her sister, Stephanie Kroninger of Little River, Calif.
ARRANGEMENTS: A memorial service for Babette will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, August 26, at the Shalin Liu Performance Center, 37 Main St., Rockport. The service will be followed by a reception upstairs with food, of course. Babette would have insisted that you stay.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to the Open Door Food Pantry, 28 Emerson Ave., Gloucester, MA 01930 (www.foodpantry.org).