Anne Faber Rows For Her Life

In 1996 — on her son’s 13th birthday — Anne Faber’s husband was killed by a drunk driver.

In one moment, her life changed forever.

She left her job as a Wall Street analyst. She moved to Westport, for its strong school system.

Yet not until Ginger Katz — a fellow member of her Norwalk Hospital bereavement support group — mentioned rowing did Anne find a reason to get up in the morning, and really do something.

Anne knew nothing about the sport. But Ginger took her to the old Saugatuck club. The very first time Anne picked up an oar was in a race.

She was hooked.

“I’d been a dancer,” Anne — now 70 years old — recalls. “Rowing seemed very rhythmic.” She discovered a talent for tempo. Today, she says proudly, “I’m known as the metronome.”

Ginger Katz (front) and Anne Faber, years ago on the Schuylkill River.

Ginger Katz (front) and Anne Faber, years ago on the Schuylkill River.

She joined Norwalk’s Maritime Rowing Club. She became certified as a coach. A trustee of the Berkshire Rowing and Sculling Society, she heads up to Pittsfield every Monday, coaching adults and giving back to her sport.

Anne is much more than a rower, of course — a committed knitter, she makes healing shawls for chemo patients through the Westport Senior Center’s Knit One, Nibble One program, and she has trained to be a pharmacy technician, learned to be a baker and chef, and earned certification as a paralegal — but it is on the water that she feels most fulfilled.

Last month, at the USRowing Masters National Championships in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Anne won 5 medals. There were over 2,000 entries from 143 clubs, and no one is believed to have earned more.

The races were 1000-meter sprints. Anne’s stash includes golds in lightweight singles and (with fellow Westporter, 72-year-old Peggy Bliss) lightweight doubles, plus a pair of silvers and a bronze. Some of those medals came rowing with 50-something women.

Anne Faber with her medals.

Anne Faber with her medals.

Her victories mean “I’ve arrived at a level of competency that makes my boat move,” Anne says. “I train all year long, so there’s some self-satisfaction too.”

But rowing has given her more than medals.

“It’s allowed me to find myself again,” Anne explains. “It’s made me someone else. I’ve seen a different part of life. I regained my feeling of rhythm and motion.”

She loves being on the river, with fish and birds. Rowing — as difficult as it is — is quiet and peaceful.

And, Anne notes, “when the boat moves quickly and efficiently, just skimming the waterline, it’s an incredible, exhilarating feeling. It’s like a Zen period in time.”

Last fall, Anne won an Over-70 race at the prestigious Head of the Charles. She hopes to return this year.

Beyond that?

“I’m still trying to figure out what to do in the next stage of my life,” Anne says. “Whatever it is, I like exploring new things and meeting new people.”

Who knows? That may lead to more self-discovery, as wonderful as the day nearly 20 years ago when Anne Faber first dipped her toes in the rowing water.

(Hat tip: Diane Lowman)

11 responses to “Anne Faber Rows For Her Life

  1. Congrats to Anne! She’s also a practicing yogi. There’s nothing she can’t do!

  2. mary schmerker

    What a wonderful report to start the Labor Day weekend with. I’m smiling. Row Anne, row. As a fellow 70 ( in my case 70+) year old I can assure you that you’ve got many wonderful years of discovery ahead of you and wisdom to share with those you meet.

  3. I met Anne 15 years ago when I started rowing at Saugatuck Rowing Club. I am so happy to see her success and fulfillment. She’s a wonderful lady. I wish her continued good luck and happiness.

  4. So very inspiring! I am tempted to return to rowing, “that most beautiful of sports” (Pierre de Coubertin)… “rowing is like ballet dancing–if it’s carried out properly, you can’t see the work being done” (Frank Read, Canadian national team coach). While it is written by Canadian Silken Laumann, “Rowing” is a wonderful book that rowers everywhere would enjoy.

  5. Wow Anne!! What a great success story. You have worked so hard over the past year and the fruits of your labor have paid in five fold!! Well done friend. You deserve it. Hugs, Mary

  6. Elizabeth Connor

    An Avalon star.

  7. Ann Faber’s accomplishments with rowing are considerable. But for many of the teachers at Staples High School, one of her greatest accomplishments was producing her son Nathan Faber. For many teachers, Nathan was one of the most memorable students we have ever seen. Nathan arrived at Staples almost school phobic but possessing rare computer skills. The teachers at Staples used his computer interests to draw the best out in him and by the time he graduated he had emerged as a highly regarded student among both faculty and peers. So congratulations to Ann. It is great to hear about her rowing. But for the teachers at Staples her real fame was found with her son. So powerful a force was he that a community service award was created by the School District in his name. So cheers to you Ann!

  8. you show ’em Anne!

  9. Maxine Shepatin

    Ann shows the traits of hard work,exploring and widening “artificial boundaries” and the willingness to “row her own boat” in all her personal endeavors!’ I am honored to call her friend and fellow teammate! She is an asset to any boat and glad to have her show her skills with the rest of us 70+ athletes!-Maxine Shepatin

  10. Met you back at RAO so many years ago. I love this article. You’re the best Anne! Hope to see you at HOCR. (That is, if I make it.)

  11. Congratulations Anne! As a 70 year old (Next January) and a former dancer, I certainly identify with your joy in the rhythm of rowing and the dedication to perfecting technique. Due to a variety of issues, I have to limit my races, but it would be lovely to share a boat with you someday. You are so inspiring.