Annie M. Forts, 49, died peacefully on May 26, 2016 surrounded by her loving family. Born in Plainfield, New Jersey on March 10, 1967, Annie came into this world with a mission to spread joy and friendship to all she encountered.
Annie’s boundless energy, poise and determination helped break down the stigmas attached to those with physical and mental disabilities. A graduate of Moultonborough Academy, Annie was a motivational speaker and self-advocate who traveled the country spreading her positive message of living on the “UP” side of Down Syndrome. Annie believed passionately in the importance of recognizing and celebrating each individual’s abilities and differences, and she shared this message with audiences large and small around the country.
In addition to spending her time as a motivational speaker, Annie believed strongly in volunteerism and hard work. She was an active member and greeter at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Meredith, a 20+ year member of and proud “tail twister” for the Moultonborough Lion’s Club, a volunteer at Moultonborough Academy, Inter-Lakes School District and Golden View nursing home. Annie found great joy playing (and winning) Bingo and mini-golf, singing Karaoke, chatting on the phone and just enjoying time with her many, many family members and friends.
Among Annie’s numerous awards and accomplishments, she was the first recipient of the International Self-Empowerment Award given by the Kennedy Foundation at the United Nations, she was appointed by former President Bill Clinton and served 3 terms on the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation, and she received the Boston Celtics Heroes Among Us Award.
Annie is survived by her loving parents Bernie and Shirley Forts with whom she lived, her three devoted siblings Brian and Carla Forts of Holden, MA; Sheri and Jim MacMillan of Meredith, NH; and Jeff and Patricia Forts of Shrewsbury MA. Annie also leaves 8 adoring nieces and nephews, Jared, Amy, Meredith, Heather, Michael, Sarah, Kevin and Kathryn and 10 great nieces and nephews. True to her old adage, Annie leaves behind more friends than there are stars in the sky.
In 1997 Annie started the “Annie Forts UP Syndrome Fund” with the support of the Moultonborough Lion’s Club. Dedicated to opening windows of opportunity through education and experience, to date Annie’s fund has raised over $325,000 towards her goal of $1M, and more importantly, the fund has helped provide enrichment opportunities to persons with Down Syndrome and to help support individuals interested in pursuing a career in Special Education.
The family is sincerely grateful to the Central NH VNA & Hospice staff. These professionals cared for Annie with the utmost respect and love in her final months. And especially thankful to Mayhew Funeral Home (www.mayhewfuneralhomes.com) in Meredith for their compassionate handling of the wake and funeral. Lastly thanking Rev. Dennis J. Audet, pastor, for his wonderful words at her funeral. Private burial will be in the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery, in Boscawen.