By Mona Stephens
One emotion no human being can escape is the grief that accompanies a deep loss. The experience can be earth-shattering and set a person’s entire being ablaze. With time the pain lessens and for some, they rise from the ashes of their sorrows like a phoenix. They then step into their full power again and often have a new or a regained sense of purpose.
Ida Kendall, a Prescott local, is that phoenix. She’s an inspirational woman from her personal life, to her career, to her philosophies. She’s a woman who “turned a grievous loss into a community building place,” as her friend Jameson Thompson would say. So, who is Ida Kendall? How is she impacting the community as a whole? How did she turn a loss into a living legacy? The answers are guaranteed to pluck at your heartstrings and make you proud to reside in Yavapai County. Here is the story of Ida Kendall, a woman people who know her say is “a lantern in the dark.”
Long-standing residents of Yavapai County may know Ida Kendall as a happy-go-lucky artist, filled with passion, who owns The Frame and I and The Art Store in downtown Prescott. Just by stopping into her shop, you get a sense of who she is. She comes across as a gracefully vibrant, calm, and sincere being; but there is so much more to her than meets the eye.
Ida’s parents moved her and her sister Anne to Tempe from Washington when she was four. The family soon moved to Prescott three years later, to escape the oppressive heat. Her parents ended up purchasing 1 ½ acres of land and turned it into a mini-ranch. Thus, Ida grew up taking care of all the “pets she didn’t ask for” but loved.
Ida’s daily life consisted of tending the animals, school, and later: work. In her words, she never “got into trouble” because she had to take care of classwork and the “critters” and she didn’t “have much time for anything else.” However, despite the demands of the farm, she always found time for art. “Drawing has been something I enjoy and always have done. It’s kind of like a language for me. It’s a way for me to always express myself. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t do art, it’s like asking when you started speaking.”
That passion for art helped her get hired by her soon-to-be business partner, Kathleen Roeth, at The Frame and I and The Art Store in 1995. When the opportunity for young Ida came up to buy the business with Kathleen, they jumped on it. Ida left Yavapai College and used the rest of her college fund to invest in her new business. She has run it ever since and loves it.
The framework for Ida’s life is that every day she gets to approach her canvas (in life or art) to create something new and meaningful. She gets excited when she gets to work with people to frame their stories. Yet Ida says she’s “in the business of preserving things and keeping them from becoming lost or forgotten.” She also believes; “If you can do anything at all make it last, and make sure it has meaning.” She lives and breathes these philosophies in her daily life.
Framing Ida’s impact on the community
As stated, Ida’s framework for life involves creating meaning things, in art or in general, capturing the essence of a person’s story, and preserving it so it doesn’t become lost of forgotten. Ida shows up this way in the community every day. Her belief that “wherever you live, you should work to change it for the better,” is evident in her every move. The Frame and I has donated to countless charities in Prescott and around Yavapai County since the 90s. She does this because it deepens the purpose of her work. It allows her to have a hand in the change that needs to be made in her community. She mostly donates to sustainable causes she feels passionate about or that a bring variety and diversity into the town.
Ida has also served as a member of the Prescott Sunup Rotary club for 7 years and absolutely enjoys it. When asked about the Club, Ida replied, “I love Rotary’s vision of peace, friendship, community and prosperity! We do service projects around town and raise money for scholarships for local students.” She’s helping to create the change she wants to see in her community, step by step.
The Phoenix rises
Now that you know all about Ida and the impact she is making in the community, let’s end with her story of transcending grief, and framing the essence of another’s dream so it becomes a living legacy of the human and their passion.
About 2 years ago Ida’s sister, Anne Roberts, passed away. Anne lived in Cottonwood and was a youth services librarian passionate about kids and reading. In her spare time, Anne wrote grants and fundraised for St. Joseph’s School (now Immaculate Conception Catholic School) in Cottonwood because many of the schoolkids needed help with literacy and reading, and they didn’t have a library. Although Ida stated their library at that time was a “little closet with some books, some brooms, and some black widows,” Anne died before she could actualize her dream of helping this school.
After Anne’s funeral calls started to trickle in with people wanting to donate books and funds to a cause in her name. Ida and her family rose out of the remnants of their heartache with a way to frame her sister’s dream so that it may not be forgotten, and leave a lasting impact on the children Anne cared dearly about.
With the help of her family, Ida created the Anne C. Roberts Memorial Library in Anne’s honor, at Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Cottonwood. To date, over 3,500 books have been donated to the library. They are still looking for more donations, especially S.T.E.M. books for 1st through 8th grade levels. Book donations can be dropped off at The Frame and I, 229 W Gurley St., in Prescott.
The family hopes to one day help more schools and become the Anne C. Roberts Memorial Foundation. When asked about the project, Ida said, “It’s been a good project for us and has helped us to heal from our loss. She had a huge heart for kids and reading. We just want to keep that alive.” Ida’s story is such an inspiration that sheds light on why her friends would call her “a lantern in the dark.” She is always creating something new and meaningful while preserving the past, so that it shall never be forgotten. Therefore, Ida Kendall deserves to be “framed” with this article, so her life, mission, and right actions may live on and never be erased from the timeline of Yavapai County.
For more about the Anne C. Roberts Memorial Library contact them at:
Immaculate Conception Catholic School Attn: Anne C. Roberts Memorial Library 750 N Bill Gray Rd Cottonwood, AZ. 86326 iccs-k8.org
Mona Stephens is a Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA), from Pennsylvania, who has a passion for marketing, writing, and helping people.
The Frame and I is located at 229 W. Gurley St. Prescott, AZ. 86301 frameandi.com. The Art Store is located at 537 6th St. Prescott, AZ. 86301 prescottartstore.com.
IMAGES FROM TOP: Photo Ida with Frame, Drawing Fox and Drawing Piercing Gaze(Owl) art by Ida, Photo Ida and Frame & I crew, Photo Ida and Anne(Sister), Photo Ida and Edith(Mother), Tree of Life art by Ida. All images courtesy of Ida Kendall.