Obituary: Oda Hubbard, 1925-2022 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Oda Hubbard, 1925-2022 

Longtime Shelburne resident was among Harvard's first female architecture students and retained her love of design until death

click to enlarge Oda Waller Hubbard - COURTESY
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  • Oda Waller Hubbard

Oda Waller Hubbard, a longtime resident of Shelburne, Vt., died on Thursday, February 3, 2022. She was 96 years old and lived independently.

Oda was born in Hilversum, Netherlands, on August 17, 1925, to Jacob Marinus Waller, a Dutch engineer, and Caroline Warner Schoverling of New Milford, Conn. Oda studied horticulture at the Tuinbouwschool Huis Te Lande institute and, following the Nazi occupation of Holland during World War II, immigrated with her parents and sister to the U.S. in 1946. She attended Harvard University Graduate School of Design, first in landscape design before transferring to architecture, where she was among the first female architecture students at Harvard. At Harvard, Oda met her husband, fellow architecture student Charles Joseph Hubbard. In 1956, the couple moved to Burlington, where Charlie established his architecture practice with Barr, Linde, Hubbard Architects. In 1961, the couple designed and built a home in Shelburne, where they raised their four children. Charlie died in 1989.

While Oda never practiced architecture professionally, she loved design and put a great deal of thought into the visual experience, both in her gardens and her home, where she created beautifully balanced interiors of antiques and midcentury-modern style. Oda brought her talents to her work at Shelburne Museum, where she volunteered for many years in special collections.. From 1993 to 2015, Oda served on Shelburne’s Historic Preservation and Design Review Commissions, where she was recognized for “her commitment to attractive, contextually appropriate and sensible (or shall we say, 'not too fussy'?) design.” Oda retained her love for design until her death and liked nothing better than to be driven around to look at old and new buildings and critique façades, window placements and roof lines!

Both Oda and Charlie were very keen to preserve Vermont’s woods and farmland and worked with the Nature Conservancy to add 100 acres of their property to the conservancy’s land to the west of Shelburne Pond in the 1970s. They donated nearly 100 acres to the Vermont Land Trust in the 1980s.

Oda was committed to a progressive education for her children and was a very involved parent in the early days of Burlington’s Overlake School and the Children’s School, the Schoolhouse in Charlotte, and the Alpha program at the Shelburne Middle School. Oda also took a great deal of interest in all of her grandchildren’s education.

Oda remained “very Dutch” throughout her life with a progressive, down-to-earth view of the world and old-world reserve. She remained connected to her Dutch family still living in the Netherlands, and until her death she would sing Dutch patriotic songs before getting out of bed in the morning and liked nothing better than a bit of Deventer Koek spice cake and a cup of tea in the afternoon. A few days before she died, Oda, a keen reader of archeology and history, was deep into a 1920s German-language account of the Bolshevik Revolution, amazed that she could still read in German at 96.

Oda’s wisdom, interest in others and cheerful outlook on life enabled her to form relationships with people of all ages. In the last year of her life, Oda continued to connect with others whenever possible and, in doing so, made several new and wonderful friends.

Oda is survived by her four children and their spouses, David Hubbard, Alexandra Hubbard and Michael Gourlay, Alice Hubbard and Christophe Lissarrague, and Jonathan Hubbard and Merrill Buice. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Carson Hubbard; Sebastian, Nina and Markos Lissarrague; Alexandra Hubbard-Gourlay; and Caroline and Wynant Hubbard.

A garden celebration of Oda’s life will be held in early June. Gifts in her memory can be made to the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS), Shelburne Farms, the Vermont Land Trust and Camp Glen Brook in Marlborough, N.H.

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