Super Senior: Edwards Smith

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 1:45 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - In a small barn in Williston, Elsa Oppenheimer and Edwards Smith have a connection. The 82-year-old Edwards is a master bowl maker and Elsa is his student. “She’s a natural,” Edwards said.

Reporter Joe Carroll: She’s learning fast?

Edwards Smith: Very fast. She’s doing things now that took me decades to learn to do.

A remarkable statement considering Oppenheimer just started turning the wooden bowls in June, shortly after her mother died suddenly.

Reporter Joe Carroll: How old was Wendy when she passed?

Elsa Oppenheimer: 73. Minutes before Mother’s Day just this year.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Is this helping with your grief of losing your mother?

Elsa Oppenheimer: Absolutely. My mom was always creative and always nurtured my creative side.

Oppenheimer and Smith meet every Tuesday. They connected almost immediately. “I came with my dad the first time I met him and I thought he was a little quirky,” she said.

She brought a piece of wood that was going to be used for her mother’s urn. Smith said the wood was no good. So off to southern Vermont they went to look for the perfect piece. They found the perfect cherry tree on land dear to Elsa.

“And knowing that it would mean so much to him that he was willing to drive two-and-a-half hours away to cut down a tree with my family just shows how connected he was,” Oppenheimer said.

And with trees come roots. Smith’s are deep and complex. “I’ve lived all over the United States,” he said. Trained as a medical doctor, he gravitated toward transcendental meditation decades ago.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Do they complement each other?

Elsa Oppenheimer: Yeah, if you’re in an automobile accident, you want a western doctor. But if you want to prevent disease, come see me. ...everybody is outstanding in something. And when we get rid of the stress, that outstanding qualities can begin to be appreciated.

Reporter Joe Carroll: He said you are the most serious student he’s had in a long time.

Elsa Oppenheimer: Ooh, you said that to me?

Edwards Smith: I did.

With a heartbreaking passing comes a rebirth. “I’m just so thankful that our paths have crossed. That he’s in my life. I think truly forever it’s changed the trajectory of my life,” Oppenheimer said.

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