Anne Marie Pruitt was an indomitable force, a tiny, fiery woman with a toothy smile that seemed to radiate an effortless love for, well, everything and everyone.
Before I was DJ Bird, before I was even remotely the man I am today (which is still under review), I met the woman I’d come to call sister while doing my best to fit my way into a community that was foreign to me.
My best friends and I would pile into my Oldsmobile with the cloth roof sagging down onto us, and we’d make a night of getting ready to go to The Wave, which is an hours-long event in your early 20s, and then spend hours dancing (or not, because I know, like, three white boy moves that are more embarrassing than endearing), while watching this blonde bomb explode with happiness and zest.
Even if you didn’t know her well, one interaction with Anne Marie was enough to make an indelible impression on you. The impression she made on my heart has stayed with me since the first time I met her, and, through strategic loitering, I was made a part of the Wave family.
The Pruitt family has always been known for their various restaurants and bars to the general public, and those that know them or have worked with them will also tell you of their devoted generosity, genuine care, and their dedication to their community. These traits were perfectly at home in Anne Marie, who wasted no time making sure you knew you were loved, or showing up in your time of need.
Every conversation with Anne Marie ended in “I love you,” even when she was screaming obscenities at you five minutes prior – which with me was more frequently than I care to admit. Ice is a very serious situation at The Wave.
She had a way of expressing herself that was infuriating and adorable and, at times, heart-breaking, and she used that unique voice to encourage those around her to do better. She felt so strongly, and she wanted you to feel strongly – especially about yourself.
The guidance, discipline, and drive she possessed flowed effortlessly to those around her, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that this person I am today would not have existed without the Pruitts tirelessly believing in me and pushing me.
In short, for better or worse, there would be no DJ Bird without Anne Marie Pruitt, her mother and father, her brother and sister, Patricia and Tommy, or their extended family, in particular Angela Summerlin.
It’s tough to pin down a woman like Anne Marie, and it is that spirit which I will hold on to for the rest of my life: fiery, quick, sharp, impossibly brave, inconceivably open hearted, free as a bird, detractors-be-damned.
The woman I had the pleasure of calling Sister, despite no blood relation, was an inspiring ally, fierce defender of her family, friends, and the business which has meant so much to not only the LGBT community, but Hampton Roads as a whole.
She was the biggest punch in the tiniest fist, and her loss is a hit that we will feel for years to come.
Anne Marie Pruitt was larger than life, and though she was slight in stature, she always stood tall. I stand now, taller than I would have been, as a testament to her love, and will forever be changed for having known her.
My sister, my friend, my partner-in-bitchery. My tiny pixie, I love you.