On October 23, 1942, parents Bob and Betty Foster and brother Robert welcomed Elizabeth Ann to their family. If they only knew how their lives would change. Ann was born in Drumright but shortly thereafter the family moved to Stillwater. She attended Stillwater Public Schools, kindergarten through high school, graduating in 1960. During these years she participated in Pep Club, Future Teachers of America, and Glee Club. She played the violin in the school orchestra, took piano lessons and dance (she loved tap), and worked as a lifeguard at the “Kiddie Pool”. Ann had many fond memories of dancing at the old pavilion at Yost Lake, dragging Main with the girls, and harassing her brother. Ann loved life. Her wit, her beautiful smile, and that twinkle in her eye helped create many friendships that would endure for years. At that early time of her life, she would admit that academics were secondary in her life. But that would change.
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In 1962 Ann married Charles “Chuck” Miller. Chuck’s job with John Deere precipitated several moves. Starting out in Stillwater, they next lived in Tulsa, then Amarillo, and finally ended up settling in Weatherford. During her time in Tulsa, Ann took flying lessons and eventually earned her student pilot’s license. Her first solo was completed with tears in her eyes but it was a proud accomplishment, tears or not.
Once settled in Weatherford, Ann and Chuck were blessed with the birth of three sons – Rob, Ryan and Nathan. Having three children in a five-year period could have been a full-time job, but Ann found time to participate in Beta Sigma Phi and PEO, to work as a teacher’s aide, and attend classes at SWOSU. For a period of time, she was the director of the pre-kindergarten class at FMC. She was a caregiver for close friends, providing rides for chemo treatments, cleaning house, and running errands. In 1981, Ann received her bachelor’s degree in education and was immediately hired by the Weatherford school system. She spent the next 12 years teaching kindergarten and second grade classes. She continued attending classes at SWOSU and in 1985was awarded her Masters of Education degree.
In 1992, Ann married Tom Gage and moved to Red Rock, OK where Tom was employed as the elementary principal at Frontier Public School. Shortly thereafter, Ann was employed by the Ponca City school system. She spent the next 12 years teaching 2nd grade at Union Elementary. Her outgoing personality, her love for children, her patience, and her unique teaching style created a most successful classroom atmosphere. During this time, a circular was sent to school employees stating that teachers could no longer hug kids and have no body contact. Ann’s response to that was to say “Well, they can just escort me to the door. If I see a child that needs a hug, that child is going to get a hug.” Twice she was selected Union School’s Teacher of the Year.
In 2004, Ann retired from public school teaching. Tom and Ann had moved to Stillwater where she enjoyed her brief participation in the Newcomer’s Club and PEO. She also became reacquainted with former classmates. She thoroughly enjoyed the monthly luncheons with the 60’s crew and especially looked forward to the Christmas parties. Christmas was her favorite season, and most years her home was reminiscent of Santa’s workshop.
About the same time, Ann took on another challenge. She started teaching at Sylvan Learning Center and this new career lasted another 12 years. She eventually became the lead teacher and became known as the “Queen Bee”. At the conclusion of teaching at Sylvan, she was presented a plaque that stated she had touched the lives of over 2000 students.
Two weeks after retiring from Sylvan in 2016, Ann underwent out-patient surgery. The surgery went wrong, and for the past 3 ½ years Ann has been confined to her home. In spite of lots of trips to the ER, countless stays in various hospitals, and lots of rehab, her incredible spirit never wavered.
This past Wednesday, November 20, 2019, Ann entered the last phase of her journey. She is in Heaven, visiting with Connor, her parents, and all the family and friends who preceded her in this journey. Words can never express the gratitude she had for all the support she received during her home care. Her brother Robert would call almost every day to offer words of encouragement, to reminisce, or just to chat. To her wonderful friends and extended family – your constant love, visits, and support were needed, and you came through. To Janaya, Ann’s Home Health Caregiver – Janaya, Ann wanted to adopt you.
Ann is free. She has been such a fighter and is now victorious.
Members of Ann’s family include her husband Tom; her sons Rob and wife Darla, Ryan and wife Marci, Nathan and his family, Brett and wife Dana, Rob and wife Brooke, and Andy and wife Lauren; her beloved grandchildren Morgan, Maggie, Laramie, Grayson, Riley, Grant, Katie, Annalea, Bowen, Tatum, and Flynt; her brother Robert and wife Jill; her sister-in-law Brenda Blundell; her aunt Bonnie Tigert; lots of nieces, nephews, and cousins; and hundreds of friends.
Ann is predeceased by her parents Robert and Betty Foster, her close friend Donna Harris, and her grandson Connor. We are pretty sure that Ann, Donna, and Connor are up to some kind of mischief!
Funeral services for Ann will begin at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at the Highland Park United Methodist Church in Stillwater, under the direction of Strode Funeral Home. A reception with light refreshments will immediately follow the funeral, then Ann will be laid to rest in Sunset Memorial Gardens.
Although floral tributes are welcomed, those wishing to honor Ann’s memory may do so by contributing to Special Olympics Oklahoma at www.SOOK.org , or by just following her example of being kind, loving, and doing your best to make someone else’s journey just a little easier.
Condolences may be sent to the family and an online obituary viewed by visiting www.strodefh.com