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Annie Glenn, widow of former Senator, astronaut John Glenn, dies at age 100 of COVID-19 complications

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FILE – In this May 14, 2015, file photo, former astronaut and senator John Glenn and his wife Annie Glenn answer questions during an exclusive interview with The Associated Press at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. The wife of the late John Glenn turns 100-years-old on Feb. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH/AP) — Annie Glenn, advocate for people with disabilities and wife of 73 years to former Ohio Senator and astronaut John Glenn, has died at age 100, a spokesperson with the John Glenn College of Public Affairs confirmed.

She died Tuesday at a nursing home near St. Paul, Minn., of complications from COVID-19, said Hank Wilson, a spokesman for the Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has ordered that United States and Ohio flags be flown at half-staff at all public buildings and grounds throughout Muskingum County and at the Ohio Statehouse, Vern Riffe Center, and Rhodes Tower Tuesday through sunset to “honor her tremendous life of service.”

“Our Ohio State community joins the entire nation in mourning the loss of Annie Glenn, a wonderful person, courageous spirit and deeply devoted citizen, mother, grandmother and loving friend,” Ohio State President Michael V. Drake said in a statement.

Ahead of her 100th birthday earlier this year, a spokesperson for the Glenn family said she was “appreciative of the continued affection and interest toward her.”

Annie lived in the public eye right beside her husband, and she never forgot her home New Concord, Ohio, a place she visited often and where her legacy will live on.

“They were truly untouched by fame,” said Annie’s cousin Jane Castor. “They were just John and Annie.”

That’s how they’ll be remembered in New Concord — as John and Annie, always together from their childhood to those historical moments

“One thing he said to her was, ‘Life will not be dull’ and believe me, he meant that,” said Castor.

Castor volunteered at John and Annie Glenn Museum, which is also John’s childhood home, and where behind each picture, there is a story.

“Well, it was an honor to be here and talk about them,” said Castor.

One of the stories shared was how in many of these public pictures Annie was seen by John’s side, but her stutter stopped her from doing any speaking.

“Nobody thought any less of her because of it,” explained Castor.

Castor said Annie was always fun, humble, and courageous because it was not until she was in her 50s that she went to get help for her stuttering.

After a three-week intensive program, Annie had made significant progress.

“She was able to call John on the phone, sorry I’m getting kind of because that was something she worked hard at and all of a sudden, she could speak,” said George St. Clair who is the museum’s board president.

A memory that he said will always stay with him.

“I’m just so proud to be a part of this community and to think that I actually knew John and Annie, that’s just something special,” St. Clair said.

One final memory for St. Clair was the milestone of Annie’s 100th birthday which was Feb. 17, a date they say she had marked on her calendar.

So they dedicated a wall for pictures of Annie at the museum and celebrated with tea. Even though Annie couldn’t make the party, this community will always cherish the time she was here.

“It was always a good time when they were here,” said St. Clair. “It meant a lot to the community to have them back.”

In 2015 Ohio State renamed a stretch of 17th Ave. on campus “Annie & John Glenn Avenue” in recognition of their service and commitment to the university.

Glenn was born in Ohio on February 17, 1920. She was by the side of her beloved husband from infancy until his death in 2016.

Their parents were best friends, and the pair met in a playpen as infants.

PHOTOS: Remembering American Hero John Glenn

Her husband John Glenn said there was never a time when he did not love Annie, and years later when World War II delayed their wedding, he told her he was just stepping out for a pack of gum.

“You know, I don’t know how that popped into my mind. When I was leaving, and it was a pretty sad time of course, I told Annie, ‘Don’t worry about it. I’m just going to run down and get a pack of gum, and I’ll be back shortly.’ Every time I had to leave to do something then after that, whether it was in the Korean War or later on or in the astronaut program, it got to be regular. It sounds rather funny and peculiar,” Glenn said.

Senator Glenn said he eventually brought Annie that pack of gum, and said, “I think to this day, she carries a little gum wrapper in her wallet.”

The John Glenn College of Public Affairs says a virtual memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 6, 2020, at 11 a.m More details will be announced once they are finalized.

Right now, the museum said it is unable to honor the life and legacy of Annie, but they say as soon as they can they will.

She is survived by her two children, David and Lyn.

Ohio leaders react to Annie Glenn’s death

Fran and I were saddened to learn of the death of Annie Glenn.  She was always kind and gracious to us whenever we saw her.
This is a very sad day for all Ohioans. Annie Glenn was certainly our most most beloved Ohioan.   She represented all that is good about our country.
And, it is impossible to imagine John Glenn without Annie, and Annie without John. They grew up together and their life-long love story was inspiring to us all.   

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine

Ohio lost a great treasure today in Annie Glenn. Annie stood strong for what she believed in and was a tireless advocate for those who needed a voice. She and John are Ohio-born heroes who we will never forget. Tina and I will have the entire Glenn family in our prayers today.

Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted

Annie Glenn has made Ohio proud all her life – as an advocate, a philanthropist, a mother and partner and as a friend. Annie will be remembered for her work to lift others up, including those who shared her struggles with communicative disorders. Her passion for helping others, along with a kind spirit and sharp wit, endeared Annie to anyone who met her. Connie and I are holding Lyn, David, Karen and the entire Glenn family close in our hearts. We are comforted that John and Annie, childhood sweethearts, are reunited once again.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) 

We lost one of the great ones. Annie Glenn was a strong woman with a gracious nature, and a dear friend of Jane’s and mine.  Her service to our state and advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities, particularly those with speech disabilities, combined with John’s legacy as an American hero and Ohio’s longest-serving United States Senator have made them a couple that will live forever in Ohio history.  John and Annie’s marriage and their seven decades of partnership have served as a model for Jane and me and countless others, and we send our condolences to the entire Glenn family during this difficult time.

U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) 

I am deeply saddened by the passing of my dear friend, Annie Glenn, devoted wife and mother, role model, and dedicated advocate for the disability community. She will always be known as the drive behind her beloved John and a shero in her own right who gave us more than a legacy, but 100 years of ‘live-acy.’ A woman of courage, Annie will be greatly missed by all those who had the honor of knowing her. My prayers are with her children, David and Carolyn, and the entire family.

U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03)

Annie Glenn may have been better known as the wife of former astronaut and Senator John Glenn, but in addition to being the hero behind the hero, she was also accomplished in her own right. She met great challenges in her life learning to overcome a severe stutter and became a highly sought after speaker. The American Speech and Hearing Association presents its annual Annie Award to an individual who exemplifies the invincible spirit of Annie Glenn, a tireless advocate for those with communication disorders. Her work at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs will long be remembered and she was widely admired for her work on behalf of those who have disabilities. She was an inspiration to students at the Department of Speech and Hearing Science at The Ohio State University, where she served as an adjunct professor. I offer my condolences to her children and grandchildren. Annie Glenn’s life of service to others, both public and private, can be an example to us all.

Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) 

Annie Glenn may be best known as John’s wife —but she was enormously accomplished in her own right. A gifted musician who turned down a scholarship at Julliard to marry her childhood sweetheart, she not only overcame a severe stutter, but later became a fierce champion and eloquent spokesperson for those who suffer from speech impediments.   Annie and John met in New Concord when they were literally toddlers —and their 73 marriage was the stuff of fairy tales and one of the great love stories of all time.  For those who knew and loved them, it simply wasn’t possible to think of one without the other.   During WW II, the Korean war and two flights into outer space, Annie patiently waited for her John to come home.   Since December of 2016, John’s been patiently waiting for his Annie.  Today, they’re both where they always wanted to be: together  —for all eternity.  God speed, Annie Glenn.

Dale Butland, former Press Secretary, Chief Speechwriter and Ohio Chief of Staff to Sen. John Glenn

On behalf of the Ohio House Democratic Caucus, I extend my sincere condolences to the Glenn family on the passing of Annie Glenn. Mrs. Glenn’s legacy will live on through her dedicated service to uplifting the needs of disabled Americans. I hope her friends and family find comfort in the 100 years of memories they have collected. Ohioans mourn alongside them today.

Ohio House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron)

Ohioans are mourning the loss of Annie Glenn. Annie and John Glenn were true partners and together for every step of their historic journey. Since the first day I met them, I never once saw them apart. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Glenn family.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper

Annie Glenn will be greatly missed. She was a tremendous role model who inspired millions of people in America and around the world. Annie lived a full life. Everyone lucky enough to have met her knows she had the interest of every single American at heart, just like John. When Annie opened up about her lifelong struggle with stuttering and how she managed to overcome it, she became an example and an advocate for Americans facing similar challenges. My thoughts and prayers are with her family today.

Ohio Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights)

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