Obituary for Ann Carol Churchill (Pelletier)
Ann Carol Pelletier Churchill died on December 23, 2017 surrounded by family at home in the Senior Community of Waverly Gardens, North Oaks Minnesota. Ann was 86 years old, and a resident of Green Valley Arizona and Mackinaw City Michigan. Ann was born June 24, 1931 in Waterbury Connecticut to Arthur Pelletier and Hildegard Allen Pelletier. She excelled at school, graduating early from Craftsbury High School by age 16. She then attended the University of Vermont where she met the love of her life, John Winston Churchill in 1948. Ann completed a highly respected 2-year program at Katharine Gibbs School in Providence Rhode Island in 1951. Ann became engaged to John at Walden Pond in 1950 and they were married in Essex Junction Vermont December 29, 1951.
After their honeymoon in Montreal, Ann and John moved to Ann Arbor MI, where they lived from 1952-1953. In addition to working for the head of the neuropsychology department, Ann served as John’s chief editor and typist while he completed his master’s degree at the University of Michigan. Following John’s graduation, they moved to Washington D.C. where Ann worked for a psychiatrist during their years there. Ann, John and their first dog Brock became avid fossil hunters scouring the beaches and cliffs near the Chesapeake Bay, donating a prehistoric tapir’s jaw to the Smithsonian and collecting a large number of fossilized shark’s teeth, which remain a family treasure.
Over the next four decades, Ann and John moved across the United States, largely for John’s promotions and work. Ann seized every opportunity to immerse herself and her family in the cultural differences of each new location, learning about recipes, architecture, design and artworks of each region of the country. “Home is where you hang your hat” became the family motto often quoted by Ann. She exemplified a positive attitude and adventurous spirit and took the moves around the country in great stride.
Places John and Ann lived: Tyrone, Pennsylvania 1956-1963, with the birth of Nathan and Julie South Boston, Virginia 1963, with the birth of Martha Roseau, Minnesota1964 Gaylord, Michigan 1964-1971 Lufkin, Texas 1972-1973 Dunwoody, Georgia 1974-76 Fairfield, Connecticut 1977-1982 Gaylord, Michigan 1983-1987 Alpharetta, Georgia 1988-1996 Mackinaw City, Michigan – 1997 to present; after John’s retirement, the snow bird years were split between Mackinaw City and Arizona Sahuarita & Green Valley, Arizona 2006-present North Oaks, Minnesota 2017
In addition to supporting John throughout his career, Ann devoted herself to caring for her family, assuring the kids were well educated and nurtured through their many interests. Ann wanted a large family and will be forever remembered and revered for her nurturing spirit. She was a ‘mother’ to many more than her own three children, often serving as mentor and ‘second’ mother to her children’s friends (even into their adulthood) and her children’s spouses. She was an inspiration, advisor and ‘rock’ for all who knew her. Ann had a way of seeing the best in everyone, often more than they saw in themselves, inspiring them to live up to their potential. She was known for her love of adventure, trying new things, seeing joy around her and finding humor every day. She loved to laugh, pledged to do so each and every day, and usually found a way. She loved her dog Rip not only because he was devoted to her but also because "he makes me laugh."
Ann had a keen sense of community and generosity, giving her time and talents along the way. She was active in the First Congregational Church in Gaylord Michigan serving on several committees, as a Sunday school teacher, and as a seamstress making many authentic pilgrim costumes for the Pilgrim services each fall. She volunteered at the children’s schools whenever there was a need to be filled. In her later years, she volunteered with the Women’s Club and for Church of the Straits in Mackinaw City. In Arizona, she helped with Good Shepherd United Church of Christ’s Women’s Fellowship, which managed the Estate Sales that support various community causes including St Andrews Children’s Clinic in Nogales, AZ. In Minnesota, she served those in need through Loaves and Fishes and Feed my Starving Children with the United Church of Christ in New Brighton.
Ann was artistic and constantly doing something creative, be it sewing, folk art, theorem painting or hooked rugs. And throughout her life, she continued taking on new challenges and artistic projects. She will be remembered for designing and sewing clothes for her girls and Halloween costumes for the family. She applied herself to various painting techniques ranging from tole painting, reverse glass, stenciling, murals and theorem painting. She knitted sweaters and hats for everyone in the family, including a few notorious ‘pinkpussy’ hats in spring 2017. She also knitted blankets for those in need. Ann took immense pleasure in studying early American hooked rugs, first hooking authentic designs and then branching out with her own designs. When asked about her hobbies, she loved to shock people by telling them she was a hooker.
With each move, Ann took great delight in the design of each home, creating a unique fusion of family heirlooms, traditions and local culture, recently collecting Jimmy Yellowtail paintings and making crosses from Saguaro ribs and copper wire. She will be remembered for her boundless energy and life force. Ann supervised and modified the design of the summer cottage in Michigan, which features her artistic talents: a mural, several reverse glass paintings and stenciled walls. Upon John’s impending “retirement”, Ann designed and directed the building of the “big” house in Mackinaw, styled after an 1800’s Vermont country farmhouse featuring a triple Rumford fireplace. She paid attention to every detail trying to assure the house would be accessible if ever their needs increased with age.
Ann spent summers in Mackinaw with Nate, Julie and Martha, then added her nephews Danny and David Stevens during their school years, and later with her grandchildren. Mackinaw remains the family gathering place each July and August. Ann so loved her time in Mackinaw. One of her favorite things was leading every child, grandchild and all their friends on many walks along Esther Lane, Headlands and the beach. Before anyone knew what was happening, Ann would impart both her knowledge and passion for the land, the wild berries and the wildflowers. “Don’t’ pick it, let it grow”, they all heard and learned to respect and protect the wild flower species. Ann marked the seasons by the flowers and the angle of the sunset along the beach. These Mackinaw moments with Ann live on in the hearts of all who walked with her.
Ann is survived by her husband John W. Churchill, her children Nathan John Churchill, Julie Ann Churchill (Michael Henson), Martha Elizabeth Churchill (Peter Van Buren); by her grandchildren Andrew John (AJ) Churchill, Arthur G. Churchill, George C. Henson, Henry C. Henson, Eleanor (Nora) C. Henson, Jacob (Jake) C. Van Buren, Elliot (Eli) P. Van Buren, Tessa A. Van Buren, and her beloved dog Rip.
Ann was predeceased by her parents Arthur and Hildegard Pelletier.
The family wishes to thank Heidi and Gary Geroux, Ed Trudeau, Liz Hastie and William Loner, Julie and Pat Mousseau, and Edna Whern for their enduring friendship and loving care.
A memorial service, celebrating Ann’s life, will be held in the summer 2018 (TBD).
In lieu of flowers, the family has chosen donations to either Brain Cancer Research at Mayo Clinic or The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ.
See information below if you care to donate in memory of Ann. Brain cancer research at the Mayo Clinic. To donate online, please use the following link: https://philanthropy.mayoclinic.org/donateMC
1. Under "Donation Information", click the drop down menu labeled "Designation", then choose "Other" at the bottom of the list
2. In the next box under "Additional Information - Other Designation", please type "brain cancer research" 3. Fill in the rest of the form and at the bottom, under "Tribute Information", select "in memory of" and type in Ann Churchill.
To mail a donation, please use the following form: http://www.mayo.edu/pmts/mc2500-mc2599/mc2581-26.pdf?_ga=1.204163216.1841843544.1406147374
Good Shepherd United Church of Christ 17750 S. La Cañada Dr. Sahuarita, AZ 85629 Memo line: Women's Fellowship Treasury in remembrance of Ann Churchill