Mary Ann Womack, 93, died Friday, May 3, 2019 at Pioneer Ridge Assisted Living.
She was born Feb. 18, 1926 in Junction City, Kan., the daughter of Christian J. and Vaughnie Jean Waynick Mann. She grew up in the small town of Woodbine, Kan. and often recounted memories of her childhood – from how her banker father helped debt-stretched farmers during the Depression to how she sought a part in a school play to catch the eye of a potential boyfriend to the fear instilled in her as a 6-year-old by the kidnapping and murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s 20-month-old son in 1932.
She graduated from Emporia State Teachers College and taught kindergarten in Junction City before marrying Army Maj. William J. Womack of Fort Smith, Ark., whom she met while he was stationed at Fort Riley, in 1948. She left teaching to become a full-time Army wife and mother, moving her family to assignments in Texas, Germany, Fort Knox, Ky., back to Junction City while Bill was stationed in Laos, and finally to the Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
The family moved to Lawrence in 1963 following Bill’s retirement from the Army. After his death in 1978, Mary Ann embarked on a new life, teaching herself to type and going to work first in the preview and purchasing department at Centron Corp. and then at the KU Endowment Association, where, except for a brief period, she was the receptionist from 1982 to 2003. As a “people person” with a sunny disposition, she loved her job because of the great variety of people she got to meet at her desk in the lobby.
A co-worker at the Endowment Association wrote a birthday poem for her one year, noting: “She’s a very special lady in many special ways, and through her gentle presence, she brightens all our days.”
When she retired at age 77, she said, “I’ve got to be busy, and I am going to keep on kicking!” And that she literally did, dancing every week with longtime companion Ed Fry at the American Legion and other venues to the music of such groups as John Weatherwax and his Junk Yard Jazz Band.
Mary Ann and Ed also enjoyed traveling to visit family, seeing new movies, keeping up with local and national current events and visiting with their coffee buddies in the morning at such spots as Muncher’s and McDonald’s. Other favorite pastimes included golf, long walks, gardening, reading, knitting and debating politics with her very conservative (and unpersuadable) brother. She was a member of P.E.O. and Plymouth Congregational Church.
Her lifelong love of music extended from playing the piano and organ in earlier years to keeping the beat in her final years by tapping on the seat of her walker as a pianist entertained at Pioneer Ridge.
Her world had narrowed when vision problems required the move to Pioneer Ridge, but as she’d always done, she made the most of her changed circumstances, making new friends and maintaining her optimism and sense of humor, often reminding her family of one of her mother’s favorite sayings: “By the yard, life is hard; by the inch, life’s a cinch!”
She is survived by two daughters, Nancy Brockschmidt, of Olathe, and Christine “Tina” (husband Richard) Chrisman, of Norfolk, Neb; one son, Bob (partner Robert), of Tucson, Ariz.; three grandchildren, Neil, of Omaha, Ellen, of Olathe, and Steven, of Olathe; and 13 nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by grandson Paul White, son-in-law Dave Brockschmidt, her two brothers, Robert J. Mann and C. John Mann, and her sister, Christine Zeidner.
At Mary Ann’s request, there will be no services. She will be inurned next to Bill in Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center at kualzheimers.org or may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.
For condolences, go to warrenmcelwain.com or Obituaries.LJWorld.com.