Ann Jeffrey Silsbee has lost a lifelong resident and leader in the passing of Ann McNeil Jeffrey on January 11, 2013. Her life touched many people, and she will be deeply missed. She was born Margaret Ann McNeil in Silsbee on June 27, 1931, to Margaret and Dr. William C. McNeil. She grew up on Fourth Street, part of a close and loving community of friends and family. After graduating from Silsbee High School, she attended Hollins College in Virginia, then after her freshman year transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha and assumed numerous leadership roles. She stayed at the University to earn her master's degree and enjoyed a rewarding career as a speech therapist, working in the Houston and Los Angeles public school districts. The great adventure of her life came in 1958, when she went to Tokyo, Japan for two years to serve as a speech therapist for children of US army personnel stationed there. In the summers she traveled with friends throughout Asia, including India, Cambodia, and Nepal, at a time when few Westerners ventured there. When she returned from her time abroad, she began pursuing a doctoral degree in Asian Studies at the University of California Los Angeles, but felt called to return to the town where she was born, to live and raise children in the community she loved, near her family. She was an active member of the First United Methodist Church, the Silsbee Woman's Club, and the Literary Club. As a member of the Parks Board she was instrumental in the creation of Knupple Park. She long supported the development of the Silsbee Public Library and served as an active member of the board. Ann, along with her husband Jimmy, was a founding member of the Silsbee Little Theater and directed and acted in numerous plays and readings. She maintained lifelong friends from the many parts of her life, and was much beloved for her generosity, loyalty, and playful sense of humor. She had a keen sense of the mystery and beauty of life. Though she read and traveled widely and studied many cultures and spiritual traditions, she always returned to the anchor of her Methodist faith. She was preceded in death by her parents, Margaret Victery McNeil and Dr. William Clarence McNeil, her beloved sister Jean McNeil Ratchford and brother-in-law William Carey Ratchford, Jr., and her husband of 32 years, James C. Jeffrey, Jr. Ann often said that of the many things she had done in her life, mothering was the most wonderful part. She is survived by her daughters, Margaret McNeil Levie and Katherine Bevil Jeffrey; her sons-in-law Jeremy Levie and Doug Meyers, and by two adored granddaughters, Elizabeth Ann Levie and Rebecca McNeil Hannah, as well as her nephews Doug and David Ratchford and their families, and her devoted first cousin, John B. Victery. Visitation will be held today, January 14, at Farmers Funeral Home in Silsbee, 5-7pm. Services will be held on Tuesday, January 15 at 2pm at the First United Methodist Church in Silsbee. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to UNICEF (www.unicef.org) or to the Silsbee Public Library.
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Published in The Beaumont Enterprise on Jan. 14, 2013