Anne Byers Connally Varni, 75, Washington, passed away Friday, July 11, 2014, at Mercy Hospital Washington, of heart complications. |
Education and Family Life
Anne was the only child of Silas and Elizabeth Connally, nee Byers, born Sept. 4, 1938, in Spartanburg, S.C. Raised in Florida, she graduated from Coral Gables High School, in 1956. She earned her registered nursing (RN) license in 1959 from Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, Fla.
Anne and her parents were active members of United Methodist Church, Coral Gables, Fla., where in 1973, she was united in marriage to Charles Edward Varni, a native of Guntersville, Ala.
They laughingly shared with family and friends that after their unusual courtship, they were definitely meant to be. Anne and Charles' relationship included an initial blind date at a football game on the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination, a yearlong romance, a breakup of nine years, and finally their reunion, engagement, marriage and move to Missouri. The tale of two Southern Protestants becoming Midwest Catholics was quite an adventure.
Anne and Charles settled in Washington to be near their close friends Dr. John Post, who served in the Army with Charles, and his wife Marianne. Anne's parents moved to town soon after. The couple had three daughters, Anne, Mary and Janet.
In Anne, her children found not only a caring mother, but also a friend, confidante and counselor. Advice ranging from "Don't let the person behind you determine how you drive," to "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all," is still treasured by her daughters, and passed down to Anne's grandchildren.
While raising a family, Anne worked as a part-time RN at St. Francis Hospital (now Mercy). Her 44-year nursing career spanned three states and various hospitals. She worked as both an ER and medical/surgical nurse in Florida, Colorado and Missouri.
Her former colleagues shared how Anne was often the go-to nurse on staff for advice and care. She also was known for encouraging aspiring and new nurses to complete their training and degrees. Former patients praised Anne's patience, diligence, positive attitude and friendliness toward themselves and their families.
One of her proudest achievements as both a mother and nurse was when her youngest daughter, Janet, followed in her footsteps. Janet currently serves as a clinical nurse coordinator at Washington University, St. Louis.
Anne served 25 years at Mercy Hospital Washington until her retirement Jan. 1, 2004. Her retirement was devoted to her family, especially her six grandchildren. Known as "Ya-Ya" to her grandkids, Anne delighted in giving presents and listening to their young hopes, dreams and activities.
Volunteering and Interests
In addition to her nursing career, Anne was active in St. Francis Borgia (SFB) Parish, becoming Catholic at the Easter Vigil Mass in 1986. She volunteered as a Communion minister and pre-marriage couples counselor with her husband, Charles. They especially enjoyed helping those of different religious denominations understand the Catholic faith and build solid foundations for marriage.
Anne also was a Girl Scout troop leader for her daughters at various times while they attended SFB grade school, and served as treasurer of the SFBRHS music association.
Anne's hobbies included reading, bowling, watching sports, hosting game nights and traveling. One of her most memorable trips was chaperoning the SFBRHS band, of which her oldest daughter was a member, to the 1989 presidential inauguration parade in Washington, D.C. In 2002, Anne also joined the SFB parish choir on their tour of Italy, which included singing for the late Pope John Paul II in Rome. During that trip, Anne provided personal first aid and nursing care to her former pastor, Father Jack Costello, after he broke his arm.
Funeral and Memorial
Anne was preceded in death by her parents, Silas (1982) and Elizabeth (1997).
She is survived by her husband, Charles Varni; three children, Elizabeth Anne Hanneken and husband Benjamin, Villa Ridge, Mary Lovee Varni, New Haven, and Janet Leigh Sokolich and husband Philip, St. Louis; and six grandchildren, Noelle Hanneken, 10, Bridgette Hanneken, 8, Ryan Hanneken, 6, Ian Sokolich, 6, Marianna Sokolich, 3, and Maezy Sokolich, 13 months.
Friends and extended family were received from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday, July 14, at Miller Funeral Home, Washington.
A funeral Mass was held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 15, at St. Francis Borgia Church, with the Rev. Joseph Wormek, Monsignor Jeffrey Knight, the Rev. John Mayo and Deacon Leon Noelker officiating.
Anne's family extends their appreciation to the many friends who served at the Mass. Music was provided by the SFB choir, directed by Paige Byrne Shortal, Union, and accompanied by Lucy Tobben, organist, Nora Bellows, violinist, and Katie Alexander, vocalist, all of Washington. Readers were Nancy Struckhoff, Washington, and Teresa Huxel, Union.
Altar servers included Dick Schwane and Bill Gegg, both of Washington. Communion ministers were Mike and Carol Hanneken, both of Villa Ridge. Pallbearers were Anne's two sons-in-law, Benjamin Hanneken, Villa Ridge, and Philip Sokolich, St. Louis, and Joseph Luechtefeld, New Haven, John Struckhoff, Washington, Charles Post, Quincy, Ill., and Bob Post, Pacific.
Interment followed in the church cemetery.
Memorials to St. Francis Borgia Regional High School (www.borgia.com), or St. Francis Borgia Parish (www.sfbparish.org/) are gratefully appreciated by Anne's family.
The Varni family was served by Miller Funeral Home, Washington.
Published in The Missourian on July 26, 2014