Ann Frances Lietz
October 20, 1933-May 3, 2021
Ann Frances Lietz died peacefully on May 3, 2021, near to the family and caregivers who loved her dearly. She went peacefully into the Lord's embrace, aided by her loving family and caregivers at Sunrise Senior Living in Boulder, Colorado, who cared for her with love and compassion in her last days.
Ann was born on October 20, 1933 in Marcus, Iowa, to Marilyn and Lawrence Swanson. She and her older brother Robert grew up in a loving, large extended family in the farming communities of northwest Iowa. After graduation from Marcus High School, Ann left the farm to attend Iowa State University and graduated with a degree in Home Economics. With her teaching certificate in hand, she began her first teaching job in Estherville, Iowa, where she met the love of her life, Darrell Lietz, who was teaching English and coaching at the same school. As Darrell recalls, he was smitten the first time he saw Ann, by her beauty, her grace, and her gentle charm. Though she declined a second date at first, he never gave up, and they eventually married and began a life together that celebrated nearly 64 years.
Together, Ann and Darrell moved to new teaching positions in Davenport, Iowa, where Darrell taught English, coached junior high sports, and scrambled to make ends meet. Ann taught Home Economics at Williams Junior High School, and they established a home on Lombard Street, just big enough for the baby girl who would soon follow. As was the practice in those days, Ann had to stop teaching once her pregnancy was known, and she devoted herself to raising her daughter, Pamela Rene, and then their son, Christopher Scott.
When first Pamela, then Christopher, went off to college at Iowa State, Ann and Darrell were determined to provide the gift of a college education to each of their children. Ann went back to work, teaching sewing at Stretch & Sew in Davenport, Iowa. She relished the chance to use her fine sewing and teaching skills once again, this time alongside co-workers she loved and adult students who eagerly sought out her advice on fabric selection, fit and finishing. When Stretch & Sew closed, Ann took classes at Scott Community College to learn medical office clerical skills, and she soon joined the staff of an OB/GYN clinic in East Davenport. Wherever she went, she found friends and made a difference through her attention to detail and her gentle and kind nature.
Ann was completely devoted to her family. She meticulously planned, provisioned, and prepared nutritious and colorful family meals. She attended piano recitals and Little League games, watched Darrell referee basketball and football games and made sure that everyone had everything they needed to feel loved and appreciated. She watched, probably with terror, as her children flew down the "Lietz hill" on toboggans in the winter, and she never complained when their beautiful backyard grass became the neighborhood summer baseball diamond. As the family grew, Ann created rich and regular holiday experiences, sustained connections with extended family, and allowed space for her children to work, play, and explore, yet always staying wakeful until they returned safely home and established marriages, households and families of their own. She was known as a pitch-perfect mother-in-law, offering advice only when it was invited, and later became a loving Grandmother to her five grandchildren. She became particularly close to the eldest grandchild Ettie, who returned Ann's love via frequent check-ins. She delighted in every milestone and every moment big and small in the lives of each family member.
Ann was especially devoted to Darrell, and her love for him was never more evident than during the 10 years when Darrell experienced profound hearing loss. Ann was his steadfast partner, interpreting the world for Darrell, giving him hope and encouragement and sustaining him until he received his cochlear implant in 1997. Her devotion, and the challenges she faced without complaint, set an example of love and dedication to all who knew her.
Ann was well known for her flower and vegetable gardens and the beautiful pots she planted each spring. Trips to the garden center with Ann were lessons in design, color and texture as we learned the secrets of "thrillers, fillers and spillers." Lantana was her favorite annual, and she delighted in finding something new at the garden center each year. She was a puzzle master and a voracious reader of literary fiction, never failing to finish any book that she started.
Ann was a lifelong Christain and faithful member of the United Methodist Church. Along with other young families living in Northwest Davenport, she and Darrell were invited to charter a new congregation that would become Christ United Methodist Church. Later they returned to St. John's United Methodist Church, rediscovering their love of worship music and weekly Sunday school with their fellow "49-ers. Through the years, Ann taught her children to sing every verse of every hymn, participate in service projects, choirs and youth groups, and attend every church potluck. She was a devoted member of PEO Sisterhood, Chapter LH, a source of rich friendships over six decades.
In retirement, Ann and Darrell traveled extensively to encourage family and see places long deferred. They particularly relished Elderhostel trips in the continental US, Alaska and Europe, and a 50th-anniversary celebration in Hawaii.
Ann lived with the progression of Alzheimer's over the past few years, but her life remained full with Darrell, her children and grandchildren, all of whom have been able to spend considerable time with her as the disease progressed. She and Darrell lived at Ridgecrest Village in Davenport for the past several years, and the family is grateful for the care and support of the Ridgecrest community. In February, 2021, Ann and Darrell relocated to Boulder, Colorado, to be near family. Her last days were peaceful, and she enjoyed a visit to Christopher's home just a few days before her passing.
Ann is survived by her brother, Robert Swanson of Naperville, Illinois. She leaves behind her loving husband, Darrell Albert Lietz, originally from Maquoketa, Iowa and now residing in Boulder, as well as daughter Pamela Rene Berneking (David) of Lampe, MO, son Christopher Scott Lietz (Marlys) of Boulder, CO, grandchildren Ettie Berneking (Ryan Kelly), Ethan Berneking (Ashley), Emma Lietz Bilecky (Tyler), Calvin Lietz and Clara Lietz.
The family is grateful for the love and care of so many people who have lifted Ann up in her journey with Alzheimer's, supported Darrell, and encouraged all of us. A celebration of Ann's life will be held in Boulder, Colorado on June 17th at Grace Commons Church. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Ridgecrest Foundation (4130 Northwest Blvd, Davenport, IA 52806) or to the Alzheimer's Association.