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Remembering a true Ohio treasure: Annie Glenn

There was a time in Annie Glenn’s life when she might have quietly chuckled at the thought that one day she would be praised as a “strong voice” for anything. She had a challenge to overcome, in that regard; but overcome it, she did.

It is telling that in the Associated Press’s announcement of Glenn’s death earlier this week at the age of 100, she was noted in their headline first as a speech advocate, THEN as “astronaut’s wife.”

And while, yes, she was the wife of the late astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn, Annie Glenn became “our most beloved Ohioan,” as Gov. Mike DeWine called her, through her relentless work on behalf of children, the elderly, those with disabilities and particularly those with speech disorders.

After enrolling, at the age of 53, in an intensive program at the Communications Research Institute at Hollins University to learn to overcome her own stutter and difficulty speaking in public, Glenn was on her own mission.

She received the Department of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service in 1998. She became an adjunct professor of speech pathology at Ohio State University in 2009. OSU now gives the Annie Glenn Leadership Award each year.

And she — and her husband — never forgot their roots. They served on the board at what is now Muskingum University, their alma mater, in their hometown of New Concord, Ohio. She was a distinguished alumni fellow in speech communications there, too.

She was a talented enough organist to have been offered a scholarship at Juilliard School (which she turned down). And yes, she was the better half who sustained John Glenn through more than 70 years of much more public heroism.

Buckeye State residents will miss Annie Glenn, as she joins John in the stars, but we must never stop being inspired by her.

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