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Ann Wildman Obituary - Hill Funeral Home

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Memorial Services will be held at 11:00 A.M. Friday, October 20, 2017 at The Church of The Messiah, U.M., 51 N. State Street, Westerville with fellowship and lunch to follow.

Hoping you feel the comfort and peace of Jesus now that Ann is finally home and once again with Stu. You're in my thoughts and prayers.

Linda

Linda Scott

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Obituary for Ann Wildman

Ann Wildman 1926-2017

Ann Wildman

04/15/1926 - 09/14/2017

Elizabeth Ann Bennett Wildman was a homemaker, a talented artist, and, as she jokingly would say, the mother of a basketball team of five rambunctious boys and two cheerleading girls.  Ann, a long-time resident of her beloved Westerville, Ohio, died Thursday, September 14, 2017 at Friendship Village of Columbus. She was 91.

Ann is remembered for being enthusiastic about the many small wonders of life, and particularly, for her love of nature. She imbued all of her children with a love of the outdoors. Her attention to detail enhanced the silhouettes and other paper cuttings she created for people at arts and crafts shows across Ohio.  Ann took up that hobby after she and her late husband,Stu, had sent their seven children out into the world. 

Ann was born in Columbus, Ohio on “tax day,” she would say with a grin, April 15 in the year 1926.  She was the first child of Westerville industrialist Charles R. Bennett and Louise Harsha Bennett.   Ann grew up with younger sister Jane in the Bennett home on West Broadway Avenue in Westerville, where father Charles operated Bennett Manufacturing Co. That firm, founded by earlier Bennetts in 1883, had made farm equipment, sold coal, helped generate Westerville’s first electricity, and lastly, manufactured pallets and other wood products.  After graduating from Westerville High School in 1944, Ann enrolled in DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. But tragedy struck as Ann was urgently called home in the winter of 1945 from college: she learned her only sibling,15-year-old Jane, had died after a long illness. 

In happier times, Ann married fellow DePauw student Stuart Wildman of Elmhurst, Illinois in 1947, the year before they both graduated. Like Ann’s imagination, her marriage was quite fertile: children arrived in 1948, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1957 and 1963.  The Wildmans filled a house on East Broadway, a block from Ann's childhood home. Ann put her DePauw home economics degree to good use, while Stu, who majored in accounting, joined and eventually ran the Bennett company.  Ann is remembered as a loving and energetic mother, always spreading a hot dinner atop a table for nine when Stu came home at 6 p.m. from Bennett’s. Ann gamely took all the children camping frequently to Camp Ken-Jockety near West Jefferson and to Lake Erie and to Mohican State Park near Mansfield. The trips made for lifelong memories and tales, such as a favorite involving the full-carat diamond from Ann’s wedding ring, which she discovered was missing as she packed up from camping.  A distraught Ann had the whole family scour the campgrounds for the diamond, which had its own good story: Ann helped fiancé Stu negotiate a bargain price for it in Chicago.  That diamond remained AWOL after the campsite search, and a dispirited Ann and the family rode home, where, in the driveway, while unpacking, an elated Ann found the gem in the rain trough on the roof of the car. Besides planting a love of nature in her children, Ann volunteered for the Cub Scouts and was a leader in a Girl Scout troop. She also volunteered at a church after-school program for youths.

Along the way, Ann showed some of her father's entrepreneurial spirit, raising parakeets for sale, conducting pottery classes and, later in life, creating and selling her paper creations. She also taught the art of paper cutting at classes at the Blendon Senior Citizen Center, where she was a member.

Ann stayed active all her life in organizations, among them the Westerville Art League, the American Association of University Women, the Westerville Senior Center, the Child Conservation League (Beta Chapter), and the Westerville Historical Society, which she sometimes jokingly called the hysterical society.  She was a lifelong member of Westerville's Church of the Messiah, and a member of the church’s Mary Circle. The Methodist Church and Ann’s faith were pillars in her life, comforting her in times of sadness. A monumental blow for Ann occurred in 1995 when she lost son Michael to AIDS. Amid a lifetime of being a good mom, Ann’s finest and most needed mothering came during the years she spent caring for Michael as he slowing succumbed to AIDS at age 42.  Ann repeatedly traveled to be with Michael in San Francisco, sleeping at times on a mattress in a hallway closet outside Michael’s tiny, cramped apartment.  Later, she and Stu volunteered for several years at a Columbus area AIDS support group. Ann and Stu also endured the grief of losing a second son, Kevin, who died in 2010, at age 55, of lung cancer.

The Wildman family is very grateful for the love and caring shown by Ann’s friends from Friendship Village, and from her church and elsewhere, after she was slowed by a stroke in April, 2017. The family particularly thanks the many dedicated staff members of Friendship Village and its Health Care Center who were so loving to Ann and her family in the six years Ann lived in the superb retirement community near Westerville. The family asks that those who may wish to make a contribution in Ann’s memory to donate to the Church of the Messiah’s debt reduction campaign or to the Foundation of Friendship Village of Columbus..

The family will have a memorial service for Ann at a later date, with details to be announced through Hill Funeral Home of Westerville.

Ann is survived by daughter Kathy Wildman of Grafton, West Virginia, daughter Linda Conley, Sunbury, son John (Diane) of Oak Island, North Carolina, son Charles (Terumi) of San Pablo, California and son Andy (Colleen) Wildman of Worthington, and by her brother-in-law, Neol Wildman of Camarillo, California. Ann is survived by four grandchildren, Thomas Wildman of Oak Island, North Carolina, Chase Conley and Laura Conley of Sunbury, and Jessica (Sean) Stimmel of Delaware, and by step granddaughter Laura (Michael) Hunter of Oak Island, North Carolina. She is survived by two great granddaughters, Harper Lee Stimmel and Isla Mae Stimmel of Delaware, and by three step great grandsons, Eli, Max and Leo Hunter of Oak Island, North Carolina.  Ann was preceded in death by her sister and her parents, by her sons Michael and Kevin and, in 2015, by Stu, her husband of 68 years.