Anne Elizabeth Steinhagen Wiley died just before sunrise, October 31, 2020 in Hendersonville, North Carolina. She is survived by her son, James and daughter-in-law, Susan of Henderson, Nevada and her daughter, Martha of Lansing, Michigan. She would have been sorry to miss Halloween, as she enjoyed dressing up and helping her children create unique costumes when they were young. A large silver cardboard robot worn by son, Jim, that was way before its time and the Campbell soup can which was lowered over her daughter, Martha’s head, may have been Andy Warhol’s inspiration…we’ll never know.
Anne was a real firecracker, born on the 4th of July, 1922 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. As a result, she was convinced for a number of years that the annual fireworks were set off just to celebrate her birthday. One of her enduring pleasures was pulling up a lawn chair to watch the local displays. Anne attended Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri for one year before marrying her Dayton, Ohio high school sweetheart William (Bill) Steinhagen in 1942. After Bill joined the Army, they were in Texas for his basic and officer training and then she drove the rest of the way across country with their dog, Smokey, to be with her parents in Fullerton, California while Bill served in the US Army in the Pacific Theater. After Bill’s discharge from the Army in 1946, they moved to Michigan where they lived in Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Royal Oak until Bill’s job with General Motors took the family to Australia in 1967 and on to England 3 years later. While living in Michigan, Anne received her private pilot’s license in 1959 and was a proud member of the 99’s – an early women’s pilots association. She and her friend, Elizabeth Schucker, participated in the All Women’s Transcontinental Air Race (AKA the “Powder Puff Derby”) and were regular participants in the annual Michigan Women’s Small Race, an air race based on fuel consumption and time proficiency over a specified triangular course. They took 1st, 2nd and 3rd and were “in the middle of the pack” other years. Ann turned her love of flying into a 30-minute slide show which she presented numerous times over the years to various civic, social and school groups. She loved to talk flying any chance she got.
Anne returned to the Detroit area in early 1972 after Bill’s death in Germany in late 1971. She remained in Michigan until 1974 when she decided to move to the San Francisco Bay area, a place that she and Bill had enjoyed visiting. While house hunting, Anne met her second husband, Ralph Wiley, and they were married in 1975. After moving a number of times in the Bay area, they purchased a motor home and began traveling around the state of California enjoying each other’s company and taking pictures wherever they went as they approached retirement. Anne had a keen eye for photography and loved taking pictures of vast vistas as well as closeups of flowers. She then catalogued and cross-referenced a slide collection of over 10,000 slides which is a testament to her organizational skills as well as her photographic ones. Anne and Ralph criss-crossed the US, checking out possible retirement locations and seeing the country in their big motor home they affectionately called “the Rig” – which was their home for almost two years, until they decided to settle in Hendersonville, North Carolina.
Anne was a proud member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood for 76 years, and served as statewide officer and eventually as president of the North Carolina State Chapter in 1995. Her granddaughter Sarah is now a 4th generation P.E.O.
Anne was a volunteer at Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville for many years, delivering mail between departments. She said it was her way of getting exercise as she walked the 2-mile route. She also volunteered at the Hendersonville Welcome Center, helping visitors find the perfect local attraction for their interests. Always one to offer her opinion, this seemed a great match for her skills. She also shelved books at the local library and got her choice of new arrivals.
Four years after Ralph’s death in 1988, Anne moved into Carolina Village in Hendersonville. Once there, she used her organizing skills on any number of committees. She served as Entertainment Chair for several years, booking events and outings for the residents. She could often be found working on a jigsaw puzzle in the resident lounge. Anne loved to fly, knit, collect and categorize stamps and to be useful. Her drive and adventurous spirit led her down paths few women of her generation traveled. She will be missed by her son and his wife Sue, daughter Martha, grand-daughter Sarah Holdren and husband Owen and great grandson Finn and step-daughters Lynn Stewart and her husband John and their son Zack and Dale Wiley, all living in California.
The family will hold a Memorial Service in Michigan when it is safe to travel and gather again. One of her requests was that Malotte’s Musical version of the Lord’s Prayer be sung at her service, so until we gather please hum a few bars to help send her off.
Anne’s favorite poem was one many pilots enjoy – High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. A few lines read “Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth . . . put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”
Cessna 8020 Tango, you are cleared for take-off, may you have a smooth flight.
Flowers are not desired, but contributions to Dementia Society of America or Cottey College at Nevada Missouri would be welcome.