Annie Glenn may have become known through her astronaut and US Senator husband John Glenn, but she created a legacy through her advocacy work and personally overcoming a communication disorder.
Sadly, Annie reportedly passed away on Tuesday at the age of 100 while living at a nursing home close to St. Paul, Minnesota, due to complications from the novel coronavirus.
“She provided an example for other women who followed to face the challenges of being part of our nation’s space program, and the stress of having spouses in combat,” NASA said in a statement.
A picture of John and Annie Glenn taken on December 01, 1983. | Source: Getty Images.
Her marriage to John ended through his death in 2016. The couple had been married for an incredible 73 years. High school sweethearts, both Annie and John, attended Muskingum College, and they tied the knot right after graduation in 1943.
Life carried on as usual as they eventually became a family of four with the addition of their son David, and their daughter Lyn to the family. However, when John became the first American to orbit Earth in 1962, everything changed.
Annie didn’t like the spotlight; it amplified her already severe stutter. But then she decided to learn how to overcome it, and underwent an intensive program at Hollins College, now called Hollins University, in Roanoke, Virginia.
She overcame her stutter, and in the process, started advocating for others with communication disorders. When John returned to space aboard the Discovery in 1998, Annie showed herself relaxed and confident in front of the camera.
Not surprising, since Annie advocated on serious and important issues and it landed her on the advisory boards of various speech and hearing, and child abuse organizations. To honour individuals that overcame their communication disorder, they created the Annie Glenn Award.
Ohio State’s Department of Speech and Hearing Science bestows an annual Annie Glenn Leadership Award - the same place she worked as an adjunct professor, and that gave her an honorary doctorate of public service in 2009.
When Defense Secretary William Cohen honoured Annie with a Medal for Outstanding Public Service in 1998, he called her “a hero in her own right,” and praised her for speaking out for those whose voices aren’t as “strong” as hers.
John was 95 at the time of his passing in December 2016, and by then had experienced a number of health-related problems, which include a stroke he suffered shortly after having heart valve replacement surgery two years before his death.
Relatedly, the world recently lost a legend in another field due to the novel coronavirus as well, when John Prine passed away.
Through his folk-country classics, John Prine singlehandedly changed the face of American roots music and sadly passed away due to complications from COVID-19 early in April at the age of 73.