A day for Ann Daley

Ann Daley stands beside her 80th birthday cake, which reflects her years on the piano.

I got a bigger window into the big world of Ann Daley Sunday afternoon at her 80th birthday party.

I’ve known Ann for a few years through my work at the Bemidji Pioneer. I’m not sure when we met, but it might have been at the Bemidji Senior Center’s (now the Paul Bunyan Senior Activity Center) annual style show that was done as a beautiful tribute to the late Ann Stennes, titled “Hats off to Ann Stennes.”

I also visited with Ann when her granddaughter and a friend recorded a CD of piano music. It was then that I learned of Ann’s love for and talent in piano and her musical influences on her family.

Then there was the Senior Scene, the monthly publication for and by senior citizens that is now called PrimeTime. A while back, Ann started writing a column every month, and it grew to the point that we now usually plan to use it on the front of each month’s edition.

Ann calls me once in a while to ask questions or make a change in an article, we had lunch together once at the Senior Center, and we’ve seen each other occasionally at various functions. Plus, I’ve run into Ann two or three times during our separate noon walks (I walk with Bethany Wesley from the Pioneer, and we blog about our walks at www.trailmix.areavoices.com).

So we don’t see each other very often, but I admire the heck out of Ann Daley. She works so hard for other people, and she just never slows down. You’d think that at 80 years old, she’d feel entitled to sit back and relax, but she just keeps adding more to her plate.

She is always busy with the Senior Center, where served on the board of directors from 1999-2008 and was president for five of those years. She volunteers with Nielson Place and serves on the boards of the United Way of Bemidji Area and Northwoods Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers and Adult Day Services. She brings music to residents at Goldpine Home. And I’m sure there’s more.

Ann also works with RSVP/America Reads, through which she reads to Paul Daman’s class at Northern Elementary, where she also set up a wonderful pen pal program between the children and seniors at the Senior Center. She wrote a PrimeTime article about the program when it started, and wrote about the program again when the pen pals got the chance to meet one another. What an awesome way for kids and elders to brighten each other’s lives! That’s the kind of thing that Ann Daley does — brighten people’s lives.

Not too long ago she became a “girl singer” with Dennis Doeden and Jim Thompson — I love it! The enthusiasm that woman has should be bottled and sold. :)

I haven’t known her very long, but on Sunday I got to visit with people who have known her for many years.

This is Anne with her longtime friends. Their kids grew up together and the families are still close. Scotty is on the left and Marie is in the middle. They were both delightful to visit with. It’s wonderful when people can maintain long-term friendships with others, especially when they stay nearby for years and years. My old friends are scattered, and we rarely talk. It’s nice when we do talk, but there’s a distance there that wouldn’t have existed if we’d been around each other the way these lovely ladies and their families have been.

Ann's son played guitar while she played piano.

I met Ann’s son and daughter-in-law, both of whom work in music education, and I visited with her daughter, who was the one who invited me to the party when she asked me if I could print out some articles about her mom to put up. I was so glad for the invitation. It was a beautiful party on a beautiful day with a lot of beautiful people.

Happy birthday, Ann, and best wishes for many more great birthdays!