Annie Glenn was more than John Glenn’s widow; she was a former Ohio State adjunct professor, a champion for people with communication disorders and the namesake of notable campus locations.
Annie Glenn died early Tuesday morning at a nursing home in St. Paul, Minnesota, due to complications from COVID-19, according to an Ohio State press release. She was 100 years old.
Her colleagues described her as a tireless advocate — for people with speech disabilities, for young people and for establishing the Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State with her husband, former Sen. John Glenn.
“Annie Glenn was a special kind of public hero. She conquered her own personal challenge – her speech impediment – and appropriately used her position as the spouse of a prominent public person to help advocate for others who struggled as she did. She was also just a really warm and nice person. We’ll miss her as much as we do Senator Glenn,” Trevor Brown, dean of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, said in an email.
Annie Glenn suffered from a debilitating stutter for nearly half of her life. As a result of this, she took a vested interest in Ohio State’s speech pathology program, Brown said.
“She couldn’t talk in a way that people could easily understand her,” Brown said during the Glenn College’s celebration of Annie Glenn’s 100th birthday in February. “And yet, she put herself in public settings all the time on [John’s] behalf and behalf of representing the nation’s hopes, even though it caused her great fear, anxiety, and then ultimately she overcame it.”
Annie Glenn was a former adjunct professor of speech-language pathology in Ohio State’s Department of Speech and Hearing Science, which gives a yearly award for inspirational and innovative work in the field named in her honor, according to the release. She was also awarded an honorary Doctorate of Public Service from the university in 2009 for her work to help those with similar speech impediments.
“Our Ohio State community joins the entire nation in mourning the loss of Annie Glenn, a wonderful person, a courageous spirit and deeply devoted citizen, mother, grandmother and loving friend,” University President Michael V. Drake said in the release. “Annie will be greatly missed, and we extend our deepest condolences to the Glenn family.”
In November 2015, the university renamed part of 17th Avenue, a street running through the heart of campus, “Annie & John Glenn Avenue” to commemorate the pair’s dedication to Ohio State, according to the release.
John Glenn died in 2016 at 95 years old.
The John Glenn College, initially called the Glenn Institute, was established in 1999, when John Glenn donated documents and memorabilia from his time in the U.S. Senate, his military career and from NASA, according to the college’s website. Annie and John both wanted to inspire citizenship and develop leadership.
“In just a moment spent with Annie and John Glenn, it was immediately evident that they were a team. They had known each other since childhood, and their close partnership throughout life uplifted countless Americans. Together, they helped shape the very fabric of our country. Their legacy of extraordinary public service will live on at Ohio State and across the nation,” Drake said.
Annie and John had a partnership that lasted nearly all of their lives — through two wars, two trips to outer space and two children, and because of this, she was just as much of a part of the Glenn College as her husband, Chris Adams, director of student services at the John Glenn College, said during the Glenn College’s celebration of Annie Glenn’s 100th birthday in February.
The Glenns became a fundamental part of the Glenn College, taking the time to talk to and show genuine interest in students’ lives and attending every student event they could, and expressing extreme regret when they could not, Adams said.
A virtual memorial service will be held June 6 at 11 a.m from the Broad Street Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio, and will be livestreamed at glenn.osu.edu, according to the press release.