Annie Glenn, widow of the late Ohio senator and astronaut John Glenn, has died at age 100 after contracting COVID-19.
A spokesperson for the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University confirmed to the Associated Press that Glenn died at nursing home in Minnesota on Tuesday morning from complications related to the coronavirus.
Annie Glenn had been married to former Sen. John Glenn (D), who was the first American to orbit the planet, for more than seven decades until his death in 2016. The two had met as toddlers in the 1920s and grew up together before becoming involved romantically in high school and getting married shortly after.
According to Glenn College, Annie Glenn majored in music at the Muskingum College in New Concord and was later offered a scholarship to attend the Juilliard School. She eventually rejected the offer, however, after her husband went on to serve in World War II and they had children.
Glenn suffered from a stutter for much of her life before she began attending classes at the Hollins Communications Research Institute in Virginia in the 1970s, according to Glenn College. Her improvement there later prompted her to become an advocate for others suffering from communication disorders.
She eventually became a teacher with the Speech Pathology Department at Ohio State University’s Department of Speech and Hearing Science, the school said.
To honor her legacy, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) on Tuesday ordered U.S. and Ohio flags to “be flown at half-staff upon all public buildings and grounds throughout Muskingum County, and at the Ohio Statehouse, Vern Riffe Center, and Rhodes Tower until sunset on the day of her memorial service.”
Trevor Brown, who serves as dean of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, said in a statement that "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," he said. "She was also just a really warm and nice person. We’ll miss her as much as we do Senator Glenn."
JoAnn Donohue, who assistant clinic director of the Speech Pathology Department, said that "for many years, Annie served as a guest lecturer for graduate student courses and maintains contact with people afflicted with a stutter."
“She was very open about her stuttering. She is such an inspiration and she had this wonderful ability to communicate on any level, whether it was a four-year-old or a teenager who was very upset and embarrassed about their speech. One such awestruck teen, emerging from a meeting, swore he’d never wash his hand again after Annie shook it,” Donohue added.
Glenn's work led the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association to name an award named after her: The Annie, which in recent years, has been awarded to the likes of James Earl Jones, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFighter jet escorts aircraft that entered restricted airspace during UN gathering Julian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy FBI investigating alleged assault on Fort Bliss soldier at Afghan refugee camp MORE and Mick Fleetwood.
Glenn’s alma mater also extended condolences to the Glenn family in the wake of her death, with Dr. Susan S. Hasseler, president of Muskingum University, saying in a statement that the school’s community “was extraordinarily privileged and proud to know her as a loyal alumna, a trustee, and a distinguished alumni professor.”
“Her lifelong commitment to serving others led to her dedicated efforts to improve the lives of people with disabilities, of the elderly, and of children,” Hasseler said.
According to Glenn College, a virtual memorial service has been scheduled for June 6.
"The memorial will be virtual with no parishioners or guests in attendance due to the COVID-19 restrictions," the college said.
—Updated at 2:39 p.m.