Annie Glenn, Speech Therapy Advocate And Astronaut's Wife, Dies At 100

Annie Glenn passed away due to COVID-19 complications. [American Speech-Language-Hearing Association]
Annie Glenn passed away due to COVID-19 complications. [American Speech-Language-Hearing Association]
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Iconic Ohioan Annie Glenn passed away Tuesday.

An advocate and educator for people with communication disorders and the widow of astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn, she celebrated her 100th birthday in February.

She died of COVID-19 complications at a nursing home near St. Paul, Minn.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered flags in her home state to be flown at half-staff in her honor.

“Annie Glenn was certainly our most, most beloved Ohioan. She represented all that is good about our country,” DeWine said Tuesday in a statement.

The John and Annie Glenn Museusm is located in their hometown of New Concord, Ohio. [John & Annie Glenn Museum]

Glenn struggled with a severe stutter throughout her life. It caused her to initially shy away from the media – tough to avoid in 1962, the year her husband became the first American to orbit the Earth.

After going through speech and communications therapy programs, Glenn was better able to control her stutter and move past her diffidence for public speaking, and eventually become an advocate for such programs in Ohio and across the country.

"I didn't realize I was not like everybody else until the sixth grade. I was asked to recite a poem. So, I got up and started and one of the boys laughed. And I knew then I was not like everybody else," Glenn said in a 2012 interview with The Ohio Channel. 

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) remembers her as an inspiration for people with communication disorders. ASHA gives out the Annie Glenn Award – more commonly referred to as “The Annie" – annually to an advocate who has made strides for communication-related matters.

"She is just I think a shining example for all of us about someone who is gracious and kind and witty and just inspiring about persevering until you are able to do the things that are really important to you," ASHA CEO Arlene Pietranton told ideastream.

Past winners of The Annie include actress Julie Andrews, former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband astronaut Mark Kelly, and actor James Earl Jones, who was the first recipient in 1987.

“It took greats acts of courage to overcome a lot of this and I’m very proud of her for that,” John Glenn told ASHA in 2015.

Feb. 17 – her birthday – has been known as Annie Glenn Communication Disorders Awareness Day in Ohio since 2016.

Annie and John Glenn met as young children growing up in New Concord, Ohio, marrying in 1943. John Glenn passed away in 2016 at 95. They had two children.

"I want families to really enjoy each other because ours has just stayed very, very, very close," Annie Glenn said in 2012.

The Glenns at a parade in Downtown Columbus in 1998, the same year U.S. Sen. John Glenn became the oldest man to fly into space. [The Ohio Channel]

“It is impossible to imagine John Glenn without Annie, and Annie without John," DeWine said Tuesday. "They grew up together and their life-long love story was inspiring to us all.”

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