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Ann Bridget Horrigan

Woman of faith, family cornerstone, eternal optimist. Born on Feb. 28, 1912, in Ayton, Ont.; died on Oct. 17, 2013, in Toronto, of vascular dementia, aged 101.

Ann was born to Mary and Maurice Culliton in Ayton, Ont., the second of five children. When she was eight, she witnessed the sudden death of her mother, of an apparent aneurysm. This traumatic event, Ann recalled, "changed everything," although her father managed to keep his young family together.

Ann and her only sister, Kathleen, took turns attending school every other year, so that one of them would be at home to help run the household while the other attended classes. Daily life revolved around the essentials: praying, cooking and baking, doing laundry, sewing. Ann loved words – writing letters, spending countless hours reading, taking part in spelling bees – and completed Grade 10 with excellent grammar and spelling skills.

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In her early twenties, she fell in love with Frank Horrigan, a local man 12 years her senior. They enjoyed square dances and sing-alongs, and Ann especially loved Irish music. They married in June, 1937, and raised five children (Joseph, Mary, Anne-Louise, Regina and Bernadette).

Domestic work filled Ann's days, just as it had in her youth, while farm life provided a sound living and security for her family. Prayer was central to their life, and nearby St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church was the hub.

Ann lived her faith, reaching out whenever and wherever she saw a need. For 25 years, starting in about 1948, she visited and helped disabled neighbours with daily meals and companionship. She welcomed many to her home, especially children of her extended family and anyone who needed a place to stay. Visitors were always treated to apple pie, butter tarts and homemade candy.

As farming became more mechanized, Ann and Frank decided to sell their land and in 1973 moved to Mount Forest, Ont. Louise Marshall Hospital became Ann's new place of work, doing housekeeping and some volunteering. Frank worked in the hospital's maintenance department and indulged his love of flower gardening on the side.

In 1982, after 45 years of marriage, Frank succumbed to kidney cancer. Ann kept busy with volunteering, visiting the elderly, attending church functions, playing cards, and making quilts.

In the mid-1990s, she moved to Toronto to be closer to family. The Loyola Arrupe seniors' residence, where she lived for almost two decades, was her "heaven on earth." She enjoyed time with a close circle of friends and loved to receive mail and talk on the phone. She took pleasure in church, social and family gatherings and welcomed friends and relatives to her suite for tea. Although diagnosed with dementia a few years ago, she keenly looked forward to her 100th birthday celebration in 2012.

She never dreamed she would have such a long life, and had thought that Frank would outlive her. When that didn't happen, she serenely accepted that this was what God had in store for her.

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Ann treasured her family, which included nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, who cherished her in return. Her beautiful smile was a window into a loving heart; her eyes were full of kindness and her soul was full of faith. She passed away peacefully, surrounded by her children in prayer.

Juli-ann Gorgi and Kristine Obritsch are Ann's granddaughters; JP Horrigan is her son.

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