our beloved Anna

*   last updated Sunday 23 April 2017   *

Anna Rose Bryant

Wednesday March 28 1951–Wednesday June 6 2001.

This beautiful bon vivant of magnificent caliber and sumptuous tastes was born in Clinton, North Carolina, fifty years ago, and she died in her adopted city of Seattle after a bout of illness left her too weak to fight off another onslaught…for once the force of her personality wasn’t enough. She was a vibrant and effervescent woman, known for her largesse, who would be mortified but laughing her head off that her friends wrote this tribute to her. Anna lived several lives and didn’t always mention them all, so those of us in her most recent past can only account for the latter portion…in which, after a long stint at United Way of King County, she spent her last years working for Group Health Cooperative first in Seattle and then at the Tukwila Call Center, providing her unique and reassuring customer service gifts to a public eternally bewildered by health care program changes. She is survived by an aunt in Hawaii, where she grew up and where her ashes will now be interred—but if Mark Twain was right, she’s joyously back in her beloved Paris now, and Esther and Bébécaiques are probably there too.

If you knew Anna, tell us about her, or send any photos you’d like to share (to citoyen at this domain). We love her so very much.

from Sandy, a school friend:

I met Anna Rose when we were 13 or 14 attending co-ed boarding school. The best times together were in choir. She and I were part of the “Mini Singers”—an elite girls’ group selected by the choir director to perform mostly a capella. We were not called the Mini Singers because were were petite—no way!—but because we wore satin mini skirts! Who would have made that association? At the young age of 13, Anna Rose amazed us with her musical talent. Singing, yes. But, her piano playing was outstanding. She played by ear. She would sit at the baby grand in our auditorium between classes and play the latest Beatles, Stevie Wonder, or Simon and Garfunkel song or whatever she heard. Such talent. In Winky’s sentimental journal note about learning the song, California Dreamin’,for our all-school song contest, he didn’t mention that we won the contest that year. It was the first time that underclassmen/sophomores ever beat the seniors! Anna Rose’s meltdown paid off.

As a teen, Anna Rose had the shapely body of a Rubens model. I can still see her warm brown eyes and beautiful, straight blond hair—like Mary of Peter, Paul and Mary. We spent many hours together at Waikiki Beach basking in the sun on weekends. I admired how the sun kissed her hair with streaks of highlight (this didn’t happen to Asian hair, like mine). We would add iodine to baby oil to get a “really good burn” which later turned into a tan. She was quite the tease in her bikini, too—saying Hi to the beach boys with that radiant smile. Oo-la-la!

from Wayne, a school friend:

I’m driving home from one end of Honolulu to the other end, and I’m hearing this song on the radio, “Let There Be Peace On Earth, and let it begin with me…” and I’m trying to sing along. I don’t do very well. Then after the song is over, I suddenly think of the song, “California Dreaming,” and I fail miserably in trying to remember the words. I chuckle, then all of sudden I recall, out-of-the-clear-blue-Honolulu sky, Anna Rose chastising the entire senior class for taking a lackadaisical approach to learning these songs. We were “trying” to prepare for the annual school song contest. I clearly remember her going into a tirade in the school auditorium, and I don’t want to remember that she had a few choice words for me, who was cutting up in the back line. I also don’t want to remember that she later apologized to me for being so public in correcting me; but she also wanted me to know that she meant every last word. (Can you see her busting out laughing?!) After remembering that incident, I arrived home and went to the Internet, and started a Google search as I recalled one of our classmates telling me that Anna Rose had passed away, and he thought she had lived in Washington or Oregon. So, I started to search for her and it didn’t take long [to find this website] when I added “Seattle” to her name.

I do not think I ever carried on more than three or four paragraphs of a “conversation” with her in the 3 years that I knew her. She did most of the talking. But you know what, I loved to hear Anna Rose speak. I wished I was as assertive and confident as she. I do remember her being corrected by teachers, and how contrite she became; but man, that NEVER kept her down.

There were some occasions that I found her by herself. We attended a private boarding school in Honolulu, so it was not unusual to find schoolmates in various parts of campus trying to get away from the madness of dormitory life. To me, it was not normal to find Anna Rose by herself. So when I saw her alone, the first time, I thought I was going to be Mr. Nice-guy, and give her a consoling shoulder…bad idea. Before, I even got near her, she told me how to “get out of here”. I never bothered her after that. When she went into her “mood,” she was really in it. In her quiet times, I’d see her, our eyes would meet, and I’d turn away, bow my head as if I didn’t “see” her, and keep walking; she would say, “Hey, Izumi, it ain’t that bad.” I just nodded and kept going.

Anna Rose was one of our classmates who all of us wanted to see, again, but I think all of us realized that she was not going to come back to a reunion. Are you kidding? If we wanted to see her, we would have to catch up with her; she was moving forward and not turning back. I believe she felt that life was short; she sensed it and appreciated it; we took it for granted. I’m sure she “outlived” us; I’m sure of it. Judging from her simple living area that I saw in the photo, I wouldn’t think of Anna Rose living any other way. If she didn’t have to rest, I’m sure she would have never. You know, I believe whatever trauma she experienced on the island of Kauai stuck with her. It never marred her. It put her down at times, but it never kept her down. Solitude was her adversary because it caused her to remember.

If I happened to see Anna Rose today, I would say, “Hey Kid, yeah you, remember me?” (Then I would try to make her remember; she occasionally called me by my nickname, “Winky.”) Then I would say, “I just want to thank you, because sometimes the bumps in my life caused me to remember you, and how you always had a comeback. I remember how you would take chastisement (from Mrs Miguel, the choir director), remain calm, and a few minutes later act like it never happened. I was always amazed at your resiliency and your comebacks. I joined the service, and made the US Army my career, but in various times and places I would recall your calm in the face of “adversity.” And it got me through my rough times. And WHENEVER I would hear “California Dreaming,” or “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” I would say (out loud), “Anna Rose Bryant.” (even as recently as last week). And then I would have to “describe” you to everybody that heard me say your name. You will always be the Bette Midler and Yvonne Elliman (played Mary Magdalene in “Jesus Christ Superstar”) of my life.”

Oh, man!! I just remembered, Anna Rose. Mrs Miguel took the music class to hear the Honolulu Symphony and you and I sat next to each other. You teased me and said, “When the lights go down and I feel the hand on my leg, you’re going to lose some teeth.” Then it was, “But if you were any kind of man, you’d start before the lights go down.” (My classmates kept chuckling, and I kept shaking my head, red-faced, and Mrs Miguel kept looking down the row, staring at me, and mouthing, “Settle down.” How could I tell Mrs Miguel that it was you and not me; I was trying to act like a “man”). When the symphony started we quieted down and we listened to a guy from Europe, playing the violin, as a guest musician. After a few solos and a few encores, he asked the audience with a heavy accent, “Does anybody have a request?” There was a moment of silence and then you spoke out loud (you didn’t shout), “Can you play ‘Turkey in the Straw?’ ” Mrs. Miguel’s eyes rolled back, and she gripped the arms to her chair, and her face contorted (as well as the other attendees). Then she looked down the row of seats, she was about 4–5 seats from me to my right, you were on my left. And she started to mouth words. I was so scared, literally. And you kept whispering to me, “It’s not funny, Izumi. Wayne, she can see you smiling. Stop laughing. And I kept whispering through my gritted teeth, “Please Anna Rose, stop.” And it took every ounce of me not to bust out laughing; all I could to was keep shaking my head. WE ended up being chastised in front of the whole class and the school choir. I think we were put on work detail for Mrs Miguel’s class. I REMEMBER! In thinking about the incident, YOU WERE BEAUTIFUL! You were a doll. Anna Rose, you showed me how to “get over it; life ain’t going to wait for you.” You would just stand there and take it. I love you, kid.

from Craig, a school friend:

Dear Anna Rose,

Somewhere in the first part of the ’90s I remember talking with you on the phone. You seemed disappointed in the islands and planned on moving to the mainland. I was hoping you’d stop in Honolulu and we could chat awhile, but your plans were already made. That was the last time we spoke.

The last time I saw you was probably during the last week before your graduation… about June, 1969. You were sitting on the steps in front of the admin-office as I came to visit campus, with your hair cropped stylish short. You had also lost a noticeable amount of weight, and looked cover girl fabulous! I thought your disposition had changed as you were extremely quiet, almost spoke in a whisper, and had this far away disposition and look. Maybe a guy had just broken your heart or maybe you were taking in those last few days of your first four years away from home at boarding school or maybe you were looking at me and thinking that this is how it is after graduation… going away for long periods of time and coming back only once in a great while? Whatever it was, I’m glad by hearing from those who knew you for about the last ten years of your much too short life, that it was not how you lived the rest of the way.

You were pretty close to being the “Queen Clown of Campus,” if not so. That is meant to be a compliment. To me, like the very few Hollywood actresses who were beautiful, but acted zany, that was you. Since we were all “stuck” on those 32 campus acres, 24/7, everyone got to know each other fairly well. Although we were not in the same classes, you and I were in the choir (remember those neighbor island singing trips?), and of course during all those “gourmet” meals at the dining hall. Hmm…chipped beef brown gravy on white rice was voted the favorite by all of us health-(un)conscious savvy teens. (And talk about health unconscious, Woodstock days were waiting right around the corner).

Your brand of comedy I could not keep up with, so I formed my own, which was nowhere nearly as good as yours. Dubiously, James Alonzo and I were your counterparts as the male clowns, but at least with you there was some class and glamour.

It wasn’t until rather recently that I found out from Allison that your parents passed away when you were very young and that your grandmother raised you. You were blessed with her, but I can’t imagine the sadness and trauma of your loss. Looking back, perhaps your zeal and passion for life, friends, and humor was a partial result in your fight against the pain of your loss? In any event, Anna, you are an encouragement to those who have lost far less. An encouragement that life can go on in glorious fashion and that there is still much happiness to be had and thankful for.

Remember the time your boyfriend, Rodney, and I snuck out of the boy’s dorm at night to visit you and Al? What a risk! If busted, some or all of us could have been permanently “deported” back to our respective homes. As it turned out, Rodney finally got caught (?) after several visits and was sent home for good. Thank goodness I got chicken and quit after the first time. “Now, now, Whattanabey, your life hasn’t exactly been exactly a bunch of goodie two shoes either,” you’re probably gently scolding me right now.

Wherever Anna was, yes, it seemed that everyone knew that…there was Anna…even when you were not loud. One thing I will miss a lot ironically were your quiet moments. Perhaps because they were so rare, but oh, so artful. In the yearbooks there were numerous pictures of you; the Anna Banana, and the Anna “The Rose” kinds. But there were also the ones with the thoughtful gaze, almost reverie like. I wonder what was going thru your mind at those times?

Anna, I wish to remember you for as long as the Lord allows me to. And when we will meet again, please let’s spend some moments together to share thoughts. May Jesus richly bless your spirit wherever you have been sent to do God’s work and goodwill. Your one grain of sand in eternity must surely be flickering as bright as the brightest. While you’re at it, if you’re allowed, please say “hello” to my dad, Irv, for me. He knows a lot of funny jokes.

aloha and till we meet again,
God Bless you,

p.s. only if you want to… please nudge some of those who knew you from the seemingly “missing” years… the ’70s to the early ’90s to come forward and share about their times with you, but… only if you want to.

from Mark, a friend, former United Way coworker, and the host of this tribute site:

By the end I think Anna and I would have referred to each other as “old friends.” But actually I only knew her for nine of her fifty years, and the part of her day-to-day life I got to share was indescribably minimal. Consider this: I only met her closest coworkers after her death.

There’s so much to say about Anna that it seems wiser just to say “gosh I’ll miss her” and let all the wonderful vignettes and memories which follow, sent by her friends and associates over the years, tell the story. But I knew Anna for nine years and never had an unpleasant visit with her in all that time—a record unsurpassed by most of the friends I’ve had in that time—so maybe I should be more specific.

Technically Anna and I were coworkers for less than a year, and only at United Way (or “Untied Way,” as we called it after the company started using Microsoft Word and found that its spell-checker didn’t correct typos such as that), but I’ve always thought of us as coworkers who had a friendship outside of work. In fact it was the other way around: we met through work and were friends from then onwards, long after we had each moved on to different workplaces.

We would brunch every few months, usually on Capitol Hill’s 15th Avenue, which was close to her apartment; the standard places were Coastal Kitchen and Jack’s Bistro, depending on our moods—Jack’s was so hit-or-miss that we often defaulted to the Coastal. But was there ever a time we didn’t leave peoples’ ears ringing there from the raucous laughter? I can’t think of one. It’s not our fault…they didn’t have any sound baffling—the place is a big box bouncing sound from side to side. And that little room in the back is an acoustic deathtrap—the crayons with which we drew on the tablecloths absorbed hardly any sound at all amid the din.

Anna and I were friends because we both enjoyed and mourned life, and usually we did so in about the same rhythm. Often after those brunches we would stroll to her apartment and continue the visit with more conversation, playing music we loved for each other, watching a favorite film such as “High Anxiety” or “Blazing Saddles” for the bazillionth time, and usually sipping champagne and noshing on grapes or cheeses. And we’d laugh in delight as we celebrated everything we could think of, and we’d just sit and cry together about the sorrows and injustices in the world…and sometimes it was the other way around, laughing at how awful things could be and weeping with joy about the beautiful things in life. But while Anna rarely shared with me the intensity of her sadnesses, we had both learned over the years to express our joys while we were experiencing them.

The day Anna died I had just returned from a week in England and was trying to sort things out at my office on my first day back when I got a call from her coworker Carol breaking the news to me. Carol told me that when the social worker assigned to Anna’s case that week had asked her by way of pain-easing chitchat if there was anything that had made her very happy in recent months, Anna had smiled and said “when my friend Mark told me he loved me.” I don’t know which time she was referring to, as we told each other this whenever it occurred to us and that happened fairly often…but I’m so glad we told each other so much.

The last time I saw Anna, when she was recuperating at home after having been hospitalized for an illness earlier in 2001, she told me gleefully how she’d gone to the Safeway at 15th & John and gone joyriding in the motorized cart they have there for senior citizens, almost mowing down a l’Eggs display in the process. I think that sums up Anna’s style quite nicely, don’t you?

Thank you all for sharing your memories of Anna Rose with me. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to sustain her life, as it were, for us all.

from Allison, a school friend:

Anna Rose was my roommate our sophomore year at Mid Pac in Honolulu. What a joy it was to share a room with such a talented, fun-loving person. We lost touch with each other when I returned to the mainland at the end of the school year, but I frequently thought about her and I was curious about how her life turned out. I imagined that she was living on a commune with a dozen children or a star in some Broadway Production. Whatever she ended up doing with her life, I was sure that it was not boring, not traditional, and definitely not lacking passion.

I had been searching for her for about thirty five years, asking people in Kauai if they knew her grandparents, asking alumnae from Mid Pac when they last heard anything about her, internet searches, etc…to no avail. When I was in Honolulu in 2001 I inquired once again and a friend told me that he had heard that Anna Rose had recently passed away, however, he had no other details of her life or death. I am ecstastic to find this website in her honor and would love to contribute this photo of Anna Rose in her teens.

The first day we met she bolted into our small dorm room and sang/shouted “ANNA’S HERE!” at the top of her lungs, and I wondered how I would ever make it through the year. It was the start of a great adventure and a wonderful relationship that I will always treasure. I can still hear her sing, “I feel pretty, oh so pretty….” and I will always admire her confidence and energy. Indeed Anna is still here.

I will see you later, Anna,


from Wendy, a friend and United Way co-worker:

I am so sorry and sad to hear about Anna. That is truly heartbreaking to think about….someone so alive, so vibrant. The first thing I thought of was how for weeks she went around the office singing that insane TV commercial “I feel like chicken tonight, chicken tonight!”…all while tucking her hands under her pits (imitating a chicken)—what a silly thought to pop in my head—hey, she made me laugh. She could really make you smile—no, laugh, regardless of how stressed or grumpy you felt at the time. What a gift she had for making people smile—especially in that wacky joint.

a loving tribute posted online by Darlyne, a school friend:

September Morn

from David, a friend and Group Health coworker:

Anna’s wit was a welcomed distraction from work, her wit was so quick that it was a pleasure hearing her handle the occasional angry caller. I suspect that on many occasions, the caller realized ten minutes after the end of their call to GHC Customer Service and Anna, that they’d just been skillfully scolded and put in their place and they didn’t have a clue at the time!

One time there was an elderly and ornery gentleman that called and it was clear that he was hard of hearing. Anna was speaking loudly and pronouncing carefully. At one point during the call when there was a lapse in speech from Anna while she researched a claims issue, the man must have said something like, “I can’t hear you damnit!” Anna, without hesitation said, “sir, that’s because I’m not talking.” Everyone who overheard that busted into laughter and had to leave the immediate area.

Another scenario as reported by one of the Quality Assurance people who listens in on calls: she described a situation where an elderly woman called inquiring about the extent of coverage for some of her pulmonary devices and some pulmonary testing she had done. While Anna was looking up the particulars of this persons benefit, she was small talking with the woman. The woman suddenly lowered her voice and said to Anna, “do you know what my husband calls my pulmonary tests?” Anna replied, “no, tell me”. “He calls them blow jobs!” Anna shot back, “the pulmonary function tests are subject to a $5 office visit co-pay, the dancing boys are extra.” Which sent the pulmonary challenged old woman into fits of hysterical laughter and wheezing.

from Missy, a friend and Group Health coworker:

I remember the same conversation with the elderly man that David mentioned in his memories of Anna. That was the true Anna B. She was full of wit and personality. I remember she always called Chrystal (another co-worker) our “woodland creature” because of her laugh. Anna and I also got caught talking about obscene things by our boss—Kathryn—oh my I thought we were going to be in such trouble—but Anna got Kathryn to laugh about it—Thank God!!!

I wasn’t able to say Good-Bye to Anna and that is tearing me apart right now. She was truly one hell of a woman! I have a picture that David took of Anna and I at the Christmas party hanging in my office.

I love you Anna B. !!!!!

from Lisa, a friend and coworker:

Anna…ma petite fleur de chou!

I laugh as I write these words, fondly remembering the “Pepe Le Pew-ish” cheesy french accent Anna and I would use to call each other this. So very quickly my laughter turns to tears as I realize that I will not hear her laughter again….

Some people enter our lives and there is an unexplainable, immediate connection. Meeting Anna was like that for me. I am so very grateful to have met her; such a unique and wonderful person, full of love for life and those she cared for around her—so passionately inspired and touched by the beauty of the world.

Anna will still always be with me, and with all of us now, in her own little way. That magical little smile of hers will always remind me of those quiet, special moments when we remember just how very precious it is to be alive, and just how lucky we are to have loved.

I will miss you Anna dear, my little cabbage flower…Bon Voyage!

from Carol, a friend and Group Health coworker:

Dear Anna,

I wanted to call you last night and tell you that you were finally home and that you were going to go for a ride around the island today. You are not there.......we shared so much together on our late evening phone calls. Where do I go now ?

You left before you were ready, before any of us were ready......

Do you know how obnoxious I thought you were when I first met you ? How I dreaded sitting next to you when we combined our departments ? How I fell in love with you after our very first working day together ?

Oh my goodness, the things we did.....like making barnyard noises to blow off steam, making cube rounds; you in your brain cap and me wearing my pig nose, how we broke-in new cube mates, how we dared coworkers to enter our cube at their own risk, how we loved it when Kathryn would stop by and giggle with us.

You were like a kid in a candy store on our trip to Wenatchee. I don’t think you missed a bird or a road sign the whole way over. Remember the deer you saw on the island ? You had me, Martina, Cheryl, and Darlene staring over there for half an hour before we realized it was a rock. We were going again this year and you got sick, you called me and wanted to know if you could get a smaller oxygen tank so you could go. Last year we did a toast to the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing, next year we will salute you both.

Yes, I am sad.......the hard part is when all is over and the missing begins. But, oh my dear the memories. I will talk of you and laugh and think of you and cry. You will forever be a part of me.

love you

from Bob, a NOAA coworker:

Anna worked in an office down the hall. She was one the few real people there. She had just moved up from San Diego and was settling into being a Seattlite. We would ride the same bus back into town from Sand Point. One evening, just before Thanksgiving, the bus passed a grocery store advertising “Fresh Young Turkeys.” And Anna said “Sounds like my dating life lately.”

She left NOAA some years before I did, and I lost track until I ran into her while shopping on Capitol Hill. It was great to see her after all that time. More amazingly, she remembered all of my kids’ names. We talked about the good old days. Anna wanted to know if she could make the grade as a Seattle character and thinking back on George and Pansy and the Hat Lady, I told Anna that she was more than qualified. Too bad that we have all been overtaken by other events.

Next time, Anna

from Steve, a friend and supervisor:

As your supervisor and friend, you were both exasperating and delightful to me. I took delight in listening to your word play with our customers. Often, I would cringe, wondering just how the customer was going to take you.

Do people know that you spent your lunch time in “HELL?” Almost every day, you would break out your midday meal and state “I’m going to HELL for lunch!” ……it’s a website chat room.

Do people know you loved beautiful furniture? Your collection of “vintage” design magazines and outdated catalogues were a recyclers dream.

How many others laughed about “The weather, she is sucking, no?” The majority of you will not have a clue what that means. To those who understand, I’m sure you are remembering fondly.

I believe in this life we ALL hope to make an impact on others. Rest assured my friend, you made an impact on many people.

some delightful verbal “snapshots” from our friend Jan…

from Christina, a friend and Group Health coworker:

I had the pleasure of knowing Anna during my 5 years at GHC. She was a rare soul, and possessed a gift for blending humor, compassion, and sarcasm. She always made me smile, and always had a kind word. She used to see me coming down the hall and say “Praise the Queen!” with an eloquent accent that only Anna could master. I am so glad that my path crossed with this amazing woman…. I am saddened that she’s left us so soon, but know that the beauty of her spirit is still here.

from Gregg, a friend and coworker

In times like these, we often hear from someone commenting that the person who we just lost was great person and human being. Often, this is said more out of respect for the dead rather than it being a true recap of their lives. That is not the case with Anna.

I had the honor of once calling myself a coworker and friend of Anna. Here was a person who truly radiated honesty, happiness, sincerity, and joy. I tried to remember all of the times both in and out of the office spent with Anna and friends, not once could I recall a time where she was unhappy. Anna seemed to have been able to find that balance in her life that we all wish we could find. I’ve seen her laugh directly at adversity and handle difficulty with an enormous amount of class and dignity.

Anna, you’re now in a much better place. Please keep them all laughing in heaven as you made us laugh on earth.

from Gary, a schoolmate:

Once ... Anna Rose and I agreed on a date to take a hike.

She wanted to go to spot she called “the Meadow.”

That weekend I borrowed my parents’ car, and we drove up Round Top Drive to the rain forest of Mount Tantalus, which is adjacent to Manoa valley.


I will always remember...


Walking along the trail to “the Meadow,” holding her hand.

We walked, we ran.

We laughed.


We came to a clearing in the dense forest where we rested.

Then all of sudden Anna Rose got up and said to me “Gary—watch this!”

She did a singing, twirling dance.

I saw the sunlight shining in her hair and upon her shoulders.

I saw the sparkle in her eyes

And a smile on her lips.


That moment was one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen!!

from her aunt Maureen:

Anna was my sister’s daughter and was left with my parents to raise. She was precocious, smart, and talented. We loved her as if she were our own child knowing she would leave us to be her own self and lead her own life. Anna moved on and left us behind which is what growth is all about. She was always called Anna Rose by her family and friends.

Anna had a good life for she left good times and good friends who miss her. Now she rests with her Mother and Grandparents on her dream island of Kauai. Let us remember the good times and forget the bad.

Ironically, Anna’s great-grandfather (on her Mother’s side) was born in France—coming to Hawaii to work in the plantations as a luna (foreman). He spoke fluent French and to keep up his native language sought out the Priests on Kauai for conversation. Paris was in Anna’s blood.