Anne Margaret Garrett (Chilton) passed away peacefully at her home on December 26, 2020. Anne was born September 13, 1932 on the family farm in Ponsford, Minnesota. She was the youngest of 6 children. She grew up on a dairy farm before rural electric and indoor plumbing. Her stories of attending midnight mass on a horse pulled sleigh and returning home to a tree lit with candles were magical. She did schoolwork by kerosine lamp and used the outhouse until her brother was able to put indoor plumbing into the house in 1948. The house had a wood burning furnace in the cellar that allows heat to enter the house in one large grate in the living room. During the winter, she would sleep with her clothes under her blankets and in the morning would jump from her bed, grab her clothes and dress while standing on the grate. The old house had four bedrooms: one for the girls, one for the boys, one for parents, and one for both of the Grandmother’s. It was a full farmhouse. When asked about living during the depression, she would say she never knew that they were poor; you just had to be tough, and it built character. These lessons would carry on helping her in every stage of her life, and she strove to pass them on to her children and grandchildren.
WWII changed her family forever. She thought it was tougher than living through the Great Depression. With lowered speed limits and no rubber available, it was an all-day trip to Park Rapids (13 miles). Once she claimed to have had five flat tires on one of those trips, each having to be repaired on the spot. It took a patch and a hand pump to get the trip going again. Foods were rationed, and everyone had to use ration cards and were only allowed so much. Since Anne lived on a dairy farm, they did not need milk and cream rations so they would trade those cards for sugar and gas ration cards. Her oldest brother, Bill, joined the Army, Neil joined the Navy, and her sister, Lorraine joined the Waves. Soon after they left home, tragedy struck. When Anne was 11 years old her mother passed away, her older brother Bill was hospitalized, and her Grandma Chilton and Uncle Joe Robinson passed away. This left Anne, her brother John, and her father alone on the farm. The large Robinson and Chilton families, as well as the Ponsford Prairie community jumped in to help. Anne talked about the times as a young teen she had to prepare food for the harvest crews that would eat meals at the house. Being the oldest female at the farm, she had to bake bread and pies in the early morning and prepare lunch and dinner for 12 – 20 men and boys.
When Anne was 15 years old and her brother John was 17 years old, her Dad moved to Seattle to be with his new wife, Babe. That left Anne and John alone to run the farm. They did not have time to participate in school activities; however, they were able to get out after milking to go dancing at different establishments, including Anglers in Osage. The only problem was that their Uncle Robinson was sheriff of Becker county and would occasionally drop in to see which nephews or nieces were causing trouble. Their father returned three years later. Anne was very close with her brother John. They took care of each other and John put off pursuing his own career to make sure Anne graduated from high school. She had two cousins, Mary Robinson (Dowling) and Nancy Chilton (Huhtala) that remained close her entire life and many stories were shared of their adventures. She also had one very close friend from her 4H days, Iloe Tester. Their stories of the state fair still bring the family delight.
Anne attended Linnell school grades 1-8 and then Park Rapids High School, graduating in 1950. Anne then earned her rural teacher’s certificate. She did her student teaching at Toad Lake School and then was hired to teach at Two Inlets School for two-years and then the Osage School. Both, one room schoolhouses, so she had the daunting task of teaching all grade levels. She had planned to attend Bemidji State College to complete her teachers license, but first visited her brother Neil and family in Maryland and Washington DC. Humorously, she ended up spending too much money while she was there and was forced to stay in DC.
Anne found a new career as a secretary in the civil service and realized that she loved the independence of her new job. She met many other single women who were starting their careers, some training to be military nurses. To her joy, she found that she could transfer to other federal employment options and soon moved to Florida to explore the world. She traveled with many of her friends as well. Since some of them were in the military, they would have to move frequently, but she stayed in touch. Iloe, Mary, Nancy, Jerry, Ann, and Donna, were always in her life. Next, she followed her friends to Denver, Colorado. She and her friends skied and played all over the beautiful state. When asked about some of the fun times, Jerry Brewer said they had all been sworn to secrecy. One night, while dancing at Palmer Lake, Colorado, she met the love of her life, John Garrett. They married on July 1, 1960 at The Little Church in the Wildwood in Green Mountain Falls, CO. Her brother, John, traveled from Texas to walk her down the aisle. Iloe served as her Maid of Honor. After much contemplation, she moved her job to the Air Force Academy where she worked for over 37 years.
Anne and John raised 3 children, Tim, Cathy, and Liz. Anne had a great time exploring the west with her kids and John. She made sure each one learned about the importance of family and to always dance. The family moved into a house on Moffat Circle in 1965. Anne would call it home for the rest of her life.
The Moffat neighborhood was ideal for raising kids. Life-long friendships were made, even though many have moved away, their friendships continue. She kept in touch with as many as she could. The Reordas, Wilmeths, MacFarlands, Robinsons, Sebbens, Fowlers, Grahamlys, Occhutos, and Youngers, and several more, remain close friends. Today many young families live in the neighborhood, they all called her “Ms. G”. The neighborhood even sent condolence cards to the Garrett kids. How lucky she was to have lived there and how lucky the neighborhood was to have her there.
She invited her father, Hub, to live with her family. She also developed a very close relationship with her in-laws, Grace and Lloyd. Gramma Grace became her foster mother. Anne was very loving and made sure the Grandparents were involved in her children’s lives and to involve them in family vacations, hunting and fishing trips, sports, school events, big family canning operations, and all family celebrations. Anne also invited John’s young cousin, Randy Gitthens, to live with them and he soon became one of the family. John was an avid sportsman, many a time, Anne went to hunting camps as the lone female to enjoy the outdoors. Anne loved books. She was often seen at the front of John’s boat reading a novel and pretending to be fishing. One memorable fishing trip to Minnesota involved missing early morning fishing to play Hearts with her kids in the camper all day. After much fun banter with John about the card game, she went on to catch the largest Northern Pike of the trip.
When Anne’s children married, they brought to the family the famous, “Out-Laws” Bill, Chuck, and Jeane, and they have made the family complete. Anne adored her “Out-Laws” and treated them sometimes better than her children. One family gathering involved Bill’s daughter’s wedding. Chuck flew to Colorado separate from his family and he drove Anne to Montana for the wedding. After the wedding, Jeane drove her back to her home. Each “out-law” tried to make their trip the most fun for Anne, the competitive banter continues to this day.
Anne tried very hard to stay in touch with her many friends and family. She had 9 nieces and nephews and many cousins. Recently, when asked about favorite memories about Anne, one characteristic was constant, her witty humor. Anne always looked for the funny side of life and enjoyed making people laugh and smile. If you received a Christmas card from her, the wit and humor were always there, often in the form of clever poetry.
When Grandchildren began to arrive, she and John were thrilled. Over the years, a total of 11 grandchildren would grace their lives. To the surprise of her children, she would say how much better behaved the Grandchildren are compared to her children. She made a point to be involved, as much as possible with their lives, and to make sure they met her for vacations in Minnesota. She tried to attend every activity in which they were involved. In one Christmas letter, she reviewed her year of attending basketball games, soccer tournaments, ballet performances, volleyball games, baseball games, track meets, school performances, fishing trips, swimming lessons, Grandparent days, and she even helped butcher a chicken for an extra credit science project. If you ever visited Anne, her living room had become a shrine to her grandchildren. One wall was for pictures of the grands when they were 9 months old, another wall for current school pictures, and the third wall was the High School senior picture wall. Recently a new section of wall was designated for official pictures for the Great Grandchildren, of which she had two, Everly and Berklee.
Anne was an avid reader, card player (especially cribbage), and marble player. She made sure her children and grandchildren were taught these wonderful past times. Anne’s love for marbles and cribbage is now engrained in each grandkid, as well as her pie and potato salad recipes. Anne also claimed to always win at these games and even once claimed, “she dealt”
Anne also had her “Book Club” friends. It started out as a club to read books but evolved into the breakfast/lunch club. Weekly meetings were the highlight of Anne’s week. Julie Travis, Denise Wickersheim, and Darla Crippen have been such good friends to Anne and her family.
And then there was a close family friend, Glen Baldwin as well as his wife Carla and daughters. He worked with John for years and they enjoyed great fishing trips. Glen became the “adopted son” and did many projects for John and Anne. After John passed, Glen and his family took such wonderful care of Anne, she loved them greatly.
She had a wonderful life exploring Colorado and the west. And she never stopped returning to the family farm in Minnesota. Yearly trips to the old farm and lake continued throughout Anne’s life. Many of her friends and family would stop by the farm to join in on the “shade-seeking circle of the gab.” Keeping an eye on her farm for over 30 years is Donny Tretbar, who has been the keeper of the summer supplies and equipment. David Harris has continued to keep the family on the straight and narrow and entertain them with local stories. She recently enjoyed a camping trip there with her children. Anne never stopped dancing and enjoyed both of her Granddaughter’s weddings and loved watching her family dance the night away.
Anne is preceded in death by her parents Howard Chilton & Margaret (Robinson) Chilton, her husband John Garrett, her siblings, a nephew and a special niece, Grace Anne.
She is survived by her children, Tim (Jeane) Garrett, and their children: Henry (Shea), Grace, and Seely; Cathy (Chuck) Meyer, and their children: Garrett, Charlie and Jon; Liz (Bill) Hanser, and their children: Catie (Jordan), Maggie (Travis), Abbie, Ellie and Annie, and two great grandchildren Everly & Berklee.
Due to COVID restrictions, the memorial service has been delayed for June 26, 2:00pm at the Shrine of Remembrance. The family suggests sending memorial contributions to The Multiple Sclerosis Society. The family plans to celebrate her life in the two places she and John loved most, the Colorado mountains and the Minnesota family farm.