Tag Archives: Tribute

Celebrating Ann Burke

I was lucky to meet Ann in 1969. I started teaching a first grade class in the middle of the year at an all Black elementary school on the north side of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I had just received my degree and was in the right place at the right time to get a teaching job right away.

I was scared spitless. It was a ‘self-contained’ 1st grade class, which meant that I was responsible for teaching those sweet kids EVERYTHING during the day – reading, math, writing, spelling, gym, art, music, current events, holiday stuff, etc. I met Ann the first day and we bonded instantly. She took me under her wing, listening to my fears, funny stories, questions and gave me her best advice. She taught 4th grade. I’m not sure how long she had been teaching at that point, but I was delighted I had someone to go to for help and guidance.

We learned new things about each other as our friendship grew. I learned that she had a daughter and a son. She thought the world of both of them and would do anything for them. She was divorced and raising the kids alone, working full time, taking care of the house and yard and pets.  I kiddingly asked if she could JUGGLE, as well!

As the years passed, things happened and we went our separate ways. My husband and I moved to Arkansas because of a job offer for him. Ann and I had one of those RARE friendships that didn’t fade away. It didn’t matter how long it was between letters, cards, or visits, we took up where we left off, happily chatting and continuing to share our lives.

Over this time, I also was lucky enough to get to know her daughter. We are friends, now, too. She’s a lovely, strong lady I’m proud to know.

Over the years Ann’s health became more and more of a challenge. Lately, things went downhill quite rapidly. Her daughter kindly kept me in the loop on how she and Ann were doing and what was happening. Ann went to hospice and died yesterday. Her daughter, who has done everything possible to make her deteriorating condition bearable, was at her side.

Ann’s and my friendship almost made it to 50 years. I’ve been richer for knowing her and sharing her love for her children. I hope that she is now “Dancing with the Stars” (one of her favorite programs), looking down and smiling at us, having found peace and the welcome absence of pain.

Thank you, Ann, for being my friend. Dance your heart out!

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She Made Such a Difference

We heard tonight that our long time treasured dental hygienist, Shannon Faulkner, and her husband died in a light plane crash last night. She and her husband loved to fly around the countryside, soaring like a bird, enjoying the weather, the incredible view, and being with each other.

We treasured her because not only was she competent, she was compassionate and showed it in so many ways.

My mom died of oral cancer. Shannon did my oral exam first so that I could breathe a huge sigh of relief and we could go on with my teeth cleaning. She remembered details my husband, son, and I told her and would ask questions as if it hadn’t been six months or more since we had seen her. She loved her patients and it showed.

I hadn’t been to the dentist in years and years. I insisted that our son go regularly. My husband went regularly because he had had trouble with his teeth and harsh care in the Marines. He wanted to be proactive about any problems and he appreciates the wonderful care we get with Wes Moore, DDS in Fort Smith, and his staff.

Finally several years ago, Harvey insisted I go. I can’t remember what he promised to do that I really wanted for his health, but my going to the dentist was what I needed to do in order to get his cooperation. I met Shannon, shaking in my boots. I was shaking so hard I could barely lie on the chair. Shannon was really, really kind. She was gentle, too, and, as I mentioned, compassionate about my fear of dentists and the possibility of oral cancer.

It was because of Shannon that I kept going back. I met Dr. Moore, a truly NICE man. I told him that I liked him, and enjoyed talking to him, but hoped I would never need his services. I DID need his services when I developed a problem with my wisdom tooth this year. He removed it for me, making the procedure as painless as humanly possible. Shannon came into the room to hug me before my procedure when she discovered I was there.

I can’t imagine ever lucking out again as we did in finding Shannon and being lucky enough to be her patients. Shannon will always hold a special place in our hearts. She made a difference to us, and many others. We’ll miss you, Sweet lady.

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