Ann O’Connor enjoys time with her Thursday morning coffee group. Clockwise from lower left, they include O’Connor, Ruth Callanan, Jeanne Grebin, Jan K. Marley, Ramona Moger, Lois Shaw, Muriel Hanson and Jane Klompenhower. Some are former co-workers from the Good Samaritan Society Nursing Home in Preston before it closed. Ann spent over 25 years there and a similar time working at Gehling Auction, both of Preston.
Ann O’Connor enjoys time with her Thursday morning coffee group. Clockwise from lower left, they include O’Connor, Ruth Callanan, Jeanne Grebin, Jan K. Marley, Ramona Moger, Lois Shaw, Muriel Hanson and Jane Klompenhower. Some are former co-workers from the Good Samaritan Society Nursing Home in Preston before it closed. Ann spent over 25 years there and a similar time working at Gehling Auction, both of Preston.
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By the time you reach age 73, you’ve had some ups, some downs and a world full of experiences. To fully enjoy one’s life – especially looking to the future, you should have a good, positive attitude, according to Ann O’Connor of rural Preston.

“I love life,” she said, beaming with an infectious smile as she had coffee with her weekly Thursday morning group. They include a number of former co-workers from the Good Samaritan Society Nursing Home in Preston. Ann worked there for 26 years before it closed in 2008.

Ann came to Preston from Mazeppa in 1963. She and Jim were married. Shortly thereafter, a lifelong involvement in politics started.

“Tom (whose last name was something like Lindstroff, spelling unknown) asked me to go to the caucuses. Now I’ve been going to the (Democratic) caucuses for 50 years,” she said.

That enabled her to get even more involved. Ann said every time she signed up to be an election judge. Recently, she completed another training for election judges. Barring changes in the procedure of signing in voters and the voting itself from election to election, one has to figure she could almost teach the course.

Then there is her long tenure as a supervisor on the Carimona Township Board.

“In 1988 two people each bet me $30 I wouldn’t run for township supervisor,” Ann continued, chuckling, “I like being involved… and I needed the $60. I got elected by a landslide and have been a supervisor ever since.”

She’s enjoyed it. One thing of which she’s proud is that the Carimona supervisors have taken good care of the township’s roads.

Ann is planning to retire from her supervisor position in March of 2018, saying, “Thirty years is plenty.”

She’s liked meeting people, attending classes and more. “I love my (township supervisor) job,” she stated.

Another board keeping her busy is the Fillmore County Planning Commission (P&Z), on which she holds a position. She was appointed by county officials back when Norm Craig was zoning administrator. The heads of the department since then were Chris Graves and currently Cristal Adkins.

When there was an open position, someone suggested appointing a woman to the board. Ann was a ready selection after attending the P&Z meetings as a township supervisor – and due to her interest and ability to speak to issues. She said she works to keep the rules the same for all proposals and people seeking permits in front of the commission.

Ann especially enjoyed keeping in touch with former-area state senator Sharon Erickson Ropes of Winona. The state senator initiated the idea of a veterans’ cemetery being located at the former Fillmore County farm at Preston to Fillmore County commissioners during an Aug. 11, 2009, meeting. Amidst state budget deficits and concerns, she shared an idea to honor veterans at a new, local cemetery and in turn give the area an economic boost from visitors. Then Erickson Ropes diligently worked on it during her time in office, along with other area politicians and government agencies. The cemetery became a reality, opening late in 2015 and having a dedication ceremony this spring.

Also involved

While she’s certainly been active and enjoying her civic duties, they are just the tip of the iceberg of endeavors on which Ann shines her good attitude.

At St. Columban’s Catholic Church in Preston, Ann taught Sunday school in the past and has been a group leader. Last year, and again this year, she ran the church’s bingo stand at the Fillmore County Fair. She’s a cemetery trustee for St. Columban’s. And Ann used to mow the lawn at the St. Liguori Catholic Cemetery near where she and Jim live on their farm, in rural Greenleafton.

Ann has been president of the VFW Auxiliary in Preston six times.

She and Jim have one child, daughter Kelly Reinecke of Eyota, and two grandchildren, Bridget and Sam, ages 24 and 22, respectively. Kelly teaches in the elementary school at Chatfield. Ann used to go there and serve as a “foster” grandparent for kids who had no one to attend Grandparents’ Day. She and Jim also served as field trip chaperones back in the day.

Another involvement for years was the Fillmore County Relay for Life. Ann has problems with her feet and said she “doesn’t walk so well.”

She was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago, had a lump removed and went through 30 sessions of radiation.

“It’s all gone. It’s all attitude. You have to have that… that it’s not going to kill you,” she said.

At her five-year check-up, the doctor commented on how well she was doing and her good attitude.

As Ann said a thank-you to God, the doctor commented that she should thank herself, that her positive attitude made a big difference. Ann said she comes from a family where cancer and death from it has struck many members.

A recent addition to her household has her wondering why she did without for so long. She and Jim now have a pet housecat, Tulip. Ann gave a grudging, laughing endorsement of the feline, “She drives me nuts, but she’s OK.”

To move on with all the stages of life, one can strive to keep a positive, happy, attitude like Ann O’Connor. Make sure you, too, can say with heartfelt meaning, “I love life!”