Ann Mary Ripley, 96, of Lyons, Colo., died March 31, 2023, at home after a short illness. She was a mother of six and grandmother of two; author of 10 mystery novels; a loyal friend, neighbor, daughter, sister, and aunt; and a master gardener, who liked to say she “celebrated God in the garden.” Born in Wheaton, Ill., in 1926, Ann Brunner was the youngest of four children, the only daughter, and still a toddler when the family moved to Royal Oak, Mich. She was in the Honor Society at the high school of the Shrine of the Little Flower and attended the University of Detroit (now University of Detroit Mercy), which she left just shy of graduation to take a reporter job on her hometown paper, The Daily Tribune, in the years following World War II.
During her Tribune days, she met her future husband, Anthony “Tony” Ripley, who was hired at the Royal Oak paper upon his return from the Korean War. They first shared a telephone in the newsroom and went on to share their life together. Ann and Tony were married in November 1954 and moved frequently during Tony’s career. The family lived in Royal Oak, Birmingham, and Detroit, Mich.; Boulder; Bethesda, Md.; London; Alexandria, Va.; and Evanston and Morton Grove, Ill., before the couple retired to the outskirts of Lyons in 1993. At the time, Ann had just sold her first book manuscript.
The next 14 years saw the publication of a total of 10 books in her Louise Eldridge garden mystery series. The plots combined her interests in gardening and politics, with titles such as Death of a Garden Pest and Death of a Political Plant. She was a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Colorado Authors League, and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Ann received awards for education reporting as well as a Colorado Authors League Top Hand Award for best book-length genre fiction in 1995 for Mulch: A Gardening Mystery. Aside from her fiction writing, Ann contributed as a freelance writer and editor for several newspapers over many decades.
She loved reading (fiction, history, nonfiction), organic-gardening, flowers, performing and listening to music, keeping up with current affairs, visiting with friends and family, and drawing the community together, whether for dinner parties, art groups, or the Super Bowl (despite her indifference to the game). In her later years, she was fond of offering advice, such as “keep a few close friends” and “write a book”—and she did, thereby enhancing her long life through the decades. Her novels featured gardening essays, which allowed her to share her horticultural wisdom, as well.
Ann was predeceased in 2003 by her husband of 49 years, Tony; and her three brothers, Winfield, Edwin “Buck,” and James. She is survived by her daughters: Sarah, of Lakewood, Colo.; Mary, of Boulder; Catherine Metzger, of Norwood, Colo.; Emily, of New York; Jane, of Lyons; and Martha, of Denver; two grandchildren, Virginia, of Hamtramck, Mich., and Antoni, of New York; four sons-in-law, Ken Rogers, John Metzger, Ben Bajorek, and Vance Watt; a sister-in-law, Maud Plumer; and many nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life will take place Saturday, May 6, 2023, at noon at Lyons Community Church, 350 W. Main Street, Lyons. Donations may be made to the Redstone Review or an animal rescue or shelter of your choice; PO Box 2527, Lyons, CO 80540.