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.

12 thoughts on “Ann Mary Ripley”

  1. I only had the pleasurer of meeting Ann just once, I was very impressed with her spirit and positive attitude, my Son Ken, and daughter-in-law Sarah will be so lost not being able to ‘run up to Lyons’ to see Mom. So very sorry for the families loss.

  2. The short time I spent with Ann as her driver and near her bedside was full of stories of her daughters, her life, and her dear Tony. We spent time admiring flowers and plants, eating pie, and watching black and white movies. Her heart was full of laughter, love and memories, though her body was full of pain. I loved her dearly. She was a delight to spend time with. ????????
    Lots of love to Ann’s family from another Ann without an ‘e’.

  3. I first met Mrs. R when her daughter Sarah, one of my best friends, invited me to a family dinner in the 1970s. Everyone was in the kitchen, chopping veggies, stirring spaghetti sauce and debating the day’s news, writing and art and other esoteric topics. I remember thinking what a cool, smart, creative family this was and how when I had a family of my own that I wanted nights like this and that I would be like Mrs. R. She was something to aspire to, a brilliant woman who raised unique free thinkers and who never lost her own creative endeavors. I thought the world of her because she had such a grand connection to the world, and she shared it generously.
    Hugs to Sarah and her sisters.

  4. I only had the pleasure of meeting Ann a handful of times in the many years I have been good friends with Sarah. Once at a book reading in Boulder, when one of her new garden mystery books was published and also at a memorable Thanksgiving dinner at her lovely home in the hills of Lyons. She was warm and welcoming and busily keeping her daughters and family on task preparing dinner for a large crowd of family & friends. I experienced a very similar experience to Joline’s recollections of the family. What an amazing and long life she lived! Hugs & deepest condolences to Sarah, all her sisters and the other family members who I know will miss her beyond words.????

  5. I met Annie and Tony in Chicago, through the YMCA. I have to say we had a ball. When I think back to those times I think of laughter, food, creating songs. Sitting outside in all of our yards til too dark and buggy. The most interesting was learning about each other’s lives. Annie always had a story, a good one that would make us look at she and Tony with awe. But, I have to say immediately when I think of Annie, it’s her stunning silver bracelets that she always wore. They were great to be around. The girls were so lucky to have them both ????

  6. Mrs. Ann Ripley always impressed me as a remarkable woman, perceptive, clear-thinking, ever pursuing her vast array of interests with great enthusiasm. She didn’t approach things halfway. Her energy, vitality and focus commanded respect. It is encouraging and stimulating to be around a person like that. Her entire family seems to embody these wonderful traits. What a group of intensely intelligent, creative individuals who all have their very own identities. What legacy. What a life well-lived. Brava, Ann!

  7. Ann was very kind to include me in dinners and holidays at her home. I will always remember her contagious laughter when she told her stories. She was fond of drawing and painting. I enjoyed admiring the art work that hung on her on her walls. Her loss is great but I am a better person for having known her.

  8. What a remarkable woman. She was fun, smart, well read and she was absolutely brilliant. I loved her quick wit, candor, and great sense of humor. I send my love and condolences to Catherine, Sarah, Mary, Emily, Jane and Martha.

  9. My Aunt Ann had a beautiful Soul and always shared her thoughts. My childhood was adorned by her having my cousins all 6 girls. She will be missed. God Bless you Aunt Ann, love Janette

  10. I am so sorry for her passing. My sister Cheryl and I were very young when we used to travel with our parents Ed and Kay to visit your family. We always enjoyed seeing y’all and had a wonderful time. Aunt Ann was so sweet and always made us feel welcome. Prayers for your family as you go through this difficult time. Love Lisa Oldham.

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