Ann's Story

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Ann Witmore Burger, age 92 of Moravia, Iowa passed away Thursday, January 12, 2017 at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa.
Ann Witmore Burger was born in Rich Hill, Missouri, on October 22, 1924, to Otto Merle and Nora Emma (Beshore) Witmore. Throughout her childhood and high school, she attended the Happy Hill Church of the Brethren, a congregation founded by her maternal grandmother, Annie Royal Beshore, for whom she was named. Ann graduated from Butler High School in Butler, Missouri, in 1941 at age sixteen. While attending McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas, she met and married Richard Allen Burger on August 22, 1943. She earned a BA in sociology with a minor in music from the University of Chicago in 1945 while Dick attended Bethany Theological Seminary in Elgin, Illinois.
In 1944, Dick and Ann were appointed to the mission field in West Africa by the Mission Board of the Church of the Brethren. They departed for Nigeria in December, 1945, during the demobilization of American troops at the end of World War II. They served at Wandali and Chibok mission stations and pioneered the Church of the Brethren mission at Shafa. Ann managed a dispensary serving over 100 patients daily and an elementary school of over 200 children. One day a family with an orphaned baby arrived at Ann's door. Ann taught the newborn baby to drink warm milk from a cup and then taught the grandmother to feed the baby with fresh milk and sterile tin cans that Ann provided her every morning and evening. The baby thrived, and in a few weeks another orphan was brought to Ann. Ann raised six orphans in this manner.

After their return to the States in 1956, Dick and Ann pastored churches in Indiana and Udell and Ottumwa, Iowa. Ann taught music at the Udell Consolidated School. Her mixed chorus received a I rating at the State Music Contest. Ann loved music: she was an excellent pianist and violinist as well as a singer. She completed graduate work in education at Drake University while teaching fifth grade at Central Elementary School in Centerville, Iowa. Ann also taught for the Moulton and Moravia school districts. She taught English at Howar Junior High in Centerville until her retirement in May, 1981, after 26 years of teaching.

Ann was preceded in death by two sons: John (June), a retired teacher from Ottumwa, Iowa, and Samuel Curtis (Theresa), an entrepreneur from Fairbanks, Alaska. She is survived by her husband Dick, sister Eula, and three children: Dr. Richard Burger (Gail), Annette Graves (Andrew), and Nonie Downing (Chip). She has sixteen grandchildren and three step-grandchildren: John D. Burger (Valerie), Julie Jeske (Randy), Nick Burger (Dawn), Emily Burger (Lars), Heidi DelGado (Rafa), Saul Burger (Laura), Shane Burger, Tell Burger (Kate), Joel Burger (Jessica), William Vittetoe (Melissa), Laura Vittetoe (Steven), Andrew Vittetoe, Philip Vittetoe, Alix Rose Vittetoe, Kate Liddy, Jane Liddy, Bobbi Bowell (Tres), Luke Zanella, and Courtney Kessler (Mike). Ann also has sixteen great-grandchildren. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were the crowning joy and passion of her later life.
Funeral services will be held at 3:00PM on Sunday, January 15, 2017 at the Fairview Church Of The Brethren in Unionville, Iowa with Pastor Andrew Graves officiating. A visitation will take place prior to the service on Sunday, January 15, 2017 from 1-3PM at the Fairview Church Of The Brethren. Burial will take place at the Eaton Cemetery in Unionville, Iowa. Memorials have been established to the Nigerian Crisis Fund, and may be mailed to Lange Funeral Home and Crematory, 1900 South 18th Street, Centerville, Iowa 52544. Condolences may be shared online at www.langefh.com.
Published on January 16, 2017
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