Ann Byrnes Garman Pitcher died peacefully, and with her characteristic elegance and serenity unshaken, early on the morning of December 13th at Anne Arundel Medical Center. At her side were her two youngest children, Eileen Garman Theis and Chris Garman.
Ann, born in Great Neck, New York, in 1932, had lived in Bowie and been a St. Pius parishioner since 1967. After growing up in Great Neck as the daughter of Edward Byrnes and Marie Hillmann Byrnes, and attending Great Neck High, she went on to The College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, New Jersey, where she served as President of her senior class of 1953 and as a Sodality member all four years. Her classmates remarked on her poise, her dry humor, her athletic ability and her talent for dancing, all qualities that stayed with her throughout her life.
After marrying John R. Garman in 1953, the pair lived on Staten Island and had three children before moving to Ann’s hometown of Great Neck. After the birth of their fifth child, they moved to Chicago, where their sixth child was born. A move to Minneapolis was followed by the family’s move to Bowie, where all six children attended Somerset Elementary, Belair Junior High School, and Bowie Senior High.
John died in 1969, leaving Ann a widow with six children under the age of 14. Ever resourceful, Ann worked as a substitute teacher to accommodate her children’s’ school schedules, eventually becoming an administrative assistant on Capitol Hill in the office of Senator Alan Cranston (D-CA). From the Hill she went on to work for FADICA (Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities) until her retirement.
In 1984, she met and married James Pitcher, with whom she traveled extensively through Elderhostel, keeping immaculate scrapbooks of their trips. Highlights included an audience with Pope John Paul II in Rome and a stint on canal boats in England.
Throughout the years after her young widowhood in 1969, Ann was a member of the Study Group, members of St. Pius who met regularly to pray and discuss Catholic concerns. She was the last surviving member of the Group after Rita Souweine died in April of this year.
Ann was always athletic, whether swimming at Belair Bath and Tennis or doing her Royal Canadian Mounted Police exercises at home, and always resourceful, creating magical birthdays and holidays for her children with nothing more than a roll of butcher paper and colored magic markers. She was always well dressed, and her presence was always calming to everyone around her, including children and pets. Her devout Catholicism always had room for her sharp wit and intelligence. Throughout her active years, she was busy volunteering at the school or the church in addition to working, and in the 70s gave a rousing speech against the banning of books at a rally at Bowie Senior High. She was a long-time subscriber to Arena Stage and greatly enjoyed British television in her later years.
She was predeceased by her only brother, Edward Byrnes, by her husbands, John Garman and James Pitcher, and by her oldest son, James Edward Garman, who died in August of this year. She is survived by children Jack Garman of Los Angeles, Ann Marie Rittenberg of New York, Patricia Curtin of Ocean Pines, Christopher Garman of Annapolis, and Eileen Theis of Bowie; by grandchildren Brooke Garman, David Garman, Daniel Theis, Virginia Theis, Megan Curtin, Polly Rittenberg, Julia Rittenberg, and Gracie Rittenberg, and by great-grandson Colson Curtin. For some years she had been lovingly cared for at home by her youngest daughter, Eileen, whose joie de vivre kept them both laughing every day. Her calm and soothing presence, dry wit, and wise and comforting approach to life will be missed by all who knew her.
A Memorial Gathering will be held at Beall Funeral Home on Thursday, December 28th, at 2:00 pm, followed at 3:00 pm by a Memorial Service. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests making a donation to the ASPCA, https://www.aspca.org/ways-to-give.