Ann B. Brietenbauch
June 18, 1922 – May 15, 2022
The family of Anna Belle “Ann” Brietenbauch regrets to report her passing at The Lighthouse in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 15th, just a month short of her milestone 100th birthday. In her almost century-long life, Ann was truly one of “The Greatest Generation.”
She was born on June 18, 1922, in Westside, Iowa, to Carl J. Schoenjahn and Catherina Kracht Schoenjahn, the last of six siblings. After her father’s death at the height of the Depression, Ann and her mother lived on a farm near Westside. Ann completed high school there in 1939. Unusual for many women then, she attended Park College in Kansas City, Missouri, and business school in Omaha, Nebraska.
While in Omaha, she met the man who would become her lifelong love, Robert L. “Bob” Brietenbauch, perhaps attracted to him at first by his flashy Harley motorcycle. As if living through the Depression wasn’t enough, the war in Europe was escalating. Bob was called into military service. He and Ann wrote each other faithfully while he was in basic training. After basic, in what must have seemed like a whirlwind, they were married at St. Bernard Catholic Church on November 1, 1943; moved to Brackettville, Texas; met their first scorpions (and other desert creatures) while Bob helped train troops at Fort Clark in the Big Bend region; and endured separation again when Bob was deployed to Europe in early 1944.
Bob was in the 4th wave landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day and served as an aerial forward observer as The Big Red One fought its way through France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and eventually to Germany. He was awarded a Bronze Star for bravery. Bob guarded German POWs in Czechoslovakia while awaiting possible transfer to fight in the Pacific.
The end of WWII marked new beginnings together in Omaha. Ann built a career in the financial world, working at the First National Bank in Omaha, then joining the Farm Credit Bank in 1964. She earned promotions, eventually becoming Executive Assistant to the President in 1976. She was feted at a grand retirement party in July 1985. Throughout her work life, she inspired other women through her involvement in business and social organizations.
It wasn’t all about work, of course. Ann and Bob had a wide circle of friends. They enjoyed dancing at the German-American Club, playing bridge, going on annual hunting trips, playing golf, and—briefly—operating a sailboat (“The best days of the boat were when we bought it and when we sold it,” they joked). Ann was a member of PEO, The Birds, and The Lunch Bunch. She was an Elder in Central Presbyterian Church (later merged with First Presbyterian Church). After they retired, they indulged their love of travel in the U.S. and abroad. They also seized opportunities to get together with Ann’s siblings, traveling to see them or hosting visits from them. “Your place is the best place to visit in the world,” wrote sister Alice Thomson in 1976.
Perhaps their greatest joy was being with one or more of “The Children,” Ann and Bob’s many nieces and nephews. Their doors and arms were always open, whether you needed a listening ear, a hug, a place to stay, or a home base to gather for reunions or other special events. Sadly, some of those events were memorial services for Ann’s sisters or brother, and then also for Bob, who passed in August 2008. He was inurned in the Westside Cemetery, following a funeral with military honors.
One of the last great reunions was on June 18, 2017, when we marked Ann’s 95th birthday with singing, dancing, and a birthday cake, basking in all the love and happiness she brought to us and others whose lives she touched. Those others include long-time friends, like Joyce Lane, and children of friends, such as Barbara and Pat Zeig, who—as long as Ann was able—would pick her up for special holiday meals at their home. We will miss her dearly.
Preceding her in death were her parents; her husband, Bob; her siblings and their spouses: Pauline (Fred) Taylor, Lafe (Alice) Schoenjahn, Lucille Yontz Caskey, Helen (Nick) Schwarzenbach, and Alice (Stan) Thomson; two nieces, Gretchen Triplett and Janet Merryweather; two nephews, Richard (Jeanette) Taylor and Robert Thomson; and her brother- and sister-in-law, Bruce and Gail Brietenbauch.
Remaining to remember Ann are her trusted advisor and great-nephew, Scott Taylor of Omaha; her nephews and nieces and spouses: Scott’s wife, Paula, Roger (Maryln) Schwarzenbach, Don (Diane Taylor), Jane (Dan) Snyder, Ginger (Bill) Kaczmarek, Cathy (Lucky) Shultz, Joanie (David) Kaney, Beki Thomson (Dave Fullerton), Jim Thomson, Carl (Deb) Thomson, and Ron Merryweather; and dozens of great-nephews and -nieces.
The family wishes to thank the management and staff of Lakeside Village, The Lighthouse, and Endless Journey Hospice for their wonderful care of Ann. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Endless Journey Hospice, The Lighthouse, and First Presbyterian Church, all in Omaha, Nebraska.
MEMORIAL SERVICE: Saturday, June 4th at 1pm at The Lighthouse, 17600 Arbor St., Omaha. INTERMENT: Sunday, June 5th at 1pm at Westside, Iowa Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Endless Journey Hospice, The Lighthouse, or First Presbyterian Church, all in Omaha.
To view a live broadcast of the Memorial Service, please visit www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button on the home page.