By Lisa Allmendinger
At 3:30 a.m. on Monday, July 27, Chelsea lost one of its greatest residents.
Ann Feeney passed on yesterday morning surrounded by family at the home she loved on Washington Street.
For those of you who might not know some of the many “jobs” Ann took on while as a City of Chelsea resident, I’ll list just a small number with which I am familiar.
In addition to being an amazing mother, grandmother and great grandmother, Ann made history when she was elected as the city’s first woman mayor and ran the most efficient, no nonsense City Council meetings I’ve ever covered as a reporter. She was also part of the transition team that moved Chelsea from being a village to a city.
Ann raised her hand and offered to serve as the City of Chelsea’s Downtown Development Authority board secretary for many years and created the most accurate and readable minutes of any board I’ve ever covered.
Prior to this, she also served on the Chelsea District School’s Board of Education and from what I’ve been told, Ann was one of the most active and thoughtful board members who have stepped up to shepherd the best interests of the city’s youth.
On countless occasions, Ann was among the many volunteers weeding, watering and planting the city’s downtown planters. As an active member of the Chelsea Area Garden Club, she was a source of great beauty for the City of Chelsea.
When I moved to the Chelsea community more than 20 years ago, Ann Feeney was one of the first public officials I met. As a reporter for the Ann Arbor News, I introduced myself to the entire City Council and she cordially reciprocated. I liked her upon first meeting. So, pleasantries over, I asked Ann if I could call her if I needed help or an explanation of an issue. She looked me square in the eye and agreed — with a caveat. I will help you, but don’t screw up.
I promised her that I would do my best to get it right.
As the months passed, I called Ann frequently relying on her as a source of fabulous institutional knowledge about all things Chelsea. She never let me down and she always knew the answers.
During that first year, one day Ann said to me, “You are the first reporter I’ve dealt with that consistently gets it right.”
And from that point until today, I knew I had earned her respect. And each time we’d cross paths, our conversations were always a special treat. I’d come home and be renewed that if Ann believed in what I was trying to accomplish that I was succeeding.
I was honored to be asked to be part of a panel of women in Chelsea who were trailblazers. Ann and I sat next to each other telling our stories to a large crowd in The Depot. She told the crowd that night that I was still the only reporter she knew who always got it right. She was an avid supporter and reader of Chelsea Update.
High praise from someone who I considered a mentor and a friend.
Words cannot begin to express how much I’ll miss our chats or her guidance.
And as a postscript, I know if I could call her and ask permission to publish this story, she’d tell me “Well, you got it right, but it’s really not necessary.”
Despite the countless things Ann Feeney did for the City of Chelsea in her lifetime, she never sought press accolades for her many accomplishments.