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Ann Williams LaFontaine


 

$1.6 Million Dollar Bequest
Lifelong Buckeye, Ann W. LaFontaine, Establishes Research Fund

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Lifelong Buckeye, Ann Williams LaFontaine, Supports Eye ResearchAnn LaFontaine was a buckeye, through and through having been born in Clintonville on Brevoort Road within walking distance of The Ohio State University.  She was always proud of her big buckeye family.  Her only brother John attended Ohio State, along with several of her cousins, including Lillie (Carr) Grossman.  Ann admired Lillie who served as a volunteer nurses’ aid for the American Red Cross during WW I and WW II, and married the renowned OSU veterinary professor, Dr. James Grossman.

Ann was tall, striking, and independent.  Growing up during the “Roaring Twenties,” she embodied the spirit of her generation.  Ann was very involved in student life at Ohio State and wrote the “Gadabout” articles for The Lantern, OSU’s student paper.

It was an exciting time to be a buckeye.  Women in universities were on the rise and represented nearly a third of the student body, OSU track star Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the Olympics in Berlin, and the first “Script Ohio” was performed by the Ohio State Band.  Perhaps it was these and other events that instilled her lifelong love for Ohio State.

After earning her Bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1937, she landed a job at the Columbus Dispatch.  She later moved to Toledo and worked for The Blade.  Eventually, Ann moved to Detroit and worked at The Dearborn Inn, a historic luxury hotel commissioned by Henry Ford, who she met while working there.  She also met her husband, Timothy LaFontaine, a Canadian from Ontario.

They retired in the 1950s and moved to sunny Florida.  After moving around for a while, they eventually settled in Stuart, FL—which she loved.  Ann did not let retirement slow her down.  She volunteered, invested in the stock market, handled her own accounts, and remained very interested in news from Ohio State and the Buckeyes.

Ann adored travelling and her tireless interest in different countries and cultures led her to all corners of the globe and every continent except Antarctica.  She and Tim loved playing host to her brother John, his wife Midge, and their three children, Ann, David, and Martha.  Her niece Martha fondly remembers a 38ft classic power boat which her uncle and aunt would take to the Florida Keys or the Bahamas whenever they had the opportunity. 
“They would take us boating or fishing,” said Martha.  “Aunt Ann even caught a record-setting Wahoo fish.  She was amazing.  She was a lifelong learner and an avid reader.  Even into her nineties, she was reading six newspapers a day and volunteering her time to her local library.”

Her continuing allegiance to Ohio State was impressive.  Though most of her retirement was spent in Florida, she visited her brother’s summer home in Oak Harbor, OH and stayed connected to her buckeye roots.  With such a deep devotion for OSU, it is not surprising that she included her alma mater in her will.  In a large bequest to Ohio State, she selected the James Cancer Hospital, the University Libraries, and the Havener Eye Institute to benefit from her generosity.

Her gift to ophthalmology was inspired by her admiration for her cousin Lillie, who was widowed young and who had developed age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a potentially blinding eye condition.  Ann’s gift will be used to further vision research and will not only help patients with AMD, but many ocular conditions.  We are very grateful for Ann’s legacy to the future of eye care.