We'll All Miss Her!
Anna Mae Branyan, who was writing for Stemgas up to the day she died August 11, 1994 was a compassionate, caring and deeply religious person who was a friend to several generations of our readers.
When I say 'We'll all miss her,' I refer not only to her family and the Stemgas staff in Lancaster, but also the thousands of readers whose lives she touched through her columns and other writings, over many years.
Anna Mae joined Stemgas when it was owned by the Rev. Elmer Ritzman, who founded IMA and the company in 1946. IMA was the only publication he had, but she proved an . excellent assistant and served in many capacities.
The fledgling company grew and Elmer started GEM in 1966. The magazines that Anna Mae helped prepare were winning new friends for Stemgas, because of the coverage they received, and the warmth of feeling between the company and its readers.
When Mrs. Earlene Ritzman, Elmer's widow, decided to sell Stemgas to us in 1973, there was some question as to whether Anna Mae would continue in her editorial capacity. She had recovered from serious illness, and was active with the company at the time. When she agreed to continue as editor, we all heaved a big sigh of relief.
She provided continuity all these years. She was the one person who had been with the firm for so long. Many readers looked on her as a personal friend. Her columns were really letters to her pals out there in Engine and. And she frequently included religious thoughts, as well as messages of good cheer and encouragement.
An interesting sidelight: Her late husband Ed was a railroad engineer and frequently brought trains from Harrisburg to Lancaster. We in Lancaster were given his schedule, and since we sometimes worried about the mails, Ed would bring Anna Mae's envelope of written materials to the Lancaster depot and Jim Ament, who was with us then, would pick it up. It was a very unusual 'special delivery' arrangement.
Anna Mae was generous. She sent me some gifts, and one of them was a book on printing, in 1977. She wrote in the book, a message which included this thought:
'May your next years be full of happy days and rewarding hours.'
Her early years with us included sending items such as subscriptions and advertising orders or payments to Helen Ament, who was then our business manager.
She tried to attend all the Stemgas Christmas parties held in Lancaster, about an hour's trip from her home in Enola. All our people in Lancaster knew her. We respected her work ethic, and enjoyed her friendship.
Yes, we'll all miss her. We have extended our sympathy to Keli Flannery, her daughter who worked for a time for Stemgas, and all the other members of her family. She was a fine person, who overcame severe health problems and always looked ahead with optimism. At sixty-nine, she had lived a praiseworthy life of solicitude and service.
Anna Mae and Ed, on the left, with their five children in 1990. From left in the back row next to Ed are Eddie, Donnie and Tommie. In the front row, Dana Boyd is in the center and Keli Flannery is at right. In addition to her children, Anna Mae is survived by six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and her brother, Dan Keeley.