Farm Collector

Anna Mae

By Staff

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.

Gerry Lestz

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.

  • Published on Nov 1, 1994
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