March 20, 1927-September 15, 2021. Annette Valerie De Vos passed away at the age of 94 in the early morning, Wednesday, September 15. She was preceded in death by her two brothers, Geoffrey and Richard, her husband Wilbur and her son Rick. She is survived by her daughter Catherine, her grandchildren Brent, Eric, Alexis, Michael and Molly and great granddaughter Ivy. Annette was born in London, England. She adored her mother Bertha Davey Cook, father Harry Cook and her two brothers; they were a very close knit family. It was a musical household. Most Christmas seasons her father would take her to hear Handel’s Messiah with score in hand. Her brother Geoffrey played the harmonica. Her Mother played piano, often by ear. As a young girl Annette was expected to sing popular tunes and hymns for the neighbors while her Mother accompanied on the piano. In a recollection, one of the neighbors was so bereft by the break up of her daughter from Geoffrey, that the neighbor clung tightly to brother Richard’s hand during a recital. The siblings stared at each other in shock during the performance, until Richard was able to release his hand and politely say, “it’s getting rather hot in here.” These casual house recitals paid off; as a young girl, Annette was one of two children chosen from her school to perform in a choral concert to sing for the Queen Mother. Annette grew up during World War II. At one point, as a child she was evacuated to the countryside. Because the large mansion in which she stayed with many other girls became close to the military lines, she was forced back to London. She endured the horror of the blackouts, air raid shelters and the Blitz. Neighbors homes might be gone the next morning. One neighbor had an unexploded bomb stuck in their roof. Her older brother Geoffrey was a prisoner of war held by the Japanese, and he perished, buried at sea. Her father died soon after when Annette was only thirteen. These were very sad and difficult times for her family. As an older teen Annette worked for the BBC and would go to dances and out to parties in the evening to escape the pressures of war. At Covent Garden she met her future husband Wilbur at one such dance. He was stationed in London as a member of the Army Air Corp (now considered the Air Force). When she was 19 and he 26, the couple decided to meet in New York and plan their future together. Annette journeyed on the Queen Elizabeth and danced the nights away on the ship. In New York she arrived in open-toed shoes in winter with snow on the ground. (These same shoes were later featured in a fourth grade Halloween costume worn by granddaughter Molly). Annette was met in New York by Wilbur and his two older sisters and their husbands. Annette loved and admired her new in-laws. They expected the couple to marry immediately, as Annette and Wilbur would be traveling alone together by car to settle in St Louis. On the long road trip looking out over the landscape, Annette exclaimed, “where are all the pubs?!” In Saint Louis the couple lived first with Wilbur’s Mother Margaret. One day Annette ventured off shopping using the transit to go downtown. Being from London this was an easy commute for Annette. But when Annette didn’t return when Margaret expected her, Margaret got worried and called the police! Annette worked for AT&T for two years until the couple settled into their own house on Iona Lane and had their children. Annette was 21 when Geoffrey Richard (Rick) was born and 28 when she had Catherine. In 1959 they moved to the house in Chatelaine. Annette enjoyed being a loving housewife and Mother. She was a very athletic woman, excelling at several sports in her youth and middle age; tennis, bowling, volleyball and racquetball were her favorites and she enjoyed hiking, biking and swimming as well, late into life. Following is a recollection from daughter Cathy, “some of my fondest memories were long days spent at the Riviera swimming pool with Mom and her best friend Gillian with children Michael, Jane and Kent. There were tennis courts as well, and the pair would play as we children would picnic and enjoy one another’s company.” Annette loved art and enjoyed visiting art museums. Wilbur knew this when he was wooing her and told her his father was a painter. (He left out the part about his father being a house painter). Annette studied sketching and painting with water colors and produced many lovely pieces. She admired many works produced by friends and teachers and these adorn the walls of her house. Being far from England, Annette was at times prone to homesickness. Luckily she found kinship and made wonderful friendships through the various British groups to which she belonged: the DBE (Daughter’s of the British Empire), TBPA (Transatlantic Brides and Parent’s Association), and most recently the British Connection. On her dresser at home she kept the card from a fellow member stating the British motto, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” She lived by this and practiced it. The stiff upper lip, stoicism, good humor and optimism were her strong character traits. Wilbur’s friends also became her friends and she enjoyed their company immensely. They often gathered for cards and other games, parties and celebrations. Annette was an excellent Scrabble player. Following is a memory from Cathy, “she taught me well, and she was an expert at placing the two letter word and the seven. We would have tournaments together and she was a fierce competitor. You could never let your guard down, because you might think you were winning and she would come from behind and steal the game with just a tile or two.” And this is a memory from grandson Brent: “I have fond memories of playing games with Grandma who would never let you win, while enjoying afternoon tea.” Annette and Wilbur loved traveling and may have visited every state in the US or close to it. They also took trips to England, the European Continent, Cancun and Canada. Their favorite way to travel later in life was to scout about in their camper, enjoying nature in state parks especially in Missouri. Annette cherished being a member of Christ Church Cathedral. Throughout her life she remained a devout Christian. Not a day would go by that she didn’t start with Bible study, meditation and spiritual contemplation. In her later years she and Wilbur were very grateful for their friends who would bring them Communion when they couldn’t attend church. She was a voluminous reader and curious about so many subjects. Her house is filled with poetry and books about philosophy, psychology, religion, medicine, science, the meaning of life, and so many other subjects, fiction and nonfiction alike. She was especially fascinated with outer space, and if she had been given the chance would have traveled in a spacecraft. Annette adored her grandchildren. Following are recollections from Brent: “I remember when she would come to visit and stay over at my house on Long Island. I would sit on her lap and eat grapefruit for breakfast. She would put sugar on mine so I could stand the sour taste as a 3-4 year old. I have fond memories of visiting Grandma and going to the St. Louis Zoo, seeing a massive turtle that was as big as me and 80 years old! She knew I was so impressed by the turtle that she bought me a Christmas ornament of a tortoise which I still enjoy hanging on my Christmas tree. I loved her infectious laugh, her English accent and how she would call me ‘Dear’.” Here are some memories from Alexis: “I remember as a kid Grandma got me into soft boiled eggs in these adorable little egg cups. She always cooked them perfectly. And one of my favorite things about Grandma was her sense of humor. She was always laughing and making everyone around her do the same. Her happiness radiated to everyone around her and it was impossible not to smile in her presence. She remained that way until her last moments with us.” Annette loved her home. She loved all of the things in it and the fact that Wilbur had built so many things for the house. She wanted to remain in her home until the end and she got her wish. Many, many thanks to family and friends for your support of Annette and Cathy on their hospice journey together. Annette was so very happy to see you and to receive your beautiful cards, flowers and messages.
Services; A memorial service will be held at Christ Church Cathedral on Fri. Nov. 5th at 12:30PM. Interment JB National Cemetery. Donations can be made in honor of Annette to the Alzheimer’s Association (on behalf of Wilbur), the American Cancer Society or Habitat for Humanity.