She was born the third child of Thomas William and Madeline Rose Griffis and was raised in Cayuga Indiana but gave her heart to a Warren County blue eyed, red head in 1953. Theirs was a true love story, from the time she laid eyes on him driving his nieces to the Cayuga dances, that lasted all their lives. Anna and Kenny were so in love that from the beginning, with eyes only for each other, they got married on October 31stand didn’t realize until later that it was Halloween. Due to this choice, she spent many an anniversary parading costumed children from house to house saying Trick or Treat. They worked side by side all those years to make the best possible life for their family and celebrated sixty years together before he preceded her in death in 2014.
Anna was a dark skinned, brown eyed brunette with a passion for fuchsia or red lipstick. She was not just another pretty face, she was a talented from scratch cook, baker (including fabulous wedding cakes), gardener (for home canning and truck patches to sell to local restaurants and from a stand), artist (many homes are blessed with a painting, a painted saw, rolling pin or dish), seamstress (including prom and wedding dresses), poet, and avid reader. She could pluck a chicken or skin a squirrel with the best of ‘em. She chorded guitar to Kenny’s lead, she sang and was known to dance the jitterbug in the middle of the kitchen. She loved to play scrabble, cards and other games. Her eyes twinkled, her laugh was infectious and she was a foodie.
When Anna cooked, she used a handful of this and a pinch of that, rarely using a written recipe or measuring cup. She was especially known for her 14-day pickles, tomato noodles (a Van Pelt dish), homemade catsup and salsa, cinnamon rolls, applesauce and crazy cakes, ginger and sugar cookies, peanut butter fudge, divinity and homemade pizzas and later kung pao chicken. At Christmas time family and friends were blessed with trays of goodies.
She is survived by her four children, Ronda (Jerry) Conrad, Kenneth Van Pelt, Steven (Susan) Van Pelt and Janet Van Pelt; her four grandchildren, Lisa Conrad, Karen (Robert) Morgan, Charles (Amber) Van Pelt and Emily (Ian Jackson) Perigo; her seven great-grandchildren, Aaron Simonton, Katelynn (Matt) Groff, Brian Simonton, Sean Van Pelt, Kailie Van Pelt, Miles and Baylor Jackson and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband of sixty years, Kenneth E. Van Pelt, Sr., her parents, her sisters Mary Jane Clark and Jean Johnston, her brother Thomas Griffis, her granddaughters Lori Beth and Amy Lynn Conrad.
Losing Anna Jo, leaves a gaping hole in our lives. She will be missed in ways that we cannot even contemplate right now. As much as we hate to say goodbye, we have a lifetime of good memories and laughs to remember her by. It’s those memories, stories, mementos and pictures that will carry us through. She left this world in a wonderful mystical way; as the hospice chaplain ended his prayer over her, the French patio doors to her room spontaneously flew open and she breathed her last. We imagine her soul saying, “I’m out of here” and flying to heaven to reunite with Kenny. That gives us peace in our loss and we hope by sharing this it gives you the same.
Visitation will be at Grady Funeral Home in West Lebanon, IN on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 from 10:00 a.m. until service time at noon with JoAnn McLain Moore officiating. Interment will follow at West Lebanon Cemetery. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to Compassus St. Vincent Hospice, 8450 N Payne Rd., Suite 100, Indianapolis, IN 46261.