Ann B. Fanning

Ann B. FanningAnn B. Fanning of Ridgecrest passed away peacefully Nov. 14, 2017, in the company of her husband, Ward, and her sister, Lynn Dodds, after putting up a courageous four-year battle against Stage 4 lung cancer.

She was born Ann Gowens Bonner in 1945 to Ruth Newell Bonner and Robert Flavo Bonner in San Diego. Growing up in Imperial Beach, she graduated from Mar Vista High School in 1963. She then attended Western New Mexico University and later earned an associate’s degree at Southwestern Junior College in Chula Vista.

While attending San Diego State College, she left to accept an offer from the Social Security Administration. She went to work in Monterey, Calif., where she met her first husband, Marcos Renfro. To accept another promotion a few years later, she readily transferred to the Lancaster, Calif., office. Arriving there on a hot July afternoon amid blowing sand, she sat in the car and cried.

Working as a field representative, Ann traveled thousands of miles a month in a car meticulously maintained by her master mechanic husband, to meet with people in Ridgecrest, Trona, Death Valley Junction, Shoshone, Lone Pine, Lee Vining, Bridgeport and Coleville. She said she had so many speeding tickets her driver’s license was soon restricted to “work only.”

With Ridgecrest predicted to keep growing, she was transferred here in 1976 to open a Social Security office. She was soon joined by a second representative, John Powers. After living in Monterey, and now experiencing the desert, husband Marcos refused to make the move.

Ann came to love her new home town and her new family of seniors. In 1980 she married Ward Fanning, who worked for Kerr McGee in Trona. Over the next several years, Ann found great satisfaction in community involvement becoming a member of the Ridgecrest Hospital corporate board and later an original member of the Hospital Foundation. She also served with the Eastern Sierra Rural Health Committee. However, her proudest achievement was serving with Rose Varga as chairman of the Action Committee for Extended Care, a group to bring the Beverly Manor (now Bella Sera) nursing home to Ridgecrest.

Unfortunately, after a long bout with and surgery for Crohn’s Disease, Ann needed to retire and regain her health. She worked for a few local businesses and more committees off and on, then eventually went to work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Her job was supposed to be part time, but it actually turned into full-time work and resulted in numerous long-term assignments throughout California and Hawaii. The longest assignments were for Hurricane Iniki in Hawaii, the Los Angeles riots and the Northridge earthquake. After three years of being away from home so much, she gave it up and went to work in human relations for Sverdrup until retiring in the early 2000s.

As for interests, few would suspect that the dedicated little Social Security lady had been a wild motorcycle rider in her youth. When Ann was a teenager, her father refused to teach her to drive, so her friends taught her to drive on a Triumph Bonneville. For the rest of her life, she still braked with her left foot.

Also, in those earlier days, one time when she was returning home to Sunset Cliffs on her brand-new custom chopper, the brakes failed. She was able to jump off before it went over the cliff and crumpled on the beach.

Her favorite memories of the era were the impromptu trips her group took to New Mexico and back for great chili.

She finally gave up the two-wheelers, and her later life was more sedate. For many years she joined her husband in photographing the local wildflowers and the Sierra Nevada scenery. Never having a dog as a child, she was won over by an inherited mutt that, despite its size, loved to sleep on her lap. By the time it died, she was hooked on having a dog, but it needed to be smaller. Her two new babies were the cutest of Papillons, Devon and Angel.

She enjoyed walking them and taking them through obedience training. They were a barrel of fun to watch when Angel would walk up and slap Devon in the face and start off a wild chase through the house and out into the yard for Figure 8s around the trees and back until both were totally exhausted.

There wasn’t as much travel as she wished, but her favorite trips were to see son Chris and explore NYC where he now lived and to South Africa for his wedding.

In the last 10 years or so, Ann made some of the strongest friendships she has ever had while participating in senior exercise and yoga classes. Their Friday coffee group was the highlight of her week.

Ann was preceded in death by grandmother S. Ann Reames, father Robert F. Bonner, and mother Ruth Newell Bonner. She is survived by husband Ward Fanning, stepson Christian H. Fanning, granddaughter Julia May Fanning, and siblings June (Bruce) Knight, Jean Bonner, Susan Bonner, Lynn (Kim) Dodds and Robert F. Bonner, Jr.

At the request of the deceased, there will be no formal service. There will be a celebration of life with friends and family. In lieu of flowers, please make any donations to a favorite charity.

— Submitted by the family of Ann Fanning

Story First Published: 2017-11-22