Anna Belle Burnsed entered this world under very harsh conditions on September 26, 1928, but due to her own strong will and self-determination, Ann attained career success and found happiness in a life well lived.
At the ill-advised rose-colored picture beckoning of her maternal Grandmother, her parents, Herndon Emerson Harris and Emma Mae (Kruger) Harris and toddler brother, Eddie, had recently moved from the comforts and peaceful life with close relatives and friends in her Father's hometown of Oswego in scenic southeast Kansas to the ill-fated farmlands of rural Oklahoma just prior to the oncoming hardships of the Dust Bowl years, living in a tent next to her Grandmother's house for several years near the Eakley/Colony area of Caddo County. Ann arrived two months prematurely weighing only five pounds but survived and enjoyed good health for most of her 90 years.
Life was not easy for the family of 4 enduring the Dust Bowl as they moved from farm to farm around the areas of Carnegie, Anadarko, Cyril, Washita and Broxton. So she was required to attend various schools throughout those years which strengthened her to possess a strong personality with determination to accomplish success in life.
She was the oldest daughter in the family which expanded to 6 boys and 2 girls. Since she was the oldest girl, she was called upon to be her Mother's Helper with caring for the succeeding siblings, helping with meal preparation, housework, canning and doing laundry on a scrub board, all in addition to keeping up with school assignments and sometimes picking cotton, a common Fall event in the lives of farm children if time permitted. Schools were often a few miles away, so she and the two oldest boys rode upon one horse together to and from school.
She did a good job with her studies, in fact, wanting to learn even more than required, thus spurring her to do the same in her jobs as an adult.
The family moved to Oklahoma City in January, 1944. after her Father was hired for work at Wilson's in Stockyards City. And soon her Mother was hired at Douglass Aircraft in Midwest City as a Rosie the Riveter, to build planes for the WWII effort to defeat tyranny. So Ann continued to help with the younger siblings' care as well as housework, all the while attending school and the nearby St. Mark's Methodist Church where she made numerous friends at both places, including her future husband of over 60 years, Sam Burnsed. When all the younger siblings reached school age, Ann applied for and was hired as a clerk at the Kress Store in downtown OKC to work in the perfume and jewelry counters. She often said how great that opportunity made her feel!
She graduated from Central High School in OKC while continuing her position at Kress. Near the end of her senior year she was called upon to accompany her five-year-old sister, Mary, to a quarantine facility on North Eastern Avenue in OKC for 2 weeks of treatment and recovery from diphtheria which was on a rampage outbreak at the time, claiming many lives of children and young adults. She has said it was not all a bad experience for her since friends and family often came to visit, standing outside the windows to discuss all the latest, and she got to be relieved of household chores as well as school assignments, even to the extent of being excused from being required to take her senior year-end final exams, being allowed to graduate nevertheless!
Also during the late 1940's and early 1950's she married her first and only love, Sam, and gave birth to their two sons, Randy and Ricky.
After working at several uninteresting jobs, she was hired at the Braniff Airways office in downtown OKC, which led to her being hired to work in the Personnel Office at Tinker Air Force Base in the mid 1950's. While at this job she was required to make often contact in the Small Business Office and when doing this she began to notice the bulletin boards were covered with postings of Notices for Bid in which all various and sundry materiel necessary for the damaged or worn aircraft brought to the Base could be repaired and once again qualify as air worthy.
As time went by she began to realize a need existed for the bidding info to be transmitted to the suppliers and manufacturers in a faster, more convenient manner. So she decided to begin contacting such companies to determine if they would be interested in hiring her as their rep to gather the latest posting info in a typed list and mail such lists to them every other day to keep them abreast to determine if their product was one desired on which a bid could be submitted. She was the originator of this process and established Ann Burnsed Bid Reporter service, which became a national success with customers from around the entire USA, lasting from 1959 to 1992, around the time the Internet became the means of instant communication. She retired to travel and enjoy her remaining years with Sam and their many friends who enjoyed many activities in common.
Since she and Sam had bought 10 acres of land 2 miles north of Shawnee, they acquired a few horses so they could become active in a club of horse lovers called Oklahoma Equestrian Trailriders Association. They participated very strongly in this club for many years and helped with organizing numerous events around the State. This brought them much happiness together. And they were awarded medals for their years of service to the group.
Also she and Sam were extremely active in the Shawnee Youth Rodeo and devoted over 15 years to this event for about 10 days every July, drawing contestants from many states in the USA and from Canada and elsewhere. Ann was a chief organizer working in the office keeping the latest event results posted on bulletin boards for the contestants to come in to see how they ranked in competition each day. Sam was busy putting up banners around the 3 arenas and keeping the arenas in good condition.
Again, they were awarded medals for their devoted work over the span of those 15 years. And they were both involved in the group putting Welcome Boxes together and ordering, sorting and distributing newly designed Rodeo tee shirts for contestants and volunteers.
In her latter years before her illness progressed so quickly, Ann volunteered at North Rock Creek School as a test monitor a few years and also donated funds for athletic uniforms for the students.
Her life was not without tragedy. Somehow she was able to gather strength to persevere throughout the heavy grief each time:
It was devastating when Randy was killed in Vietnam in 1968 at age 20 and engaged to be married.
And in 1988 Ricky succumbed to blood clots in the lungs at age 35 after establishing a highly successful balloon bouquet business in NYC for over a decade.
She was also preceded in death by her husband, Sam, in April, 2011 due to ALS; also by her older brother, Eddie, in 1953 at age 26 after being struck by a car along North Eastern Ave in OKC driven by a young motorist during a blinding rainstorm; and in May of this year her brother, Ben, died of lengthy health complications. All of these are interred at Resthaven Cemetery in our family plots.
Ann is survived by 4 brothers and their wives:
Lewis & Jean Harris of Collinsville OK; Stan & Betty Harris of Enid, OK; Don & Robyn Harris of Savannah, TX, and Dan & Kayoko Harris of Tokyo, Japan.
And one sister: Mary Harris Billey of Edmond, OK.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Belfair Memory Care of Shawnee for their devoted care of our Big Sister Ann during this difficult year she was there in her struggle with this horrendous illness.
Also we wish to thank the staff of Mission Hospice for their contributions to caring for our Beloved Sister.
We miss her tremendously already.
We would suggest that in lieu of flowers, making a donation to a charity would be her wish.