It is with sad hearts that we share the passing of our colleague and friend, Anne Wald, Deputy Executive Director of National PTA’s Meetings and Field Services. It has been one month since Anne died on Sunday, March 25, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Our prayers are with her family, Chris, Erin, Grace and Jacob, as well as her parents, siblings and a standing room only church full of people who joined together on March 27 to celebrate her life.
For those of you who didn’t know Anne, she embodied the same spirit as our National PTA founders: fearless determination. It is a tremendous honor to share more about Anne’s fearless determination as a PTA leader with you.
Within a few weeks of starting at PTA, a bird flew in my office window. Scared of birds, I leaped up and ran down the hall yelling “Bird! Bird!” Like the amazing mom that she was, Anne swooped in to help with the rescue, fearlessly safeguarding me in a window-less office, and helping others to shoo the bird outside where it was free to fly again. We sat in the hallway afterward, me breathless and shaking, and Anne laughing, trying to calm me down. I remember she assured me it was ok and not to be embarrassed, but perhaps I should keep my window closed from now on like the office memo said.
This funny memory symbolizes how Anne worked as a fearless protector. As Deputy Executive Director, Anne championed what is so important to PTA’s mission delivery – our brand and our people. Through her leadership, she ensured that staff provided high quality resources and customer service to our members and PTA leaders nationwide. She fearlessly voiced what was best for our PTA members and she insisted our strategies consistently carried out the PTA brand promise.
Anne took the stairs. Many times, I’d be coming up with my coffee or she’d be going down to a meeting and we’d pass each other along the way and exchange a friendly chat about kids, meetings, weather, etc. I never knew how sick Anne felt day-to-day because she never showed it. She was always focused on our objectives – and she always took the stairs. I remember one time leaving a meeting on the first floor, feeling a little lazy en route to the third floor and thinking, “Elevator?” But then I saw Anne walk straight for the stairs as determined as ever. I followed her.
Anne worked throughout her journey with cancer – and she worked with unbelievable determination to maintain the same level of productivity. She was constantly focused on how National PTA could improve our services to volunteers across the country – and her determination and resolve were catchy. We followed her.
Anne Wald loved music. Now her spirit lives on through a song she helped us all to love. You may not know this, but Anne was responsible for tracking down the opening song for the 2012 National PTA Convention –Every Child, One Voice.
The moment was magical: more than a thousand PTA leaders dancing, tearing up, cheering with pride, and getting goose bumps as we listened to this song for the first time together. Anne was right – it was the perfect song to inspire the crowd. The song lives on through PTA leaders’ phones and PTA events. Every time we hear it, the same spirited emotions arise – PTA camaraderie and pride.
Sadly, Anne wasn’t able to join us in San Jose for that magical moment. But in the midst of that moment, we all knew – she created it. I’ll never forget her for that. I don’t think any of us will.
No more stairs Anne – it’s your time to fly.
If you would like to read more about Anne, share a message with her family, or donate to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in her honor, please visit: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/washingtonpost/obituary.aspx?n=anne-s-wald&pid=163875493.