Annie Carter Mersmann Memorial Fund
Honoring the Life of Annie Carter Mersmann by supporting programs to support grieving kids at Annie’s Hope.
The Annie Carter Mersmann Memorial Fund as honors the legacy of Annie Carter Mersmann, who died of cancer in September of 2004, leaving a husband and three very young children. All proceeds contributed to the fund will be donated to Annie’s Hope, a community-based nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive support services for children, teens and their families who are grieving the death of someone significant.
In September of 2004, Annie’s battle with cancer came to an end on Thursday, September 30 one week after her 37th birthday. The fund has been developed by Ken Mersmann, Annie’s husband, in her memory on the tenth anniversary of Annie’s death and has been established to bring awareness to children and families who are coping with the death of loved ones.
Kind, funny and spiritual are just a few words to describe Annie, a woman who took pride in contributing to her community and who was passionate about her children, her faith and her friends. Born in St. Louis, Annie attended Visitation Academy, an all-girls independent Catholic school, and later attended St. Louis University, and University of Chicago where she received a bachelor and master of science, respectively, in Chemistry. In 1994, Annie married Ken Mersmann and together they would later welcome three beautiful children to their family: Joy, Gracie and Mark.
Throughout Annie’s life, she enjoyed volunteering in her community and was devoted to many personal passions – mentoring teens, young adult ministry, natural childbirth and parenting, bible study and spiritual growth. While living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Ken and Annie were part of their local parish where they touched the lives of more than 5,000 individuals through young adult ministry. It was during this time that Annie and Ken gained close friends and were a part of a loving and caring community. After leaving Chicago and returning to St. Louis, Annie and Ken continued their involvement in their community. Their young children all got their start attending Visitation Academy, and they rekindled many strong relationships with old friends and new.
In February of 2004, Annie was diagnosed with cervical cancer, which was a major shock to the entire family. After completing rapid and significant testing and biopsies, doctors determined that the cancer was in stage four and that chemotherapy and radiation would begin immediately. Annie’s family was overcome with emotion, fear and uncertainty, especially Annie and Ken’s three children, who were all under the age of seven at the time; but they all stayed by her side throughout the entire treatment process. Sadly, less than nine months later, on September 30, 2004, Annie’s battle with cancer came to an end.
While dealing with the death of Annie, Ken discovered Annie’s Hope which provides counsel and support services at no charge to bereaved kids and families. The programs of Annie’s Hope aim to normalize the grieving process for children and teens, provide a physically safe, nonjudgmental forum for kids to explore and come to terms with their grief, connect bereaved children to a network of peers who become life-long friends, introduce healthy ways to cope with difficult feelings, and encourage open communication among family members. Programs are designed with each child’s emotional, cognitive, physical, spiritual and social development in mind.
After connecting with Annie’s Hope, and participating in the family support groups, Joy (7) and Grace (5) asked if they could attend Camp Courage, a 4-night/5-day overnight camp that allows grieving kids to partake in games, group activities and quiet-time reflection. Camp Courage was an amazing experience for the girls, and the family support groups and ongoing support provided by Annie’s Hope had a significant positive impact on the whole family and their ability to find happiness and blessing after such a tragic event as the death of their beloved mother and wife. Since then, Ken has referred many people to Annie’s Hope and continued to support their work.
Today, Ken, his wife Tomea, now loving mother to Joy, Gracie and Mark, and the kids are very excited to establish the Annie Carter Mersmann Memorial Fund. This will be the first endowment for Annie’s Hope, and will provide an ongoing legacy of love and support in the memory of Annie Carter Mersmann. This fund will help other families who grieve the death of loved ones find their path from darkness and sadness, through healthy, kid-appropriate grieving, and aims to bring awareness to the programs and services offered by Annie’s Hope.
“Annie’s Hope played a crucial role in helping us through a really tough, sad time. Our children felt safe, loved and empowered to make it through to a better place in their future, and we want to help other families in the same way,” says Ken.