Free of the shackles that most recently held her back, Ann is now onward and upward crossing into a new frontier. Perhaps another watery world awaits her where she can once again be free to swim to the depths of her imagination, all the while seizing opportunities to make life better for those around her. For those of us left behind, we will join you soon enough. But we will not be in a hurry, making the most of this life, much as you did during your 100 years. No tears will pass, only smiles, deep inner reflection, and marvel at the humanity that you brought to the fore.
Leader and Role Model: Vision, Initiative, & Creativity
Ann was born in Powell River, B.C. Ann had a vision when she was a small girl, to swim as far as she could see! Such a vision became a life-changing moment. For her, it was about being the best that she could be, to push limits, in some cases ones that no human has ever duplicated (speed/endurance records in long-distance swimming).
In 2008, Ann was inducted into the “Order of British Columbia”. Former Premier Gordon Campbell et al. recognized her: “Ann (Mundigel) Meraw became Canada’s sfirst female registered life guard (1943) and the only woman coach ever in the World Professional Federation of Swimming. She earned her living as a lifeguard, swimming coach, instructor and examiner [Vancouver Parks Board (45 years)]. Over the years, she saved 63 people from drowning. She obtained seven world records in long-distance swimming, four of which still stand today (she was never beaten in competition). Member of the Royal Lifesaving Society (78 years). Founding member of the Ridge Meadows Hall of Fame (RMHF) in Maple Ridge, president of her strata council, Block Watch captain and a community policing volunteer, among many other community activities. An elite athlete, a coach, a tireless community activist, Ann has a storied past and an involved present in Maple Ridge.”
Broke New Ground
In 1934, Ann and three other women started what was to become known as synchronized swimming, all with the aim of creating entertainment. In 1939, she did a life-saving performance for King George V1 and the Queen Mother. In 1958, upon completion of her world-breaking, non-stop 55 mile swim (32 hours and 12 minutes), Ann was invited to meet Princess Margaret who flew to BC to meet her.
In 1945, Ann founded the Canadian “water babies” swimming program.
Inductee BC Sports Hall of Fame (1985), Sport: Swimming, Category: Builder. Commemorative Medal 125th Anniversary of Canada (1992) in “Recognition of significant contribution to compatriots, community and to Canada.” (Visit her display: BC Place, Gate A of BC Place, Vancouver, BC V6B 4Y8). YMCA Metro Vancouver Women of Distinction Award (Category: Health, Wellness, & Active Living) (2012). Wrote a memoir entitled “Marathon Swimmer” (Maple Ridge: Waite Publishing, 2004).
Ann also made a splash on the small screen, when she became a technical advisor on the CBC TV series, “The Beachcombers.” She served as the double for actress Juliet Randall in the show’s swim scenes.
From 1940-1982, Ann co-trained field trial dogs with her husband (Joseph Thomas Meraw), who was renowned for training championship dogs.
Pre-deceased Family Members: President Ulysses S. Grant (great uncle, mother’s side), Joe (husband), William (father), Phobie (mother), John Grant (Jack) (brother), Norma Marie (Pat) (sister), Delores, Thelma, Marcia, Kay and Jean Earl (cousins), William (Bill) (grandson).
Surviving: Kathy & Kathy (nieces), Larry & Don (nephews), Christine and Mike (grandchildren). Mike writes, “Grandma you were my dancing and drinking buddy! We have some unfinished partying to do with John Bao in Vegas (look for us at one of your previous haunts: The CatHouse, Luxor Hotel next month). Birgit sends you a BIG HUG also. We love you! Vegas won’t be the same without you.”
Prayers, Funeral Service, Burial
To be held at 10:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. respectively, 24 March at St. Luke’s Church, 20285 Dewdney Trunk Rd, Maple Ridge. Ann will be buried in Maple Ridge Cemetery, next to her husband Joe, later that day at approx. 2:00 p.m.
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