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A grand piano holds pride of place in Anne Jones’ comfortable, light-filled apartment. For this self-described South Carolina girl, music has been the driving force of her life.


“My degree was in music education but I entered motherhood rather early. I had three daughters and then a son. In September 1967 I started teaching school at Rock Lake Elementary and then Kaley Elementary,” Anne said. “We moved here (from Spartanburg, S.C.) in January 1955 when my husband was hired as a building official for the City of Orlando. Orlando was a sleepy town back then…not many restaurants. People did all their own cooking at home.”


She worked primarily with children who were hearing-impaired. There were quite a number of them due to a Rubella epidemic several years before, she said. About three times per week, hearing children from the neighborhood would join the class.   


“I taught for 20 years. I’ve been retired longer than I taught,” she mused. “I had a full-time aide during that time and she, coincidentally, lives here also. I did several years of bible study, and then volunteering, and then traveling. My first interesting tour was to take two 17-year-old boys – one of them my son – to Europe for three weeks in 1976. Oh my…it was quite a learning experience!”


Her first priority was always her own four children and her husband. Then, at age 70, she was suddenly a widow.


“I felt that was awfully young to be a widow. I felt that Ralph had just retired and we were going to have fun together, travel together, but that was not to be. He was a smoker and the cause of his death was lung cancer,” she said.


But, she has been able to indulge her love of travel and has visited Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bali, among other places. In Costa Rica she went on a zip line. In Japan she rode the bullet train. She has kayaked, gone whitewater rafting, and hiked, and now dreams of going to Panama and seeing the Panama Canal. Those other trips were once only dreams so there is little doubt she will make it to Panama as well.


“I had a desire to walk the Great Wall of China so, in 1992, we went to China. When we were there, I saw this Chinese family, a mother and father and children and a grandmother. The grandmother looked at me and I looked at her and we locked arms and walked up those steps together,” she remembered. “It was such a poignant moment walking the wall with her, because I realized language is not a barrier…it was that we realized we had something in common…to walk that wall.”


Some of her travels have been done with groups from her university and she says she is working on visiting all 50 states.


But, music suffuses her life. The piano dominates her living room and classical music wafts through the space from a radio in her bedroom. She also journals and meditates on a daily basis and describes herself as a “sneak reader” because she is always trying to squeeze in a few minutes to read whatever book has caught her imagination right then.


“We have a book club and the book we just read is by a local writer, Greg Dawson. I also sing with the First United Methodist Choir at Christmas. Music is a part of my life and my children are my life…they are my friends.”