|ANNE LIGDA||Born: 1941-02-02||Died: 2009-01-02|
|Father: Unspecified||Mother: Unspecified|
|Children: BRANDY STE.ANN LIGDA|
Anne was the second of three daughters born to Alexander R. Marbury (11/25/1888 – 01/11/1965) and Edna Hester (02/24/13 – 04/22/2003). Frances, her older sister, was handicapped from birth. Her father was then working in the lumber yard at Ft. Ord. The Marburys left California for Oklahoma shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 – largely from fear of a Japanese invasion and rumors that they would kill all handicapped children. Their plans were to return to California as soon as it was safe, but while in Oklahoma, a cousin wrecked the family car leaving the family without transportation. The family drifted to Arkansas where Anne’s father took a job at Camp Chaffe in Branch, Arkansas and her mother obtained a job teaching at Branch High School. The Marburys remained in Arkansas for the duration. Their youngest daughter, Alexis, was born in Fayetteville in 1943. The family were members of the Church of Christ and all the girls were raised in that faith.
When the War ended in 1945, Anne’s father was working as a salesman for Harry Barr Insulation Company in Ft. Smith. In 1946, he was transferred to a branch office in Enid, Oklahoma. The family moved but, with the influx of returning veterans, could find no housing. For several months the family actually lived in a part of the company’s office building. In 1947, the family returned to Arkansas. Her mother entered the Arkansas State Teacher’s College in Conway. Anne first attended school at the college’s Demonstration School
Anne’s mother graduated from College in 1948 and took a job teaching 1st and 2nd Grades at the Bruno Consolidated School. Anne was one of her students. Her mother recalled Anne’s experience with, “the worst teacher I ever had.” In 1949, the Marburys decided to return to California, but their car broke down in Oklahoma City and the money they had for the remainder of the trip had to be spent on repairs. Her father took a job with a local insulation company. Within a year, he bought the business. The family was to remain in Oklahoma City for ten years.
In 1951, while Anne was attending Hawthorne Elementary School, the Oklahoma City Symphony performed a Youth Concert at her school. Anne was enthralled. She came home from school and announced to her mother that she wanted to play the cello. Her mother replied, “Well, if you’ll tell me what a cello is, I’ll get one for you.” Her mother found a music store with cellos for rent to be an excellent motivator. Anne was her best student. Music was to remain a prominent part of her life.
After she graduated from Hawthorne Elementary School in 1953, Anne was stricken with polio. She was hospitalized for many months before being released with braces and crutches and braces the doctors said she would need for the rest of her life. She was admitted to William Jennings Bryan School for the Handicapped where Frances was educated. Anne did not like the school. In 1954, she insisted on attending Harding Junior High School, the regular school which was in a three story building without elevators. It took extrordinary determination to get from floor to floor for her classes. That summer, she underwent operations to lengthen her Achelles tendons and learned to walk without crutches. She continued in the regular school system, graduating from Classen Junior High in 1956, the year the Marburys bought their first home at 3100 NW 44th Street which was Anne’s home for her high school years.
Anne attended NW Classen High School. Despite obligations she had at home in caring for Frances, she was an outstanding student and continued her growth in mastering the cello. She was selected as the school’s best female musician. However, she did not recall her high school years as particularly happy. She felt her parents did not appreciate her academic/musical achievements and that her father, in particular, was openly critical and suspicious of her relationships with boys. She did not feel accepted by the popular kids at school. She felt this was partially due to her aged father’s appearance and behavior during the rare occasions she invited her friends to her home. She also felt their home was messy and that condition embarrassed her.
Anne graduated with scholastic honors in 1959 and won a Canfield Foundation Scholarship that would pay 7/8 of her tuition at any univeristy in the world. Her mother, who earned her master’s Degree from Central University of Oklahoma that same year and was then the family breadwinner, did not feel she could support the family on the salaries then offered by Oklahoma school districts. In August of 1959, the family returned to California where she took a teaching position at Oak elementary School in Covina.
Anne selected Pepperdine University in Los Angeles where she enrolled in the fall of 1959. She selected a double major: music theory and cello performance. She studied cello under Gabor Reito at the University of Southern California. She was principal cellist in the University Symphony all four of her college years. She was a member of the Mu Phi Epsilon National Music Association that required all A’s in her music courses, serving as President in her Senior year. She made time to sing in the University’s choruses and was active in drama, playing the part of Nettie Fowler in the drama depatment’s production of Carousel and the part of Aunt Abby in Arsenic and Old Lace. During her junior year sshe was a member of the Roger Wagner Chorale. In her senior year, she was listed in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities and was awarded the outstanding stringed instrument award. While in college she met Gary Cooney who was then in the Navy. They were dating when Anne graduated cum laude in 1963. They continued their romance in the year following her graduation while Anne was back in Oklahoma under contract to the Oklahoma City Symphony. When her contract ended, Anne returned to California where, on May 14, 1964, she and Gary were married.
The Cooney’s made their first home at 78 Gardner Street in Vallejo near Gary’s work on Mare Island. In September 1964, Anne took work as a Social Services Worker in the Solano County Welfare Department. She continued in that work until May 1965 when Gary was assigned sea duty on the East Coast. The Cooneys went through several moves and had their first child, David, born January 28, 1966 in Bath, Maine while Gary’s assignments kept him back East.
In 1967, Gary was reassigned to Mare Island. The family returned to Vallejo where they purchased their first home at 949 Benicia Road in Vallejo. Anne returned to work with the Welfare Department as a Child Protective Services Worker. On October 20, 1969, she had Elizabeth, her second child, at Kaiser Hospital in Vallejo. In 1971, the Cooneys sold their home and with the proceeds and some savings made a $3,300 down payment on a new home at 100 Dartmouth in the Southampton Development in Benicia then selling for $27,500. In 1972, Anne and Gary divorced. She was awarded the house in Benicia as part of the property agreement. She continued living there with David and Elilzabeth, then 6 and 2.
In May 1974, Anne was promoted to the job of finding placements for dependent childlren who had been removed from their home by court order. (She would be promoted to supervisor of the unit two years later). Her new responsibilites took her into group and foster homes all over Northern California and required frequent appearances in Juvenile Court where she met and began dating Paul Ligda, then Public Defender of Solano County.
In 1976, Anne acquired an interest in a second house at 622 Indiana Street in Vallejo. The owner, a co-worker at Welfare, had given the home to her son who promised to make the monthly mortgage payments. He developed a drug habit, stopped making the payments and let other drug users into the house who trashed the property before abandoning it leaving several dogs locked inside. Anne’s co-worker wanted no part of the clean-up or the back payments and was happy Anne was willing to buy her interest for a dollar. On recording the sale, Anne and Paul made up the back payments and spent most of their weekends and evenings over the next several weeks returning the property to rentable condition. Anne would later rent her home in Benicia when she and Paul moved to 1129 Valle Vista in Vallejo. She was a landlady.
Anne and Paul married on August 14, 1977 in a ceremony held on the patio of their new home presided over by Judge Ellis Randall. They had a short honeymoon in Marin County with a trip to the Philippines planned a few months later when work allowed. On takeoff for the final leg of the trip, the 747 developed engine trouble. The pilot aborted the takeoff by braking the plane and bringing it to a stop near the end of the runway with tires burning from the friction of the rubber against the tarmac. The panicked and inexperienced cabin crew hightened the anxiety of all on board with cries of “Emergency, emergency; everyone off the plane” In her haste to get out before the plane caught fire, Anne hurt herself using the inflatable slide to the ground. It turned out that the injuries were minor as was the damage to the plane but the parts needed for repair had to be flown in. During the three day wait, Anne and Paul were guests of Philippine Airlines at a hotel near the airport.
A second adventure occurred during a cruise from Manila to Zamboanga when the ship encountered a severe storm and was buffeted about on the Philippine Sea. Anne was seasick to the point she believed she might die and spent much of the cruise in bed. Memories of that experience kept her off cruise ships for years.
In 1979, Anne resigned her position with the Welfare Department to take a job as Director of the Drake House Group Home in Concord, California. To help the sustain the program, she withdrew her money from the State retirement system and bought a house she leased to the Program for enough money to make the mortgage payments. She kept that lease after she left the program in 1980, eventually selling the property at a modest profit.
Anne left Drake House to accept the opportunity of becoming Executive Director of the Napa-Solano Girl Scout Council. She felt it would be refreshing to work with girls who were achievers after so many years of exposure to neglected children, abused children, and children growing up in poverty.
In her new position, Anne raised the half million dollars needed for the development and building of the Council’s new Program Center in Cordelia that was completed and dedicated in 1985.
The next few years proved difficult for Anne. Neither of her children did well in school. Neither seemed to care. None of her attempts to change their attitudes worked and eventually both dropped out of the regular school program and failed to graduate with their class. Elizabeth dated blacks which, although becoming more common, created social problems that were aggravated by the lack of character of the partners she choose. Anne was devastated on learning her 15 year-old daughter was pregnant and that the father was black. Despite her religious convictions to the contrary, she urged abortion. Elizabeth refused. Meanwhile David slipped into the use of drugs and resorted to stealing to support the habit he developed. Anne was his primary victim. She could not comprehend how her own son could steal from her. David was eventually arrested and imprisoned. Anne maintained a log from December of 1984 into 1988 in which she recorded, among other things, her embarassment when conversations with friends involved discussing her children as well as her attempts to conceal her daughter’s pregnancy from her friends and neighbors. In a sense she felt her children’s behavior was punishment for her choices in divorcing Gary and in pursuing a career that kept her away from her home so often when her children were younger and home alone. She felt she had failed as a parent and questioned her effectiveness as a role model in the job she held.
There were problems at work. Staff turnover required Anne to spend much of her time recruiting and training new personnel and delay work on program development and working with the volunteers. There were complaints. The President and some members of the Board blamed Anne who struggled to meet everyone’s expectations, but just couldn’t do it. She was asked to resign in 1987 and did so after working out a severance package that included a modest cash payment and a letter of recommendation. She wrote of doubts she would ever find work again and of concerns that, for the first time in her adult life, at age 46, she was no longer self supporting. She was uncomfortable being financially dependent but, with her husband’s consent, she took over all family financial matters including management of the two rental properties and, over the next 15 years, helped build a community estate valued in excess of three million dollars.
Anne’s bouts with depression from the turmoil in her life intensified with the death of her mother-in-law, Caroline, on May 24, 1988 and of her sister, Frances Rainbow (b 01/23/39), on June 19, 1989. Her mother-in-law spent her final days battling cancer in her daughter’s home in Menlo Park. Anne, despite knowing her mother-in-law never fully accepted her into the family, spent several days helping Susan provide the care needed. When her sister died, her husband did not take time off work to attend the funeral in Northridge. Despite the comfort she felt spending some time in the company of her Mother and Alexis after the burial, she resented what she felt was her husband’s lack of understanding of the loss Frances’ death meant to her.
As she developed confidence in the family’s financial security, Anne’s concern over the need to get a job faded although in 1990 she accepted a part time position as Fund Development Director for the local chapter of the American Cancer Society. She stayed in that position until 1992 when she and Paul were living in Modesto and the commute took too long. Thereafter, she considered herself retired although she did teach cello in to a few private students during the two years the Ligdas lived in Modesto and, in 1993, accepted a temporary position as Executive Director of the Vallejo Symphony.
Anne considered herself a compulsive overeater and battled a problem with her weight most of her life. She described her high school figure as “pudgy,” and felt her appearance made her unattractive. After the birth of her children, she trimmed down to what she considered an ideal weight and maintained it in the years she was a single parent and well into her second marriage. By 1983, she felt the need of help to curb her overeating. She joined O.A. and remained it that program for many years eventually being elected as a member of the Board of Trustees. Board meetings took her on frequent business trips, many of which she turned into family outings. Among the places Anne took her family were Los Angeles, San Diego, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Albuqueque, Houston, and Italy/France.
Anne was always active in her community. She joined Soroptomists International of Vallejo in 1981 and served in many capacities including Club President in 1989-90. She served on the Board of the Alan Meadows Pool Association and as President in 1981. She served on the Board of Directors of the Vallejo Sister City Association. She joined the Vallejo Symphony as a cellist in 1974 and contined, with occasional interruption, until her death. She also played for the Napa Symphony for over ten years. In both symphonies she served for periods as principal cellist. She also was elected to the Board of Directors of the Vallejo Symphony Association and remained active until her death, serving in many capacities including President in 1997/9. During her term as Executive Director, she coordinated the plans and raised the funds needed to take the orchestra to Japan as part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the sister city relationship between the cities of Akashi and Vallejo.
Despite her dispair at what she felt were her daughter’s destructive life choices, Anne took an active interest in the lives of her two grandchildren: Raymond Cooney, born May 8, 1986, and Duke Cooney, born January 14, 1993. Neither father assumed an active role in supporting his son. Raymond had a troubled relationship with his mother that led him to seek refuge with his Grandmother from time to time. Anne had the ticklish task of providing structure for Raymond without further alienating her daughter. Raymond eventually moved in with the Ligdas where he remained several years. Anne was also instumental in providing a home for Brandy, her third grandchild, born September 8, 1993. She was concerned with the lack of commitment to the child by either parent and, on January 2, 1994, took Brandy from her daughter’s home and brought her home. She went on to become Brandy’s legal guardian that eventually led to her adoption that was finalized in 1996.
The addition of Brandy to her family gave Anne a new purpose. She was determined not to repeat what she felt were her mistakes in raising David and Elizabeth, among them devoting too much attention to work. She was determined that Brandy would have every opportunity to succeed. She resumed regular church attendance at the Lassen Street Church of Christ so Brandy would have a church family. She volunteered for leadership roles in the parents organizations at the schools Brandy attended. She embraced the friendships with the parents of Brandy’s school friends. She made her home available as a comfortable and safe gathering place where Brandy could bring her friends. She was there to help with difficult homework assignments. Brandy thrived and, more importantly, the warmth of the relationship between Anne and Brandy drew the entire family back to Anne. Over the last 15 years of her life, Anne became very close to David, Elizabeth, Raymond, Duke, Jay, and John. She was able to put their past transgressions into perspective and take pride in what each was accomplishing. She came to a point of comfort in discussing her children with friends.
Anne loved travel. After her return from her initial trip abroad in 1974, she was constantly planning her next trip. Eventually she was to visit over 100 TCC countries and most of the United States. In 1991, during a trip around the world, she fulfilled a girlhood dream stopping in Inda to see the Taj Mahal. Anne often included other family members in family trips. She flew her mother and daughter to the Costa del Sol for the Christmas holidays in 1991. Her mother came along on separate trips to Arizona, Virginia, and Maryland in 1996. In 1997, Anne had her mother join the family in England for a two week visit to London and Wales. Jay joined the family on a trip to Guatamala and Costa Rica in 1987. John joined the family on trips to Mexico in 1985 and to France in 2005. Raymond was with the family for foreign trips to Europe and Asia over several years. Duke was with the family for foreign trips to Europe and South America between 2000 and 2006.
In 1995, despite her memories of the seasickness she suffered during her honymoon cruise on the Philippine Sea 18 years earlier, Anne agreed to try a seven day Caribbean cruise out of Montego Bay, Jamaica. She boarded the ship armed with an amply supply of seasickness pills and wristbands (just in case) and was delighted to find they weren’t needed. She loved the experience – no daily packing and unpacking; luxury transportation between ports; excellent food; great company; and a chance to dress up on formal nights. She made cruising a major part of family vacationing – 16 cruises over the next 13 years.
In 2002, during a routine physical check-up, doctors detected a spot on Anne’s lung. She was advised to have it checked on a regular basis which she did. The spot neither moved nor grew, so she accepted her doctor’s guess that it was not likely cancer. In the ensuing years, she developed more health problems, twice being hospitalized with pnemonia. She lacked the energy she once had. On some of her later trips, she restricted her day trips to those that didn’t require a lot of walking or where the site provided a wheel chair if needed. In 2007 during a trip to Australia, she became dizzy, fell, and needed a wheelchair for the remainder of the visit. Later that year, she turned down the invitation to attend Paul and Gaya Lindstedt’s wedding in Moldova. It took all her energy to visit Akashi in August 2008 for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the sister city relationship with Vallejo. Over the Thanksgiving week at the Ridge Tahoe, she had exceptional trouble breathing. She thought it was probably because of the altitute, but X-rays after the trip revealed considerable fluid in the sac surrounding her lungs and that the spot on her lung had grown. Her doctor drained the fluid and sent it to the lab where analysis revealed lung cancer already in it’s 4th stage. On December 12, her doctor advised that the only possible treatment was chemotherapy which, if successful, might extend her life a year.
Anne took her only chemotherapy a week later. She was encouraged knowing she was doing something to fight the disease. She went about her daily routine and insisted there be no change in her plans to have the family come for Christmas. As the holiday neared, she spent more and more of her days resting in bed. She was up for Christmas and enjoyed opening presents with the sixteen family members/friends gathered for all or part of the day. Alexis, Liz, Rhonda, Shannon, and Brandy all chipped in to help prepare the Christmas meal (and clean up afterwards).
On Saturday, the 27th, Anne had an appointment in Napa to select the wig she would need when, as a result of the chemotherapy, she lost her hair. She was determined to get a wig that would look good. Second best was out of the question. That morning, she felt energetic. She made breakfast, helped change the linens on the bed, and started a load of laundry. She had no difficulty getting into the car for the drive to Napa, but, during the half hour trip, she wearied to the point she had difficulty getting out of the car and walking up the pathway and into the shop. She limited her involvement in the selection process to the elimination of a few styles she did not like at all and let the shopkeeper decide the rest. When she returned home she went to bed and rested the remainder of the day. During the night, she experienced pains in her stomach and diarrea. By midnight the pain intensified to the point she was moaning. We could not deal with her condition at home. I took her to the emergency room at Kaiser. Staff stabilized her and moved her to ICU where, over the next five days, despite the valiant efforts of the doctors and staff, her condition continued to deteriorate as her life systems broke down. She died in apparent peace on January 2nd surrounded by grieving family.
On January 7th there was a memorial service at the Lassen Street Church of Christ attended by over 300. On January 31st, the Vallejo Symphony dedicated their second concert of the season to her memory. Anne was cremated. Her remains are interred at Skyview Memorial Lawn in Vallejo where she lived most of her life.