Ann Josephine Pogrel
November 23, 1945 – August 10, 2019
Ann Josephine Aylward was born in Crosby, a suburb of Liverpool in England, on the 23rd of November 1945. She was the middle of three children, and always had what she called “The middle child syndrome” Her elder sister Dorothy (always called Dot) became an anesthesiologist in Cheshire, England, whilst her younger brother Philip is a cardiologist in Adelaide, Australia. Ann attended local Catholic elementary school and Seafield Convent High School. She obtained advanced admission to Liverpool University in England at age 17 to study medicine, but after two years, decided to switch to biochemistry and obtained an honor's degree in biochemistry in 1966. At that time, she and Tony Pogrel, a dental student at Liverpool University, were dating and became engaged. While Tony was completing dental school and an internship, she taught science at Huyton College for Young Ladies. This was a boarding school and she lived in one of the boarding houses.. Ann and Tony married on the 16th of August 1969 and Tony obtained a position in oral surgery in Aberdeen in North Eastern Scotland. Together, they were in Aberdeen for six years while Tony attended medical school and Ann taught science at the High School for Girls, which subsequently became Harlaw Academy. During this time, they had two children, James William born in August 1971 and David Philip born in March 1973. In 1975, they moved to North Wales for the next stage of Tony's profession. During the four years in Wales, Ann pursued her love of the outdoors and did some part time teaching at a local technical college. She also gave birth to their third child, Helen Sian, born in January 1977 and given a typically Welsh second name. With Ann and Tony born in England, James and David born in Scotland and daughter Helen born in Wales, it created a tense situation during the five nations Rugby Union tournament, and even during the World Cup soccer tournament.
In 1979, Tony obtained a consultant appointment (equivalent of department chair) in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Peterborough in England (about 80 miles north of London) and the family moved again to what they thought at that time might be their final move. Ann obtained a teaching position at the King's School in Peterborough (the Cathedral Choir School) and became a leading light of the Housewives Register, which she had first joined in Aberdeen. This is a somewhat antiquated name for a lively progressive group of young professional mothers who carry out noble deeds and continue their education.
However, in 1983, Tony received an offer from the University of California San Francisco to join their Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and taking a leave of absence of his position in Peterborough, he went out unaccompanied for a year to assess whether this new position was appropriate. In the meantime, Ann stayed behind, raising the three children and learning how to change light bulbs. In 1984, a momentous decision was made that the whole family should move to California where Tony continued his position at the University of California San Francisco and Ann obtained a High School Science teaching position after she had obtained her California Teaching Credential. She taught at San Domenico School in San Anselmo from 1986 to 1992 and then taught science at University High School in San Francisco from 1992 to 2009. For five years, she was the chair of the Science Department. This was a teaching position that she loved dearly, and she still had many friends from her days at San Domenico, but more so at University High School. She retired in 2009 at the age of 63 by which time the children had left home to enter their careers, James as a veterinarian, David as an attorney, and Helen as a science teacher following in her mother's footsteps. In fact, Ann's mother (a pioneering campaigner for women’s rights in the 1920’s) had been a high school teacher as well, while her father was a bank manager. In 2009, Ann tragically developed encephalitis, possibly as a result of a depressed immune system from chemotherapy for breast cancer, but she did make a virtually full recovery, and continued a full and active life. She did, however, lose her driving license for six months which she found very frustrating. In retirement, she was able to travel to various parts of the world with Tony in connection with his work, and otherwise continued to educate herself through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) in Marin County, as well as classes at College of Marin. She also loved walking in the canyons of Marin County. Even breaking her hip in a fall in 2017, on her way to yoga, didn’t slow her down. She had a new metal hip by 3.30pm the same afternoon and left hospital 36 hours later, to resume her normal activities after two weeks.
She appeared to be in excellent health during the day and evening of August 9, 2019 and wanted to stay up a little later than Tony to watch some TV. Tony went to bed and when he woke up, he found her slumped on the sofa as a complete and utterly terrible surprise. She had a full and active life and had three wonderful children and five grandchildren (Calum and Owen to James and Jamie, Naia and Niran to David and Chalita, and Jude to Helen). Although she was taken from us far too early at the age of only 73, she did have a complete life and we all have so many memories of her.
Being a Biology teacher, she was one of the first to get her DNA analyzed, and was surprised to find it said she was 82% Irish, with a little Viking, and 1.5% Neanderthal, and a second test with a different company yielded similar results. She knew she had some Irish blood but 82%?? The Viking comes from the raids on the British Isles from 793 to 1284AD.
Ann was raised in the Catholic faith but rejected many of its teachings in the 1960s and formally converted to Church of England (Episcopalian) in the early 1980s. In later life, she rejected most organized religion but still respected many of the Catholic traditions. She leaves a grieving husband Tony, three children (James, David, and Helen), five grandchildren as well as a brother, Philip, in Adelaide, Australia and a brother-in-law, John, (widower of Ann's sister Dot) in England. Since she was born into a family with 39 first cousins (her mother was one of 12 and her father was one of 6), she has myriad nephews, and nieces.
She was a very special and almost unique person whose life really revolved around her family but at the same time, she was able to have a career and numerous outside activities and developed countless strong friendships on two continents.
By: Tony Pogrel August 2019
Celebration of Life
Keaton's Mortuary FD#6
1022 E St