OBITUARY

Ann Delavan Harrop

April 21, 1928June 23, 2022
Obituary of Ann Delavan Harrop
Ann Delavan Harrop was born April 21, 1928, in Seneca Falls, New York, and grew up in Des Moines, graduating from Vassar College in 1950. In 1953 she married William Caldwell Harrop, who became a career Foreign Service Officer, eventually serving as ambassador to five countries. As his partner overseas, she raised four sons in difficult, sometimes dangerous environments, while moving between the U.S. and Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East. Although somewhat shy, she was a kind and welcoming hostess—a foreign service professional—confronting changes and setbacks in her life with equanimity, persistence, and humility, and with a mind of her own. Her four sons and their wives, and her six grandchildren grew up appreciating her love and unwavering support. Ann was devoted to dogs. Among the many dogs she raised and loved were Thunder, who accompanied her to elementary school and sat outside her classroom; Jeannette, a Bassett Hound who somehow could reach kitchen counters to eat butter, cake, and lasagna; Irish Setters Lady and Sheena in Australia, who ran away together on adventures but always came back; sweet Barney, who traveled to Kenya and was tormented by monkeys and birds on the terrace; Ridgebacks Shaba and Kivu, who joined her in Zaire; Sophie, who could tell when Bill was returning home in Israel before the car could be seen; Ben, who helped raise her grandchildren; and Charles, her all-time favorite dog. In the second half of her life, Ann handled a particularly insidious form of hereditary glaucoma with remarkable grace. She became unable to drive in the early 1990s, and while by the end of her life she was almost completely blind, she continued to enjoy poetry, word play, music, and games. She never complained about her blindness, not once, and hid it so artfully that most people were actually unaware that she could not see, remarkable as that sounds. She used an oversize monitor for the blind to do crossword puzzles in ink, to read her beloved Emily Dickinson, and in her last six years to write many poems of her own, some of which she published. She also took piano lessons for years, but blindness made learning new pieces a challenge. Her technique was to make out the music on her monitor, note-by-note, turn and work it out on the Yamaha keyboard beside her, then dash into the piano to play. She was no concert pianist but memorized a considerable repertoire from Bach and Beethoven to Satie, Mozart, and Schumann. She would rehearse the whole list from time to time to keep the music in her head. Her determination to arrange her world so she could move through it easily despite her blindness made everyone forget her disability. She was an inspiration to everyone who knew her. Ann and Bill moved to the retirement community Fox Hill in early 2009, where they lived at the time of her death on June 23, 2022, from metastatic pancreatic cancer. She faced her disease with her characteristic acceptance, never complaining, although distressed by the indignities of her deterioration. To the end, she was angry that the law prevented her from being granted the same peaceful death that veterinarians had given many of her dogs. Ann will be greatly missed by Bill and her sons and their wives, Mark Delavan Harrop and Lucy Mayer Harrop, Caldwell Harrop and Susan Elizabeth Spock, Scott Nelson Harrop, and George Hamilton Harrop and Lori Pope Harrop; and her six grandchildren, Jessica, Emily and her husband Jack Moxon, Will, Meg, and Max and Dan and their mother, Erica Hiller Harrop. The family will have a private memorial service. Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the Humane Rescue Alliance, www.humanerescuealliance.org, the successor organization to the Washington Humane Society, where she served on the board. Ann’s poetry revealed her particularly wry sense of humor and quick wit. She wrote these poems in anticipation of her death: THE ASHES The ashes on the mantle Are keeping an eye on you Your late wife up there is watching Everything that you do - She sees no mat on the floor No exercise for you today In fact she knows you’ve not exercised Since the day she went away - She sees you in the kitchen Heaping a dish with ice cream Instead of clearing your desk she knows You’re watching your favorite team - She sees you out in that Tesla She worries about car crashes Yet her overall hope is that soon You’ll be joining the land of ashes - It’s cozy to know she’s up there She’s with you, in an odd way But she should mind her own business And let you have the last say - MY GRAVE My grave is all ready I’m pretty sure I’ll fit There will not be much left of me When I’m just an obit - ROCK CREEK CEMETERY Today we choose our tombstone Though not ready to move in Selecting plot and marker Seems a good way to begin - A pleasant place is Rock Creek We’ll settle in quite well there A grassy slope and lovely trees Nothing of death or despair - Instead the names of old friends A Foreign Service nest Ones who once were lively Have now found peaceful rest - The stone’s design is simple Rough sides and a smooth face Our names are there and date of birth For the last date there’s a space - Hope I’ll be the first to go Bill will be all right alone I couldn’t bear his absence So dependent I have grown - I’ll have a small dog statue To keep me company I’ll need him if I’m the first To meet eternity - Let us live atop this ground As long as we are sane And when we do depart The memory will here remain - OUR GRAVESTONE We went to see our gravestone Serene in a wooded spot HARROP the giant letters Proclaim it to be our plot - Marble gleams in the sunshine The welcome mat is out It’s OK just admiring it Don’t forget what it's all about - ROCK CREEK We’re going to the cemetery But this time we won’t stay Our permanent residence there We’ll defer to a later day - We want to check on the gravestone Purchased at great expense Birth date but end date left open For we’re still in the present tense - It’s pleasant here in the park Surrounded by former friends It’s comforting to know This is where our story ends -

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