Ann Garretson Benedict, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, died in Pleasanton, California on November 10, 2022, the day after her 92nd birthday. Ms. Benedict was a fashion designer, model, and program coordinator. With her husband, A. Frank Benedict, who died in 2013, she was an active member of the Cincinnati, Ohio, and national deaf communities.
Ann Garretson was born on November 9, 1930 in Cincinnati to Louise Parrish Garretson and Joseph Garretson Jr. Her father was a journalist who worked for the Cincinnati Times-Star and the Cincinnati Enquirer as a columnist and editorial writer. He was also a radio news commentator.
Deaf from birth, Ann attended Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, Missouri through eighth grade. She returned to Cincinnati to attend Miss Doherty’s College Preparatory School for Girls on Johnstone Street.
Following her high school graduation, Ann earned a degree in fashion design from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. This was at a time when few deaf people, and even fewer deaf women, went on to college. A lifelong believer in the value of education, Ann made sure that her two deaf children, Holly and Dwight, had the best possible educational options. She established Indiana residency and enrolled them at Indiana School for the Deaf in Indianapolis, where they excelled academically and were involved in student organizations and athletics. Both went on to college and graduate school, and are retired from successful careers in higher and PK-12 education.
Ann began her career at Fashion Frocks, Inc., a clothing manufacturer based in Cincinnati. This company, founded by Philip M. Meyers, employed mostly women, and sold their garments door-to-door utilizing style cards or salesperson samples. Fashion Frocks apparel was also sold at women’s social gatherings, precursors to the ubiquitous Tupperware parties of the late 20th century. Ann modeled many of the clothes she designed, both in shows and in video footage on NBC’s Camel News Caravan, hosted by the legendary television host, game show panelist, and pitchman John Cameron Swayse.
Later in life, Ann became a program coordinator at the University of Cincinnati Rehabilitation Center, a role she held for 11 years.
Both during her career and in retirement, Ann believed in giving back to the community. Along with her husband, she was involved at the local, state, and national level in many civic and social endeavors.
In the 1960s, AT&T and Western Union donated surplus teletypewriter machines to the deaf community to be used for print communication over telephone lines. Ann organized a club to refurbish, distribute, these machines and provide training to deaf consumers on their use.
Ann also served as a member of the advisory board to Community Services for the Deaf, and as a member and officer of the Cincinnati Deaf Club. She coordinated numerous fundraisers for deaf youth to attend the National Association of the Deaf Youth Leadership Camp and for deaf athletes to participate in what is now known as the Deaflympics.
Most notably, Ann chaired the 1965 American Athletic Association of the Deaf men’s basketball tournament in Cincinnati, and as registration chair for the National Association of the Deaf biennial conference in 1980, also in Cincinnati, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of NAD’s founding. The very first NAD conference, at which the organization came into existence, was held in 1880 in Cincinnati.
Ann was recognized by Quota International, Sixth District, as its Deaf Woman of the Year. She also received a meritorious service award from the Ohio Association of the Deaf and was inducted as an honorary member into the National Organization of Phi Kappa Zeta Sorority.
Ann’s interests included gardening, yard work, quilting, knitting, sports, boating, road trips, traveling, and entertaining. She was a diehard Cincinnati Reds fan, and attended many games with her father, husband, and children. She also loved the ocean, and visited her children on both coasts.
Ann spent the last five and one-half years of her life in Pleasanton, California, in the home of her daughter and son-in-law. She maintained close ties to friends in Cincinnati and throughout the United States, and continued her community involvement and interest in quilting. She participated in events for deaf senior citizens. She was especially delighted to meet her great-granddaughter at ten days old, and to learn that her other granddaughter was pregnant with another great-granddaughter.
Ann’s children, Holly and Dwight Benedict, said that their mother lived life to the fullest, with a ready smile. “She was thoughtful, kind, giving, generous, appreciative, gracious, and polite. She inculcated in us the importance of good manners and civility. She was also devoted to her husband – our father – and loyal to her friends.”
Ann Garretson Benedict was predeceased by her parents and her husband of 58 years. She is survived by her daughter, Holly Benedict and son-in-law G. Wayne Miller, of Pleasanton, California; her son, A. Dwight Benedict, and daughter-in-law Dr. Beth Sonnenstrahl Benedict, of Ocean View, Delaware; two granddaughters, Rachel Benedict Berrigan (Kevin) and Lauren Benedict Mowl (Jon); and a great-granddaughter, Mila Isla Benedict Mowl.
A celebration of Ann’s life will be held on September 19, 2023 at the Greater Cincinnati Deaf Club, 3938 Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati. Donations in her memory may be made to the Youth Leadership Camp Alumni Foundation, which supports the operations of the National Association of the Deaf Youth Leadership Camp program and provides financial support for underrepresented and underprivileged deaf youth campers. Ann’s children and grandchildren attended this camp, and her son Dwight is a member of the Foundation board.