Obituary of Mary Ann Oakley
MARY ANN OAKLEY was born Mary Ann Billenness to parents Charles Billenness and Lillian Frandsen on October 20, 1931, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She spent her youth in the city’s Shorewood neighborhood and eventually departed for Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. It was there she met Bill Oakley, recently discharged from the Marine Corps and attending the nearby University of Missouri. After a romance that included a memorable serenade from the entirety of Bill’s Sigma Nu fraternity, the two were married in August 1951.
Shortly thereafter the happy couple moved to Washington, D.C., where Bill began a career in the U.S. Government and where they were soon were blessed with children Vern (born 1952) and Valerie (born 1955). Early in the next decade, the family moved to nearby Maryland, where she later gave birth to baby Bill, Jr., and continued the hard work of raising three children throughout the 1960’s and 70’s.
As her older children went off to college, the family relocated back to Washington, spending time in South Carolina and western Maryland as well. During the next three decades, as Bill and Mary Ann enjoyed travel and retirement, their family grew to include Vern’s wife Mary Jo and their children Grace and Gibson; Valerie’s husband Tom and their children Alicia and Cody; and Bill’s wife Rachel and their children Mary, James, and Elizabeth.
Mary Ann was a beautiful woman with a heart of gold and an artistic soul who pursued creative endeavors throughout her entire life. She was proficient in many crafts and set aside time to read from the Bible every day. She was also a thoughtful and compassionate friend, and was highly-regarded as a public speaker, serving as an inspiration to many who she helped through personal struggles over the decades.
Mary Ann will be greatly missed by her loving family and by all those she touched through her words and deeds.