Ann Cansler

Obituary of Ann Elizabeth Cansler

Ann L. Cansler died peacefully in her sleep on Monday morning, August 14th , 2023, in her Niceville home, at the age of 98.

Born in Washington, D.C., on December 9th , 1924, Ann was the only child of Walter and Ruth Luetzenkirchen, a commercial artist for the Washington Star newspaper, and a secretary, respectively. She attended the prestigious Holton-Arms school, went on to college at William & Mary in Virginia, and graduated from the University of Maryland in 1946 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

For a period of time during the war years, she helped in the war effort, working for a small company that later became the giant Lockheed-Martin corporation.

Early on, among her large circle of friends, Ann had caught the eye of a young man who was of little interest to her. He pursued her for many years, running in the same social circles, being there when needed, staying on her radar, until one day, in a moment of clarity and wisdom, she accepted his one-hundredth proposal. Norman Louis Cansler, the only child of Col. Louis Cansler and Maude Cansler, and a recent graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, married Ann Elizabeth Luetzenkirchen, the love of his life, at the National Cathedral in Washington, on January 11, 1947, and with that, their adventures began.

Norman’s first foreign assignment came soon after their wedding, and they found themselves on the proverbial “slow boat to China”, a freighter that wandered across the Pacific and eventually left them in Cebu in post-war Philippines. Living in primitive housing with bicycle-generated electricity and no drinkable running water, they learned to live with minimal amenities, and, of course, formed strong friendships that they cherished the rest of their lives.

Ann’s life in Cebu ended a few months earlier than Norman’s when she became pregnant with their first child. Wanting to give birth in the U.S., she again found herself on a slow boat from China, this time bravely travelling on her own. Claudia was born in April, 1950, in Washington, D.C., Norman returned from the Philippines in June, and soon they were off to their second assignment to the consulate in the Mexican border town of Reynosa.

They lived in McAllen, Texas, and Norman commuted across the border everyday to work. In July of 1951, son, Stephen, was born, and in November of 1952, son, Michael, joined the family.

A little more than a year later, it was time to move again. This time the whole family boarded a ship to cross the Atlantic, and eventually arrived in their new home in Thessaloniki, Greece. Three years with three small children in scenic and historic Greece left the family with many wonderful memories of adventures with new friends in beautiful places.

From Greece, it was on to Port Elizabeth in the Union of South Africa. This was during the time of apartheid which was jarring, but the country was beautiful and fascinating, seeing monkeys playing on the beach, going to elephant parks, or ostrich farms, and driving past hippos, crocodiles, giraffes, big cats, and hundreds of exotic animals that are usually seen in zoos. And, as in every other post, more lifelong friends were added to the address book and the photo albums.

The next destination was a stint in the U.S., so the family flew across Africa, which took three days, then boarded another ship across the Atlantic, and arrived back in Washington. Ann and Norman found a house to buy – their first – and the children settled into schools in Bethesda, Maryland, and tried to become comfortable with the strange way of life in the United States.  It was the first time they had lived near their grandparents, and all four grandparents were thrilled to have their family living within a half hour drive.

During this time, Kenneth, the final addition to the family, was born in Washington, D.C. on the 4th of July, 1961, much to the delight of the grandparents who had never been able to enjoy their grandchildren as babies. Ann spent a lot of time working on renovating the house, contributed to the family income by substitute teaching, and, frankly, found life in America a little tedious and boring. So, she was ready to go when the orders came in, stating that the family was headed to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

A train ride to New Orleans and a three-week cruise on a freighter/ passenger ship got the family to Buenos Aires in April of 1964. With the three oldest children in their teens, this assignment was the place where they grew up, where they went to high school, where they made their own friends, so when the family was transferred more than four years later, in
1968, it was more emotionally difficult to leave.

The family moved back to their home in Bethesda, but were there only one year before being sent to Tokyo, Japan, a huge, vibrant and fascinating city. For the first and only time in their career, they lived in an apartment in an Embassy compound, and the boys were transported to schools on a nearby American military base.

After Tokyo, they again spent a few years in Bethesda before taking their last assignment at the consulate in Bermuda. By that time, the three oldest children were not included in the family moves, but Bermuda was close enough and enticing enough for them to visit as often as possible.

Norman retired from his diplomatic service in 1978. For the next year, he and Ann visited the friends they had accumulated around the world over the years, going all across the U.S., in a quest for the perfect place to retire.

After decades of supporting Norman in his career, of entertaining diplomats and dignitaries in her home, of settling her family in new countries every few years, Ann agreed that golfing and welcoming visitors to her new home and her new life in Niceville, Florida, was the best choice.

Ann’s friends knew her as someone appreciative of exotic foods, someone who didn’t suffer fools, was well-read, sharp, artistic and adventurous. She was always up for a party, especially if cocktails were involved. When she was at a party, she would have a cocktail “to make people more interesting”. If she was not at a party, she would have a cocktail “to practice for a party”.

In their retirement years, Ann and Norman were able to continue the activities that they had always enjoyed, i.e., playing bridge, golfing, spending time with friends old and new, and, most of all, traveling. They completed a cruise around the world, and explored a multitude of places that they had not yet seen. Ann also continued enjoying her own personal interests in reading, painting, sewing and knitting, and learning a new skill in stained glass art. They were privileged to spend forty years in retirement until Norman passed away a few weeks before their 72nd anniversary, in December of 2018.

Sadly, Ann also endured the loss of their youngest son, Kenneth, in 2016, their oldest son, Stephen, in December of 2018, and a much-loved son-in-law, Michael Zaunbrecher, in June of 2018.

She is survived by her daughter, Claudia Zaunbrecher of Alvarado, Texas; her son, Michael Cansler of Niceville, Ann’s devoted caregiver for the past seven years; daughters-in-law, Sherry Dean Cansler and Tracy Wenner; five grandchildren, Whitnee, Michael, and Craig Zaunbrecher (Christine), Killian Cansler Tribby (Tony) and Cameron Cansler; two great-grandchildren, Alora Power and Keller Power (Abby); and a great-great grandson, Felic Ochoa-Power.

The family will have a private memorial in the near future.


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