She leaves her daughter Lisa (Madeleine), son David (Shoshana), grandson Ben, nieces Debbie and Cindy, sister Kathy, nephew Bob, dear friends Tom Gauthier, Erica Holman, and Ken Salzman, and a wide circle of beloved and devoted friends, family, and informally adopted children and grandchildren. Her husband of 57 years, Walter, died in 2015.
Ann was born Emily Ann Beckel in Detroit, Michigan, on October 11, 1932, to Betty and Earl Beckel. She grew up in Northville and attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, which she chose for its racially integrated student body, a rarity at that time. After college, she moved to Ann Arbor, where she met Walter Kron, a graduate student in Near Eastern Studies who had come to the US from Germany 1937 as a German-Jewish refugee. Their 57-year marriage was one of mutual adoration and respect, both of them feeling they had married the finest person they had ever known.
In 1964, Ann and Walter moved to Lansing. As Ann observed, in the early 60s, there were only three kinds of neighborhood: “Black, White, and ‘changing.’” But Ann was determined to raise her family in a stable, racially integrated neighborhood. She gathered a handful of similarly concerned neighbors to found the West Side Neighborhood Association in her living room at 418 West Street, in order to mobilize the West Side community against “blockbusting” and disinvestment. An intuitively gifted community organizer, Ann believed that fear of difference could be overcome by inviting neighbors to interact with each other in simple, friendly ways—picnics, parades, cook-outs. At its peak, the WSNA had over 500 member families, drawn to the organization by these warm, neighborly activities, and ready at a moment’s notice to fight to preserve the integrity of their welcoming neighborhood, making the organization a source of potent political power. During the seven years of Ann’s presidency, the WSNA mobilized to save St. Lawrence Hospital, shape successful city-wide school integration, and circulate an anti-blockbusting pledge for realtors, among many other civic and community accomplishments. Ann’s actions and the work of the West Side Neighborhood Association had a lasting impact; in August 2015, the Lansing State Journal reported that the city of Lansing remains the second most integrated community in the state of Michigan.
Ann’s devotion to social justice was second only to her devotion to her family. With her mother, Betty, she ran Betty and Ann’s Consignment in Lansing for many years. She was like a second mother to a small army of people including her nieces and the “adopted kids” she and Walter collected over the years, from former exchange students to family friends to longtime helpers, whose lives she followed ardently, whether they were close by or continents away.
Throughout her life, Ann Kron radiated integrity, curiosity, and honesty. She was famous for her dry sense of humor, her utter lack of pretentiousness, and her ability to accept all human beings as they were. She was a person of depth without darkness and complexity without mystery. Her love was both fathomless and lucid. The anchor of her family, she will be profoundly missed.
The funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, April 5, 2017, at the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel. Interment will follow in Evergreen Cemetery, Lansing. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Meals on Wheels (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Action of Greater Lansing (actionofgreaterlansing.org).