A virtual memorial service for Annie Glenn will be held on June 6 due to coronavirus restrictions

By Gabrielle Chung
May 19, 2020 10:24 PM
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Annie and John Glenn
Annie and John Glenn
| Credit: Jacques M. Chenet/Getty Images

Annie Glenn, the widow of astronaut and Senator John Glenn who became an advocate for those with speech disorders after overcoming her own stutter, has passed away at the age of 100.

Annie died from complications related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University confirmed to PEOPLE.

A virtual memorial service for Annie will be held on June 6 at 11 .a.m. EDT due to coronavirus restrictions, according to the university.

Annie entered into the spotlight in 1962 when her husband became the first American to orbit the earth. Despite her reluctance for media attention due to a debilitating stutter she's had since childhood, Annie stood by the astronaut again when he was elected to the Senate in 1974.

At age 53, Annie entered the Communications Research Institute at Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia, for three weeks of intensive, specialized therapy to overcome her speech impediment.

Annie Glenn
Annie Glenn (center)
| Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

"I was considered to have an 85 percent speech impediment, which means I stuttered that much of the time," she said in a 1980 PEOPLE profile. "I can remember some very painful experiences — especially the ridicule. People would tell me to hurry up or start shouting at me because they thought I was deaf and dumb."

Following the success of the therapy, Annie devoted her time to helping others with severe stutters. "My greatest pride is when I am able to encourage other stutterers to come out of hiding and tackle their problem. I have always had love and been happy. Now I want to help others feel that way too," she told PEOPLE.

In 1983, Annie received an award from the American Speech and Hearing Association for her service to those with speech disorders. Four years later, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association created a national award in her name.

She also worked as an adjunct professor in the Speech Pathology Department at the Ohio State University’s Department of Speech and Hearing Science.

Annie had been married to her husband for 73 years when he passed away in 2006.

"Annie Glenn was a special kind of public hero. She conquered her own personal challenge – her speech impediment – and appropriately used her position as the spouse of a prominent public person to help advocate for others who struggled as she did. She was also just a really warm and nice person. We’ll miss her as much as we do Senator Glenn," said Trevor Brown, the dean of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, said in a statement.

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“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Annie Glenn. A stalwart member of the space and military communities, her courageous support of her legendary husband John was unmatched," NASA said in a statement.

“She provided an example for other women who followed to face the challenges of being part of our nation’s space program, and the stress of having spouses in combat. She stood steadfastly by her husband as he took to space once again as the oldest person to orbit Earth, even as she continued her own lifelong public service on behalf of children, the elderly, and the disabled."

The statement continued, “The Glenns dedication to each other is well known, and we looked to them as an unmatched example of the strength and compassion that a lifetime of devotion creates. She will be missed.”

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