Esther Annalee “Ann” Ayers went the distance, even when she was afraid

Saturday, August 30, 2014 | 9:28 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Esther Annalee "Ann" Ayers offered her friendship freely; her home was always ready to welcome family, friends, visiting ministers, missionaries and traveling college students.

“Mom loved to entertain,” her son Rod Ayers said.

Mrs. Ayers of Williams, Ariz., died Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. She was 93.

Mrs. Ayers was born Nov. 25, 1920, in Normal, Ill., to Edmund Milo and Elva May Stuckey Augspurger. She married Joseph B. Ayers on Feb. 28, 1943.

Mrs. Ayers "was always up for an adventure,” Rod Ayers said.

He recalled when they decided, on a whim, to make a 700-mile road trip to Bloomington, Ill., Rod said they were sitting at lunch and the next thing he knew, they had packed up the car and were on the road.

She had previously taken a cross-country road trip with her husband and youngest daughter. They would camp at various locations on the way.

Although Mrs. Ayers did not like heights, she overcame that fear in order to visit her family. Before boarding a plane to see her son in Arizona, she practiced by sitting near a window several stories up, something she would not regularly do.

When it came time for the flight home from the trip, Mrs. Ayers had declared she would be sitting in a window seat.

Mrs. Ayers studied at the Mennonite College of Nursing to become a surgical nurse in Bloomington, Ill. After graduation, she worked at the Mennonite Hospital, the University of Missouri Medical Center, Christian College and the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. She retired from the hospital around 1985.

Mrs. Ayers enjoyed many hobbies such as playing tennis, volunteering at the Columbia Regional Hospital, singing in the church choir, playing piano and traveling. She even made her own applesauce.

Rod Ayers remembers the autumn trips to McBaine to gather the ingredients. “Mom would fill up the freezer with applesauce,” he said.

Once Rod had moved away, he said he would try and conjure up ways to get her to send some of her homemade applesauce to him. It was always a treat.

Mrs. Ayers was a member of the Northwood Baptist Church of Columbia. She sang in the church choir for years and was also a substitute pianist.

“She liked to go for rides in the country after Sunday dinners,” Rod said. Dinners were usually pot roast, carrots, potatoes and sometimes corn. Her family never lacked for anything, her son recalls, yet Mrs. Ayers always wished she would have been able to do more for her kids.

Her son delivered statements at her services on Saturday.

“To the extent that I show love and mercy and grace, thoughtfulness, caring, all of these things are what my mom taught me. Not by the words she used, but by the life she lived,” Rod said in his remarks.

Mrs. Ayers is survived by three children, Rod Ayers of La Palma, Calif., Steve Ayers of St. Joseph and Barbara Bach of Williams, Ariz.; five grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; and two siblings, Lois Shamer of Moorestown, N.J. and Don Augspurger of Normal, Ill.

Her husband, Joseph B. Ayers; parents; two siblings, Ruth Connor and Dean Augspurger and granddaughter Tanya Ayers died earlier.

The visitation was Friday at Bach-Yager Funeral Chapel, 1610 N. Garth Ave. Services followed the visitation on Saturday morning at the chapel.

Memorial tributes can be sent to the family at

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