Ann Bernadette (Kneeshaw) Staeheli Nov. 4, 1921 - July 9, 2012 Ann Bernadette (Kneeshaw) Staeheli passed away peacefully with family members present on Monday July 9th, 2012. Ann lived a long life of devotion to her Catholic faith and dedication to her large extended family. Ann was born in Tacoma on Nov. 4, 1921, the second of four children, to Francis and Josephine Kneeshaw. She was a Tacoma girl through and through and told stories of "many a time and place".
In her youth Ann developed under the kind guidance of the Tacoma Dominicans as she attended St. Patrick's grade school and graduated Aquinas Academy as "Miss Aquinas" in 1940. At the end of high school she was introduced to a young National Guardsman, George Staeheli from Spokane while he was training near Tacoma. They began a friendship. She then enrolled at Seattle University nursing school but her education was cut short in March 1941 by the forever deep loss when her father, was struck down while walking by a speeding delivery truck. Ann then went to work at her father's friend's jewelry store- Grimstead's, helping her mother and younger brothers.
Romance blossomed as World War II began and Ann worked and corresponded with George while he entered and completed Naval Aviator training in Florida. Ann married Ensign George W. Staeheli at St. Patrick's Church in Tacoma on June 26, 1943 and began her life of travels and living in other parts of the country with Tacoma as home base. She stayed in Tacoma as a young Navy wife with child while George, went off to war as a Navy fighter pilot in the Pacific aboard the aircraft carrier Yorktown. When George returned from combat in August 1944, Ann and George continued their marriage journey and US Navy life together through post-war deployments and duty relocations from New York to Norfolk VA to Monterey CA.
In 1952 LCDR George W. Staeheli, USN was again called to war in Korea aboard the aircraft Carrier USS Oriskany flying combat missions over North Korea. Ann again put her trust in God, now with 5 children praying for their father's safe return. Next stop after Korea and Monterey, CA was McChord AFB in 1954 returning to her family and friends in Tacoma. LCDR George Staeheli was Naval Liaison to the USAF fighter interceptor squadrons and became a qualified F-86 fighter pilot. Meanwhile Ann continued the role of active mother of eight children in St. Pat's parish.
In January 1958 CDR George Staeheli was reassigned to command a Navy fighter squadron in Moffat Field, CA. Misfortune struck again in Ann's life in June 1958 when her husband was killed due to a flameout in his FJ4B Fury jet at high altitude in icing conditions on a pre-deployment training mission over Oregon.
With trust in God and firm in her faith, Ann continued life's journey as a widow with eight children and another on the way. As her children grew and tested her, Ann used her deep brown eyes and ready wink as quiet behavior modification and remained the pillar of strength, hope, trust and faith in God. She continued to use her Irish eyes and wit through her care and dedication towards her grandchildren. She kept a strong family focus on faith, education and world events always encouraging travel.
Ann extended her love by opening her home and heart to her nieces and nephews, second and third cousins and many neighbors and friends. She nurtured four CCS foster infants sending them out with love and tears to their adoptive families. Throughout her life she was always ready to quietly assist those in need; she was a mother to many. In 1961, the Tacoma News Tribune honored her as "Mother of the Year". She was a member of Catholic Daughters, The Legion of Mary, Tacoma Seaman Center and Pregnancy Aid. She maintained lifelong friendships and organized her yearly class reunions. This legacy of family, friendship, outreach, charity and love will extend forever in those she touched by example.
In addition to her parents, her late husband CDR George W. Staeheli USN and her infant daughter MaryAnn Kathleen (d. 1958), Ann was also predeceased by her sister Rita Degon, and brother David Kneeshaw. Ann spent her last weeks with her brother John Kneeshaw at her side as they went together on a well deserved path to a peaceful eternity.
She is survived by her eight children (and spouses), Therese, Patrick (Estrellita), Joseph (Patricia), Mary Ann, George, John (Marilyn), Peg (John Troup), Christopher (Anita) and her twenty-one grandchildren, Divina, Carmen, Guadalupe, Nicole-Marie, Dominic, Fernando, Celine, Joline, Paul, Robert, Korine, Christine, John, Jimmie, Greg, Joe, Anne, Rita, J.T., Ian and Laura, and fourteen great grandchildren and her always special nieces and nephews.
The Staeheli family extends its appreciation to the emergency room staff at St. Joseph's and the caring staff of Tacoma Lutheran Home for their kindness and smiles during Mom's time in their care. A combined Funeral Mass to celebrate Ann's and her brother John's lives will take place Friday, July 20, 2012, 10:00 am at St. Patrick Church 1001 N. J St. Tacoma, with evening Rosaries Thursday, July 19, 2012, 7:00 pm at St Patrick Church. Memorials to St. Patrick School, St. Patrick Seniors, Pregnancy Aid, Sisters of St. Dominic are welcomed. Please leave online condolences at www.gaffneycares.com. Arrangements by Gaffney Funeral Home, 253-572-6003.