Ann Seymour Brown Ashcraft was born the second of three children to Winn and Annie Ruth Brown, of Horn Lake, Mississippi. Always the proper Southern lady, her joyful, Christ-centered love was evidenced to all she met—first through a warm and caring smile and then through the thoughtful and countless deeds done for others.
Growing up in “Old Horn Lake”, Ann thrilled to be a “farm girl” – a little cowgirl following in the path of her Grandfather, Harvey Hurt, with her beloved horse, Trigger, she enjoyed many childhood adventures with her brothers, cousins and friends. Ann was a voracious reader and was taught to love music from an early age. She played the piano and clarinet, but she was primarily a soprano with a pure, dynamic voice. To Ann, singing was truly an act of praise to God, and she was always willing to share her passion for song and music.
In school at Horn Lake, Ann was active in band, plays and musicals, Beta Club, basketball and track. She graduated as salutatorian of her class and matriculated on to follow in the footsteps of her mother at Mississippi State College for Women (“The W”), now Mississippi University for Women.
Also much like her Mother, The W provided the framework for her future in three parts –education, faith and family: an excellent preparation and training in elementary education and music, further growth in faith and her Methodist heritage through the Wesley Foundation, Chapel Choir, and Morning Watch, and an introduction to a very special Air Force pilot-in-training, Lee Ashcraft. They soon became engaged and letters flew back and forth across the world as Lee served overseas and Ann finished her senior year of college.
Upon his return, the couple carried on the family tradition of marrying at Horn Lake UMC and set out to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for their first military assignment together at K.I. Sawyer A.F.B. To keep warm, the new couple spread their Southern charm through numerous base and community activities such as teaching children’s Sunday school classes together and singing in the Base Chapel Choir. While Lee flew, Ann went to preschool – where she introduced newly-learned techniques to the base school and began the career she loved – working to help those with reading disabilities.
Ruth came along on their second assignment in Selma, Alabama; then it was back to Michigan again, where Betsy completed the family. In a desire to always be near “home”, Lee and Ann moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where Lee flew corporate jets and finished out his military flying in the Air National Guard.
With a temporary move to Jamestown, North Carolina, for Lee to begin flying for Piedmont airlines (now USAir), Ann delved into PTA and library-founding activities through the Friends of Jamestown School. Their time there forged lasting memories and friendships cherished long after they moved back to Horn Lake. Ann was ecstatic to be “home” again at last! Her love for this community never diminished – it only grew as she fostered her rich heritage and love for Horn Lake and DeSoto County in her husband and children.
Ann was deeply involved in the community through the Friends of the Horn Lake Library and served as a Library Trustee, Secretary and Membership Chair for the Historic DeSoto Foundation Board, worked tirelessly with her Mother and others in the establishment of the Historic DeSoto Museum, and coordinated and directed the annual Historic DeSoto Museum Days. She was very active in the PTF at her daughters’ schools, chaperoned band trips and tutored at SBEC (now North Point Christian School) for years. She served on the Horn Lake Alumni Association scholarship committee, and was a regular volunteer with Lee for the Hernando DeSoto affiliate of Habitat for Humanity.
A lifelong member of Horn Lake Methodist Church, Ann was actively involved from childhood on in church programs, Cluster functions, served as a MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) leader and directed the children’s choir, summer music programs and a myriad of Vacation Bible School music sessions.
Throughout her life, she continued her passion for education. She tutored children privately and in schools, and worked with adults through the DeSoto Literacy Council. Her other calling was Christian education – she taught years of Sunday school lessons, writing her own when she didn’t like the curriculum provided. She led youth groups, trips and choirs—blending her love of God, music and ministry; and as always, she consistently led and taught by example.
Her enjoyment of God’s blessings through nature’s simple gifts was limitless and her enthusiasm was contagious– the sweetness of the first spring flowers –jonquils, and violets; the splendor of summer blooms – zinnias, impatiens, hydrangeas and roses; the cool crispness of the first autumn breezes and gloriously colored leaves; the sparkle and fun of snowflakes, sledding and playing in even the tiniest amount of snow; the majesty of God’s promise in rainbows; the joy of a simple walk in the pasture, and all the treasures to be found there.
So many of Ann’s activities were made all the sweeter by sharing them with lifelong friends and family; her years of living away from home with the military instilled in her a compassionate understanding and desire to befriend anyone who needed a taste of home, family and roots. With the abundance of love and deep heritage of faith, community and compassion in her heart, Ann’s love knew no bounds and always stretched to make room for more. Ann’s daily exemplification of the love of a mother, wife, daughter and friend was beyond compare. Her bright smile and generous, caring heart will be cherished always and missed by all.
She was preceded in death by her parents Winn D. Brown, Sr. and Annie Ruth Hurt Brown, and is survived by her husband, Lee Ashcraft; daughters: Ruth Munday and husband Greg; Betsy Ashcraft Walker and husband Brent; brothers: Winn D. Brown, Jr. and wife Phil, and William A. (Bill) Brown and wife Mary Lee; a large and loving extended family, and countless friends.
Funeral arrangements are through Hernando Funeral Home with visitation and services at Hernando United Methodist Church (1890 Mount Pleasant Road, Hernando, MS). Visitation will be Saturday, January 14, from 5:00 – 7:30 PM. The service will be at 2:00 PM on Sunday, January 15, with a grave-side service and interment following at New Bethlehem Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Horn Lake United Methodist Church (P.O. Box 113, Horn Lake, MS 38637), Hernando DeSoto Habitat for Humanity (P.O. Box 845, Hernando, MS 38632), Historic DeSoto County Museum (111 East Commerce Street, Hernando, MS 38632) or charity of choice.
Hernando Funeral Home