Advocate and author Anna Renault passes away, leaves legacy behind
If you have spent any time in eastern Baltimore County, you know Anna Renault. From her residence at the Back River Neck Peninsula, she made a name for herself as an activist, an author, and an advocate over the past several decades.
Renault passed away on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 1, at the age of 68, leaving behind a name and legacy that will be remembered by all who knew her and all she ever helped and inspired along the way.
You’ve seen her in the pages of the Avenue News for over a decade with her weekly editorial and “On Health” columns.
During the ups-and-downs of her health struggles, she was always writing.
She devoted herself to writing full-time after she retired from the Maryland State Department of Education’s Division of Rehabilitation Services.
Her first book, “Anna’s Journey” was published in 2011. The book chronicles Anna’s many trials and tribulations through life, including some near-death experiences and her multiple bouts with cancer. From there, she had over a dozen books published to her name, including a series of children’s books about Mitzy and Francine, the butterflies, which taught important environmental lessons, a book of poetry, a series of photo anthologies, and health books about dealing with cancer diagnoses.
Her final book “My 40 Year Dance with Cancer” was released last year.
When she wasn’t writing, Anna was helping.
Earlier this year, she was appointed to the Baltimore County Commission for Women to represent the 7th district. The commission focused on issues such as human trafficking, domestic violence and women’s health while promoting education and legislative actions.
Renault also acted as a member of the Patient Advisory Board at Franklin Square Hospital. She served on the Parish Council at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and was a member of the Holly Neck Conservation Association and the Back River Restoration
Committee. She was also a key organizer and volunteer for cancer awareness events like the Relay for Life.
She had fought a long, and difficult, 40-year battle with cancer. First diagnosed in 1977, Anna had survived several bouts of cancer, including two different skin cancers in the 80’s, two bouts of colon cancer in the 90’s and two episodes of ovarian tumors in 2005 before she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009.
She was also plagued with other health issues, such as lupus and heart problems.
Throughout treatments, diagnoses, remission, and hospital stays, Renault was always up-front and honest about her struggles. Through her “On Health” column she shared healthy living tips and information all garnered through her research and experiences. These columns amassed a large following, being published in 10 newspapers all across the country.
When news of her passing made it on to social media, community members and officials were quick to recount their memories of Anna and to reflect on all she had done for Baltimore County.
“She was a tremendous community advocate, a journalist and, most importantly, a fighter. I hope that she can finally rest peacefully, now,” wrote Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger.
“Anna Renault was a steadfast champion of the community and a daily example of perseverance for many to follow,” added Councilman Todd Crandell (R-7).
Other comments heralded Anna’s strength, grace, and kindness in the face of all the adversity she faced.
Renault credited her survival and strength on God, but anybody that knew her, knew what a fighting spirit she had. Even during bad days, or weeks where her illnesses flared up, she was never slowed down, turning in her assignments on time and showing up to every community meeting.
“Anna did not need to leave her house to change the world. Through her columns in the Avenue News and her extensive writings, she used her pen and keyboard to effect change in her community. Through all types of adversity, Anna’s voice remained strong, and essential,” wrote Nicole Rodman, the editor of the Dundalk Eagle newspaper.
She lived every second of her life to the fullest. In October 2017, Anna took a train trip across the country, holding book signings in various states, speaking at a cancer conference in California, visiting readers in Texas, and taking in the autumnal colors in Oregon.
Despite her many travels, Anna’s soul was wedded to Essex.
Renault’s last column for this paper was a dedication to Jackie Nickel, the former editor of the Avenue News, who passed away, from cancer, 11 years ago. This was fitting, as both women were advocates for the community while leaving behind stories of positivity and resiliency.
The slogan on one of Renault’s books, “Anna’s Journey” asks “How many lives does one person get?” For Anna, her one life was enough. In her 68 years, she left an indelible impact on the community and everybody she came in contact with.
Renault is sur vived by her daughter, Sue, her three grandchildren, David, Jeremy, and Theresa, and her pet dog, Aero. Anna’s family and friends will be hosting a Memorial Mass for Anna on Saturday, August 11 at 10:00 am at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church with a reception to follow at the Mt. Carmel Knights of Columbus Hall. We will all miss her. For more information on Anna, her writing, and the life she lived, visit www.annarenault.com.