Ad­vo­cate and au­thor Anna Re­nault passes away, leaves legacy be­hind

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By: GIANNA DECARLO gde­carlo@ches­pub.com

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.

ANNA RE­NAULT

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