Influential PWS: Annie Glenn

Written by Jurjen and Vinnie

Annie Glenn, an eternal voice for people who stutter

John Glenn (1921-2016) was the fifth person and later the oldest person until now in space and served four terms as a U.S. senator from Ohio. He probably could not have done all of this without having a strong woman at his side. This woman was Annie Glenn (1920-2020), who unfortunately passed away recently due to this horrible virus that is haunting us: Covid-19. However, she wasn’t just the wife of John Glenn, she was also a champion for people who stutter and will always be remembered for that.

File:Annie and John Glenn 1965 in Schiphol.jpg - Wikipedia
Picture: John Glenn and Annie Glenn with their child in Amsterdam.
Source: Wikimedia commons

Annie wasn’t alone with her stutter at home because her father had a stutter as well. This might also have had an effect in how she dealt with stuttering because she never felt limited by her stuttering when she was young. However, this changed a bit later in her life, when she started to feel ashamed for her stuttering. It is for example known that before she went shopping, she wrote down what she wanted to get and gave the notes to the people in the shop if she needed help. She was also very scared to use the telephone, so she let her husband, John, do the necessary calls. Or her children answered questions from the media for her because she didn’t want to be interviewed herself.

Because of her struggle she decided at the age of 53 to join a three week course named: ‘fluency-shaping program’. This course improved her dysfluency, but she told everyone that this wasn’t a cure. Most importantly, it brought her more confidence to speak with others. It also gave her the motivation to fight for more understanding of stuttering because she wanted to let the world know that people who stutter aren’t shy, unsocial, or unintelligent. Besides, she became a professor in the speech pathology department at Ohio State University’s department of speech and hearing science and served on many advisory boards of numerous speech and hearing (and child-abuse) organisations. There is now even an award named after her, called ‘the Annie’, by the American Speech-Language-Hearing association. It is given to someone who gives his/her “invincible spirit in building awareness on behalf of those with communication disorders”. When John, who besides his space career also had a political career, was campaigning, Annie gave speeches at public events. Something she thought that she couldn’t do. 

If you wonder how John Glenn thought about her stuttering, he said once: “I don’t know, maybe it was just that we grew up together with it, and I knew the person she was and loved the person she was, and that was that.”

Annie Glenn will live on as an inspiration for all of us and deserves definitely a place within our Stamily famous people who stutter list. She was also portrayed beautifully in the movie ‘The Right Stuff’ (1983), with special attention to her stuttering. We compiled some interesting clips from the film.

Annie Glenn in 1965.jpg
Picture: Annie Glenn in 1965.
Source: Wikimedia commons

Source:

Neil Genzlinger,

“Annie Glenn, Champion of Those With Speech Disorders, Dies at 100.”

New York Times, link:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/19/us/annie-glenn-dead.html, last visited: 12/12/2020