Anna (Turko) Slemmer

Anna (Turko) Slemmer of Lawrence, Kansas passed away on Monday, June 17, 2019 in her home with family by her side. Anna was born on April 16, 1937 in Poland to Peter and Julia (Baysa) Turko. Her early childhood was spent in Poland and in German and Soviet occupied areas during World War II. Due to the war and its aftermath, she was unable to begin her education until her family immigrated to the United States in 1947. Anna graduated from the University of Michigan with a Master’s degree in education, specializing in library sciences. Anna served as a librarian in Michigan where she met her husband, Bill, also a librarian. They eventually moved to Roseburg, Oregon where they raised son Jonathan until Bill’s death in 1980. Anna continued to work mostly as a librarian until her retirement from the VA in 1999. During much of this time, Anna was the head of a household that included her son, her mother, and her brother. Anna had a feisty spirit that people were drawn to and she enjoyed spending time with family and friends, but she also valued her independence and solitude.

She is survived by her brother, Peter Turko; son, Jonathan Slemmer; daughter-in-law, Kristi Neufeld; granddaughter, Olivia Slemmer; grandson, Nathaniel Slemmer, all of Lawrence; many nieces and nephews and relatives by marriage; and a special friend, Dan Gayman, of Eugene, Oregon. She was preceded in death by her husband, William Slemmer; mother, Julia Turko; father, Peter Turko; and sister, Irene Williams.

Anna loved nature and took continuing education classes to study birds, plants, flowers, rocks, and mushrooms. Her biggest passion was birding and she regularly participated in bird counts, built countless bird houses, wrote birding articles for The News-Review, and held officer positions in the Umpqua Valley Audubon Society. Anna considered her backyard to be a sanctuary and she would attract numerous birds there with feed, water, and shelter.

Anna was an ardent supporter of the Democratic Party and encouraged everyone she met to impact the system by voting. You might remember Anna’s passionate and provocative Letters to the Editor of local papers.

Some of her other favorite activities were to read books, listen to the news and National Public Radio, go to movies, and attend her grandchildren’s performances, concerts, and athletic events. She was also a supporter of the Umpqua Unitarian Universalist Church.

With the many challenges Anna endured, especially during her childhood years and after losing her husband, Anna was resolute and faced these setbacks with strength and courage. Anna was fearlessly devoted to her family and a wonderful mother and friend to her son. Peace and social activist, philanthropist, educator, collector and sharer of words, author, listener, inspirer, believer, and egalitarian appreciator. We congratulate Anna on a life well lived.

A celebration of Anna’s life will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 24 at 4001 West 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66049.

Memorial contributions may be made in her name to the Roseburg Public Library (make checks to: City of Roseburg), 1409 NE Diamond Lake Blvd., Suite 100, Roseburg, OR 97470 or the Umpqua Valley Audubon Society, PO Box 381, Roseburg, OR 97470, or made in her name to Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association, 200 Maine Street, Suite C, Lawrence, KS 66044.

Messages & Condolences

From Betsy MacLean...

I have fond childhood memories of my Aunt Anna and Uncle Bill when we visited the family in Pennsylvania and camped together in Bar Harbor, ME. At a young age, it was clear to me that Anna had a gentle yet powerful presence. I wish that time and distance were softer barriers to overcome so that I could have known her more as an adult. My condolences to Jonathan and family in their loss but hope they are comforted in knowing the positive impact Anna had on those around her.

From Cindy Shroba...

I met Anna through UVAS when I lived in Roseburg. I’m saddened to hear of her passing. My sincere condolences to family and friends. She enriched UVAS and the birding community through her work and has inspired us all.

From Tonya Day...

Jonathan Slemmer,
I am so sorry to here about your mom. I looked on line to see who past away and came across your mom I had to read twice.I was the one that took care of Peter for about a year. I really loved your mom. I talked to here about two months ago and ask how she was doing and she said she was doing fine and two months gone by and she has past. Life is really short.

From Ann Sedlacek...

I met Anna during the 1980s while we were both working at the VA in Roseburg. She was such a remarkable woman. I loved Anna and miss her.

From Ann Sedlacek...

I first met Anna when we both worked for the VA in the 1980s. She brought so much knowledge, kindness and joy to so many. She was truly a remarkable woman. Our world was a better place with Anna in it. I didn’t know her grandchildren but hope she was able to pass on her love of birds, her activism and her joy to them both.

From bob duey...

Anna was a thoughtful and we shared ideas . She was the kind of person that all of us should be. We met at at democrat party meeting. When she spoke I listened. Anna gained my respect and admiration.
The world need ladies like her.

From Jemma Crae...

I will always remember Anna Slemmer being a positive, happy, welcoming woman. She was a member of our Umpqua Unitarian Congregation and was an inciteful person who believed in the inherent worth and dignity of all and in our connection to the web of life. I loved coming to her home and seeing the birds gleefully feeding at her feeders. She was a wonder. Jemma Crae

From Barbara Fontaine...

I encountered Anna several times during my work with the Forest Service. She came to public meetings to stand up for conservation. Her comments were right on point and she did not mince words. I was always please to see her come to the Forest Service and participate—she stood out as one of the special people.

From Jan Pool...

Oh Anna! I hope someone read you my recent email telling you that the bluebirds have decided to nest in the house you gave me. My love to Peter and Jonathan.

From Jody & Kathy Mitchell...

We feel privileged to have known and loved Anna. Her infectious laughter and sometimes querky sense of humor make our hearts smile as we remember her.

From Diana Wales...

So sorry to hear of Anna’s passing. She contributed so much to the community during the years she lived in Roseburg, Oregon. Her smile and laughter livened up many a committee meeting – she had such a gift for being inclusive.

From Kathy and Stan Vejtasa...

Stan and I met Anna through Umpqua Valley Audubon Society. She was a cheerful and tireless worker, and served as a role model for those of us who continue with UVAS.

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