Mary Ann Canan passed away in Billings, Montana, on December 18, 2020, with her family by her side. She was born on September 21, 1926, in Englewood, New Jersey, to Robert and Mary Peckett. She was raised in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire, where she and her sister loved to ride horses through the woods. After high school, she worked in a card shop and gave ski lessons to guests of the family hotel, Peckett’s-on-Sugar-Hill.
At the age of 24, she moved to Washington, D.C., to work for Senator Styles Bridges. She would search through all the newspapers, find articles mentioning him, and put them in a scrapbook. Her time in the Washington sparked her lifelong interest in politics. Voting was especially important to her, and we would not be served dinner on election night until we voted.
While in Washington, she met James Canan. They were married on March 7, 1952. Jim wanted to be married on February 29 so he would only have to remember their anniversary every four years, but the Navy interrupted those plans. Every four years, they would celebrate “his” anniversary and “her” anniversary. After Jim’s discharge from the Navy, he took a job with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and they moved west, finally ending up in Billings, Montana, in 1962.
Mary Ann loved to ski and was a season pass holder at Red Lodge, Montana, for over 40 years. She had a little book where she kept track of each day she went skiing so she could keep track of when she paid off her ski pass. Her favorite day of skiing was the day she had skied enough days to pay for her pass and afterwards was “skiing for free.” She also noted in the book who went with her and the skiing conditions. She was able to ski until the age of 83.
Another favorite pastime was to walk her dog. For many years, she was a daily visitor to Zimmerman Park. Even in her later years, she tried to go for a walk every day. She would watch the flags outside her retirement home window to assess how much the wind was blowing and the likelihood of being able to go for a walk. Many knew her as “the lady who walks.”
Other activities included attending the Billings Symphony, volunteering with the League of Women Voters, and attending Sunday services at the First Presbyterian Church. During the COVID pandemic, she attended Sunday “Church in the Chair” on Facebook.
She is survived by four children, James (Julie) Canan of Portland, Oregon, Deborah Canan of Billings, David (Kathryn) Canan of Grass Valley, California, and Robert (Peggy) Canan of Billings. She is also survived by seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Jim in 2009, her parents and her siblings.
Special thanks to the caregivers at Morningstar who cared for her the past several years.
A memorial service will be held later.