Anneliese Fangmann was born March 9th, 1928 to parents Joseph and Maria (Imsiecke) Fangmann in Dinklage, Germany. The third of four children, she had two older brothers (Berthold and Herman) and one younger sister (Hildegard).
When Anneliese’s father died of pneumonia in the later 1930’s, her mother and siblings moved to her grandmother’s house in Cloppenburg, Germany. When World War II broke out in 1939, the Catholic schools were closed, and the teaching nuns were transferred to the public schools along with their students. During her later years in high school, Anneliese did volunteer work in the local Catholic hospital because most of the nurses had been sent back to their family home towns.
After high school, Anneliese enrolled in the nursing school in Osnabruck where she completed her training. On the day of her graduation, her uncle picked her up and brought her to his house since his wife was dying of breast cancer. The wife died in 1949 and her uncle asked Anneliese to take care of his two boys, then 5 and 10 years old. She did this for the next six years.
A cousin of Anneliese’s mother, Sister Bonaventura Benning, a Franciscan nun, was Mother Superior and administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bloomington, Illinois. In 1955 Sister Bonaventura was visiting Germany and Anneliese asked her about coming to the United States to get more nursing experience. Sister Bonaventura enthusiastically agreed, since she was in need of additional nurses at her hospital. Later that year, Anneliese was in Illinois and working as a registered nurse.
An engineer at General Electric who had fled Germany to escape the Nazis, invited Anneliese to dinner one evening where he introduced her to Bob Alley. Bob was about to have a one-year stint as exchange engineer with AEG, a German firm, and their mutual acquaintance thought it would be beneficial for Bob to get a preview of what to expect when we went overseas.
Not long thereafter, Anneliese’s mother joined her in Bloomington, and they rented a house together. In 1958, they were joined by Anneliese’s sister and sister’s husband, Heinz and Hilde Hanekamp. Heinz, a master electrician, also found employment at the hospital in their maintenance department.
Bob and Anneliese reconnected in 1960 and, after a brief courtship, were married in November of that year. In 1961 their son Thomas Michael was born. In 1963 they were transferred to Danville, Illinois, where GE had another factory. A second son, Robert Peter, followed in 1966 and daughter, Susie Marie, joined them in 1967. During these years Anneliese worked weekends in nursing jobs as a way to keep her nursing skills up to date.
To maintain the bilingual capability in the children, they were sent to relatives or friends in Germany about every other year. They all retain some conversational skills, but these are not used much in the United States. To sharpen this at home with the children, a German Shepherd Dog was brought into the family and the children were told they had to speak in that language to the dog. Even the neighbor children learned to converse that way with this four-legged sibling!
In 1977 the family was transferred to Syracuse, New York and Anneliese volunteered in the local high school library with other parents and also in the local Catholic elementary school. The children were enrolled in German lessons on weekends to build up dual language proficiency.
In 1984 another transfer took them to Clifton Park, New York, for Bob’s assignment to the Corporate Research Laboratory. Again, Anneliese was involved in a very active local German Club with the children for language and social activities. In the intervening years Thomas graduated from high school and enrolled at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Robbie joined him when he graduated high school, and both eventually graduated from that university, Thomas with a BS in Chemical Engineering and Robbie with a BS in Accounting. Robbie then transferred to the State University of New York in Albany where he obtained his MBA and started working for the Veterans Administration in Chicago.
In the 1980’s a neighbor and close friend in Syracuse had retired to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. After Bob and Anneliese visited them it was decided that the Alley’s should build a small vacation home in that city and rent it out until retirement. They completed this house in the mid-1980’s and it later proved to be a wise and fortuitous decision.
In 1990 Bob fractured his back in a car accident and retired from GE in 1991 after 42 years of service. Soon thereafter, he and Anneliese relocated to North Myrtle Beach. In the meantime, property next to their friends in North Myrtle Beach became available and was purchased.
Bob got to work designing their new home, and in 1992 a house was erected on this vacant, half-acre, wooded lot, four blocks from the ocean. Included was an indoor pool as suggested by Bob’s orthopedic back surgeon. It was very nice, and soon Anneliese and other ladies in her circles were coming three times a week for “exercises”. Anneliese became very active in the Lady’s Guild of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church and founded a quilting group which made a quilt for raffle in the church’s yearly craft sale, bringing in about $2,000 from each raffle!!!
In 2006 Anneliese had a “cardiac event” while distributing quilting material. Following surgery to replace a failed heart valve, she made a rapid and vigorous recovery.
In 2007 breast cancer appeared and after a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery at Emory in Atlanta, she started fund-raising lunches for the American Cancer Society to repay them for their support during her recovery. These lunches, hosted at Bob and Anneliese’s home, quickly bloomed to over 100 attendees and netted the Cancer Society over $20,000 annually. Anneliese and her team were recognized as one of the top fund-raisers by the American Cancer Society and were featured in an extensive article by the local newspaper.
Anneliese’s sister, Hilde, and Hilde’s husband, Heinz Hanekamp, owned a travel agency in Pontiac, Illinois. They arranged business incentive tours for various local businesses and for these they needed tour guides, and since Anneliese likes to travel, she was happy to go along and help. Other trips were taken when Heinz discovered some special discounts, allowing Anneliese and Bob to become seasoned world travelers, visiting many places in Europe, Russia, Asia, Africa, and South America.
Recognizing that they were beginning to slow down, in 2012 Bob and Anneliese moved in with Robbie, still a bachelor, in Glendale Heights. Soon thereafter they purchased a house together in Bloomingdale that had the space they needed along with a 3-car garage for all of their vehicles. Other than Anneliese’s sister, Hilde, and Hilde’s daughter, Heidi, social contacts became harder to make since both Bob and Anneliese had become less active and the neighbors were much younger. Anneliese’s health also deteriorated and some frenzied treatment by one heart specialist ended with a visit to the Mayo Clinic in 2014.
Anneliese’s two older brothers, Herman and Berthold, died in Germany in 2014 within a few weeks of one other. Hilde, her sister, died in Germany in 2015. Around the same time Anneliese began to develop dementia-like memory problems.
Just before Christmas 2018, Anneliese’s condition suddenly worsened. After a brief hospitalization, her need for round-the-clock supervision and care necessitated her admission to a nursing home. She died on February 2nd, 2019 following a brief illness.
Anneliese was a communicant at St. Isidore Catholic Church in Bloomingdale, Illinois.
The family wishes to express their deep gratitude for the compassion and care shown by the staff at the DuPage Care Center.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.
Beloved wife of Robert P.; Devoted mother of Thomas (Lisa), Rob and Susie; Dear sister of the late Herman, Berthold, Hildegard; Dear grandmother of Kathryn, William, Elizabeth and Corrine; Fond great grandmother of Gia and the Anthony. Family and friends to meet on Saturday 11:45 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 225 W. Owsley St., Chenoa,61726, Mass 12 noon. Interment St. Mary’s Cemetery at the intersection of 1760 E. Bullet Rd and 1720 N Livingston, less than 2 mile east of the Calvary Baptist Church on Highway 116. Visitation Friday 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.at Salerno’s Rosedale Chapels, 450 W. Lake, Roselle, 60172(3/4 mile west of Bloomingdale/Roselle Rd)