Miss Anne, a pillar of the community, right in the center of town

When Phyl and I first moved to Shady Drive in Bridge City, back in the mid 1950s, the first neighbors we knew lived across the street. The young lady was so beautiful, her body shaped so perfectly that I knew she must be a princess. She rode a big white horse and was quite a sight on that mount. I was told she had been a rodeo queen and she had been a barrel racer. She sat up straight in the saddle, her tiny waist rigid, her dark hair waving in the breeze.

She was gorgeous to look at. That’s how I remember Ann Segura more than 50 years ago. Her beauty never left her. In fact, when I got to know her and throughout those years became her friend, I learned that she was even more beautiful than what showed on the outside. Her real qualities were her inner self. She was caring, giving, and compassionate and she loved and praised the Lord.

She was married to Jimmy, a guy from New Iberia, La., where he had made quite a name for himself as a boxer. He was small in statue but tough as nails. She had been raised in East Texas as a cowgirl. The couple had just moved to Bridge City from Chicago where Jimmy had operated a cleaning press. They had come to open a business here where Ann would be closer to her East Texas family. They established Bridge City Cleaners that Jimmy ran until his death several years ago.

After Jimmy’s death, Ann took over the operation of the cleaners.

You never knew if you would get a kiss or a hug but when you walked into her place you were sure to get a big smile and a kind welcome. Despite having knee surgery many years ago, and often a shortage of help, she did the daily chores the long established business required. Ann knew everyone in town and had watched most of them being raised from birth. Ann’s cleaners was always the best place to find out the happenings. For many years they were the only cleaners in town. That was before perm-a-press and wash and wears. However, most folks in the community, at some time or other, had to have their go-to-town, funeral or Sunday services outfits cleaned and pressed. Jimmy and Ann knew more people than most.

Ann became a fixture in the community. Everyone loved Ms. Ann. If Bridge City were a monarchy, Ann would have been the queen.

For many years she occupied the same pew at First Baptist Church.

Being a Catholic, I often gave her a hard time about her faith, telling her about all the fun she was missing by not being Catholic. If she ever had a bad thought, and I’m sure if so they were few, she probably beat herself up over them. That’s how certain she was that she wanted to go to heaven. She would in no way jeopardize that.
Friday was a special day to Ann. That’s when, from noon to 1 p.m., she would be at Ginger’s Beauty Shop and Bobbie would do her hair. She always wanted to be, and was, well groomed. Like her church seat, she also had her own parking spot at the shop. You always knew where to find her on Friday. I never saw her with a hair out of place.

Jimmy, a few years her senior, was quite a rounder. He and his friends, Coon Vincent in particular, would go on a hiatus and might come up missing for a day or so. Ann would just roll with the punches. Her main priority was raising her three boys, James, Darrell and Tommy, who was a rambunctious youngster prone to doing the darnest things. He wasn’t a bad youngster, just very mischievous. Also it was the times, after the Beatle invasion and all that followed. It was like tough love and she loved those boys dearly but felt relief when Tommy joined the service. He and his wife Beckie are now both retired from the Air Force where they met, married and raised their children. Ann did a great job with those boys, instilling her faith and kindness. Today, they are outstanding, responsible family men who passed on the same values to their own children.

Ann was always special to me. I loved her dearly. She thought I was special also. Almost to the point of embarrassment when she described me to a stranger. That was Miss Ann, she made everyone feel special. Her shop and home had been destroyed by Hurricane Ike. That was a worry to her but she felt the pain for all the people in her town that had lost everything. She shared the sadness.

Just a few weeks ago, she fell and injured herself. At first it wasn’t believed to be as serious as it was. Last week, when her condition started deteriorating, she was transferred to Methodist Hospital in Houston. She passed away Feb. 22 at age 82 on George Washington’s birthday. Funeral services will be Ash Wednesday at First Baptist Church in Bridge City.

Over a lifetime, I had watched this gorgeous princess I had met in my youth grow into a queen. She had been honored many times by different organizations and publications for her dedication to all that was good. The queen is dead but her family and everyone who ever was honored to know this wonderful lady will not soon forget her.

She always accused me of being a ‘crazy thing’ and she’d say that now I’m making too much of a fuss over her. She would love it thought. That was our Ann. There is no doubt she’s where she prepared all her life to go. She’ll look down on all of us with that caring smile, blow us a kiss and wait ‘to give us that hug.’ God promoted another angel but like tough love, we’ll really miss her because we thought she would be here always. May she rest in peace.