February 8, 1929 - March 27, 2022
Born February 8, 1929, to Lewis and Mary Merrell at home in Lincoln County, Tennessee, she enjoyed the rich and full life of a farm girl during the war years of the late 1930s and 1940s. Annis, age 93, was so many things during her lifetime: caring and dedicated Mom to her children and grandchildren, woman of faith, secretary; later in life she became a college student, teacher, artist, singer/musician, genealogist, lover of life, and of all things beautiful. Upon High School graduation, she entered the Andrew Jackson School of Business in Nashville, Tennessee, where she had a lot of new experiences as she worked for families to help pay for her education. After secretarial school, she moved to Huntsville, Alabama to work at Redstone Arsenal where exciting things were happening, soon resulting in giant rockets that would eventually carry people to the moon. One of the events she liked to relate to others was her excitement in meeting Werner Von Braun, an instrumental figure in the space program. Marrying E.H. Godwin in 1949, she soon became the mother of Jane Anne in 1955, and David Emory in 1962. The family’s decision to move to Key West, Florida in 1960 would become a major change that would take her life in a totally different direction than the one she had known on the farm. The move to Key West took place right before hurricane Donna hit the Florida Keys in September, 1960. She would frequently tell the story that the family were welcomed on the island by their Conch neighbors who gave advice on how to weather the storm: “fill up the bathtub with water, and open the shutters on the opposite side of the wind when the Eye passes thru and you will be fine”—and they were! Many more hurricanes would be experienced by the family over the next 30-plus years spent on the island. She actually enjoyed keeping track of those hurricanes on her paper charts, using coordinates written down from radio broadcasts. It has been said she could predict a hurricane as well as any weatherman! The 1960s were an idyllic time on the island—she enjoyed raising her children, taking art classes so she could paint the gorgeous island scenery, attending church at Old Stone Methodist Church, working as a legal secretary for various lawyers around town, and exploring all the Florida Keys had to offer. A particular favorite weekend destination was Bahia Honda State Park, where many picnics were enjoyed under the shadow of the historic bridge, sometimes even on the afternoon of Christmas Day! By the late 1960s, with new Junior College programs starting up around the state, Florida Keys Jr College (now the College of the Florida Keys) opened in 1965 and Annis was soon enjoying taking courses and working her way to becoming a teacher. She graduated in 1970 as one of the first classes to graduate there. Following this, she continued her education at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, showing her commitment to her education by making the long drive from Key West to Boca on a regular basis! Soon she received her B.A. in Elementary Education, which was one of her proudest moments! After graduation, she spent many years substitute teaching at various schools on the island—her son David likes to tell of the day he had “mom” as his science teacher! During the 1980s she decided to return to secretarial work and enjoyed working for the State of Florida, first with the Department of Insurance, and then with the Department of Corrections in the probation/parole division. She really enjoyed her work and created many lifelong friendships with her coworkers. Particular fun times were the Halloween parties held in the office which provided a bird’s eye view of Duval Street, where the Fantasy Fest parade was going by. Annis also rekindled her love of music during this time and joined the choir at Ley Memorial UMC, her new church home. Along with her good friend Jack Armstrong, Key West’s “All American Boy” and Mary Gibb, they formed the JAM trio which brought many hours of musical pleasure. During this time she was also a frequent performer in Key West’s choral group which performed Handel’s Messiah at the Old Stone UMC every year at Christmas time. She would often be joined by her granddaughter Vanessa for these exciting events. In the early 1990s she decided it was time to sell the family home, move to Sarasota with her daughter Jane Anne, and take time to develop new interests. Joining the Daughters of the American Revolution, she immersed herself in a new passion for genealogy and held various offices in the Allapattah Chapter, from Registrar to Regent. Moving a little north to Palm Harbor in 2004, she loved being right around the corner from her younger grandchildren, helping them participate in their own activities and music lessons, frequenting Disney World, and accompanying them on extended summer vacations to scenic points all around the country. Attending church at Curlew UMC brought many happy times as she continued her choir participation. 2016 brought a move just a bit south to Safety Harbor where she would join her current church Sylvan Abbey UMC and would continue her musical interests in the choir. In her 93 years on the planet, Annis touched many lives and had many joys. Traveling with her family was always so much fun and she particularly enjoyed cruising to many different destinations. She will be missed in her physical presence, but will remain with her Love in all our hearts. Annis is survived by her children: Daughter Jane Anne Myers (John Levitsky) of Safety Harbor, and Son David Emory Godwin of Palm Harbor, Brother Elden Merrell of Ardmore, Tennessee, Grandchildren Vanessa Hall (Shane Irby) of Dade City, Andrew Godwin of Washington, DC, Ashley Godwin of Tampa, and many nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her parents: Lewis and Mary Merrell, brothers Terrell Merrell, Robert Merrell, Jimmy Merrell, sister Rhonda Patterson, and daughter-in-law Joan Godwin. Services to be held at Sylvan Abbey UMC, 2817 Sunset Pt Rd, Clearwater, FL 33759. Visitation with family and viewing will be Saturday, April 2nd at 2pm, followed by funeral at 3pm, and a reception catered by The Stuffed Mushroom (at Annis’s specific request!) at 4pm. Interment will be Monday, April 4 at 11am, at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens. The family would like to thank Suncoast Hospice and Visiting Angels Palm Harbor for their caring and dedication during her final months. In place of flowers, the family asks that donation be made to Sylvan Abbey UMC.
Born February 8, 1929, to Lewis and Mary Merrell at home in Lincoln County, Tennessee, she enjoyed the rich and full life of a farm girl during the war years of the late 1930s and 1940s. Annis, age 93, was so many things during her lifetime:... View Obituary & Service Information
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