Ocean Beach 04

Jo Ann Kruelle

June 15, 1952 ~ November 14, 2021 (age 69)


Jo Ann Kruelle passed away peacefully on November 14, 2021, with her sister by her side.  She was 69 years old.

Ann was born on Father’s Day to Roy and Jo Ann Gentile at Fort Breckenridge in Lexington, Kentucky where her father was posted as a career officer in the Army.  His assignments included being stationed in Puerto Rico and the Panama Canal Zone which Ann, as a child, found magical and instilled in her a life-long love of tropical places, butterflies, reptiles, unusual animals (including sloths and kudamundi), and, of course, parrots.  These were the ‘everyday’ fauna she discovered in her back yard.  Nature and natural wonders fascinated her.

By contrast Ann also loved exploring a world of fantasy and imaginary things. Growing up she would create settings that made her sisters believe they were watching Knights on Chargers battling villains with the help of fairies and magic dust.  So, when Ann first visited Walt Disney World, fifty years ago, she found a kindred spirit in the Disney Imagineers and the world they created.  To quote Brer Rabbit, “Everybody’s got a Laughin’ Place,” and Ann’s was Disney World.  She went there every year, usually multiple times a year, leaving her cares behind and entering the world of imagination.

But Ann probably never imagined the career path she eventually followed.  Enrolling as an anthropology major at the University of Maryland, she changed direction and graduated with a Master’s degree in Industrial Arts Education.  She taught at the Crofton Middle School for many years before transferring to the Ruth Eason School for children with disabilities (ages 3-21) in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, where she completed most of her 35-year teaching career.  She always described herself as a ‘regular’ educator who loved creating teaching modules to excite all students: wood working and line production, photography, silk screening, rockets & flight, and hydroponics.  She believed that her students just needed a pathway to overcome their special needs to be successful – a philosophy that helped her enjoy life, despite her deteriorating health, with trips for family gatherings, weekends at the beach house, visits to the Smithsonian’s renovated David H. Koch Hall of Fossils – Deep Time (i.e., Dinosaurs), attending movies, shows and concerts.  She never stopped ‘imagining’ tomorrow.

She is survived by her sisters, a niece, cousins, a cat, and her beloved menagerie of birds.

She was preceded in death by her parents and a host of pets of varying species: Lisa, Tweety, Chester, Jay, Charlie, Snigglefritz, Mod, George, Agamemnon, Stuart, Modine Gunch, Sargent & Pepper, Taco, Simon, Judge, Mikey, Bernie, Igor, Penney, Zeus, Tweety II, Riker, Peep, Car Salesman, Woogie, MoTown, and Zelda.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, December 8th at 1:00 p.m. in the chapel located at the Donaldson Funeral Home, 313 Talbott Ave., Laurel, MD 20707.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution to “Faithful Friends,” a no-kill animal shelter for pets in Salisbury, North Carolina, that our family has supported for many years.  Memorials would be made to Friends of Rowan, P.O. Box 262, Salisbury, NC 28145-0262, and in the memo line on the check please write “Faithful Friends”; this way your donation is matched by another donor.  (https://www.faithfulfriendsnc.org/).


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