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Mary Ann Geers, 95, peace activist who fed the homeless

She won people over with her sunny optimistic attitude.

Mary Ann Geers
Mary Ann GeersRead more

YOU MIGHT think that a woman who devoted much of her life to protesting the violence in the world would have a grim outlook on life.

Then you didn't know Mary Ann Geers. Whenever there was a demonstration against war and those who supplied the necessary armaments, she was there, possibly decked out in her signature hat.

But Mary Ann, called Annie by family and friends, was anything but grim. She had an irrepressibly cheerful attitude that carried over into all aspects of a life that was marked by service to others.

"Possessed of formidable inner strength, Annie was kind and sunny - 'a cock-eyed optimist,' in her own words - making friends everywhere she went," her family said.

Mary Ann Geers, who marched with peace organizations and co-founded a meals program to feed the hungry, an active churchwoman and devoted family matriarch, died March 23. She was 95 and had lived in the Media, Delaware County, area for 60 years.

Annie also was a longtime member of the Media Area Branch of the NAACP, which gave her a lifetime achievement award.

The meals program she co-founded continues as an operation of the Life Center of Delaware County, which both feeds and houses the homeless at 63rd and Market streets in Upper Darby.

Annie was also an active member of the Overbrook Presbyterian Church, serving on the Mission and Outreach Committee.

A lot of Annie's energy was directed at the longtime peace activities of the Brandywine Peace Community, whose members didn't hesitate to brave arrests on trespassing charges, such as when they staged repeated protests at the King of Prussia site of the Lockheed Martin Corp., the world's largest military contractor.

Demonstrators were never rowdy, because the organization promotes nonviolence, in the tradition of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

Among other demonstrations that Annie joined was the annual Hiroshima Day, held every Aug. 6 to mark the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, followed by the bombing of Nagasaki.

Hiroshima Day is a national observation marked by demonstrations and speech-making by peace groups, including the Brandywine Peace Community.

According to Annie, she was a descendant of William Bradford, who landed in what became Massachusetts in the Mayflower in 1620, and was the governor of Plymouth Colony.

Annie spent her early life in Springfield, Mass., as Mary Ann Tenney. She later graduated from New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill. She attended Beloit College in Beloit, Wisc.

Annie was formerly married to Gary Geers, longtime KYW-TV host and announcer, who died in 2010 at the age of 84.

She is survived by two daughters, Diane Savage and Laurel Geers; two sons, Gary and David Geers; four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Services: Memorial service 1 p.m April 18 at Overbrook Presbyterian Church, 6376 City Ave.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Overbrook Presbyterian Church Mission and Outreach Program, 6376 City Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19151.