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Profile / Bio of Ann Romney, Wife of Mitt Romney

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Profile / Bio of Ann Romney, Wife of Mitt Romney
© Win McNamee/Getty Images
Name:
Ann Lois Davies Romney

Position:
Wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
First Lady of Massachusetts, 2003-2007

Born:
April 16, 1949

Education:

High School
Kingswood School, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Graduated 1967

Undergraduate School

Brigham Young University 1967-1970
Harvard University Extension School, B.A. in French
Graduated 1975

Family Background:

Ann's grandfather, David Davies, was a coal miner from the Welsh village of Nantyffyllon who lost a kidney after being crushed by a coal cart. In search of a better life, he emigrated to Detroit, Michigan and found work at a Ford factory, earning enough to bring over his wife, daughter, and three sons. One of those sons was 15-year-old Edward Roderick “Rod” Davies who would become Ann's father.

The only child the family could afford to send to college, Edward graduated from General Motors Institute of Technology, in Flint, Michigan, in 1938. After serving in the naval engineering corps in World War II, he founded Jered Industries in 1946 which served the automotive and aerospace industries as well as the military.

On August 15, 1947 he married Lois Pottinger in Wayne, Michigan.

Childhood & High School:

One of three children born to Lois and Edward, Ann enjoyed a life of privilege as the couple's only daughter. Ann was in second grade and Mitt was in fourth grade when he first noticed her, but their relationship did not develop until after she attended the Kingswood School in Bloomfield Hills, MI while Mitt was at nearby Cranbrook School. Ann was 15 years old and a sophomore and Mitt was 18, a senior and son of the governor of Michigan when they met at a party. On their first date they saw The Sound of Music. When Ann turned 16, he informally proposed to her at his senior prom and she accepted.

Religious Background:

Raised Episcopalian, Ann became interested in the Mormon faith once she began dating Mitt. When he left the U.S. for his 2 1/2 year Mormon mission to France, Ann maintained close ties to his family, especially his father George. With George's encouragement, Ann decided to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at age 17 and asked her future father-in-law to baptize her as a Mormon. Ann has subsequently stated that her conversion was not influenced by Mitt and that her own spiritual quest had led her to the decision.

College:

During her years apart from Mitt, Ann attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, which is owned and operated by the LDS Church and is the nation's largest religious university. There she became active in campus life including student government and also volunteered in an academic affairs office.

Many male students pursued her and she casually dated. When things threatened to become serious with Kim Cameron, a star basketball player and vice president of the student government, Ann wrote to Mitt in the fall of 1968 to let him know that she was seeing someone else.

Worried that the relationship might end, Mitt flew home for the Christmas holidays that year and reiterated his feelings for Ann, asking if she would marry him immediately. Due to his mother's reluctance, the couple waited three months before they married.

Marriage and Family:

Against the wishes of her parents, she married Mitt on March 21, 1969. Ann was 19 years old at the time of the wedding and still attending BYU, where Mitt was now enrolled. In 1970, Ann gave birth to Taggart, the couple's first child and in 1971 after Mitt graduated, the Romneys moved to Belmont, Massachusetts so Mitt could attend graduate school at Harvard.

Over the next decade, Ann raised her family and gave birth to four more boys: Matthew (1971), Joshua (1975), Benjamin (1978) and Craig (1981). Although her undergraduate studies were interrupted by her marriage and birth of her first child, she finished her degree by taking night courses at Harvard University Extension school.

According to friends and family, Ann was resolute in her decision to have a large family and be a stay-at-home mother but felt disparaged for her choices. Despite the family's increasing wealth, Ann raised the boys and ran the household without any help until after her youngest was born. She also took up tennis and became a top amateur player in the country club circuit; did volunteer work for community organizations and the LDS Church; and even taught a French cooking class.

She briefly entered politics when she ran for town council representative in Belmont in 1977 at age 27 and won the seat.

After the family moved to a larger home in Belmont in 1989, Ann's parents moved in with them as both were battling cancer. She helped care for them as they received treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her father passed away in the summer of 1992 and her mother in June 1993.

Political Life, Health Concerns and Philanthropy:

Mitt's first run for public office was his 1994 bid for the Massachusetts Senate seat against Ted Kennedy. The experience left Ann with a negative view of politics. According to the New York Times, she "was portrayed as naïve and entitled, fretting about her weight and claiming she and Mr. Romney had never had a serious argument."

Ann herself had made plans for the future and wanted to return to school to earn a master's degree in art history; she envisioned a career outside the home in this next phase of her life. But in 1998 when Ann was 49 years old, a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis dashed those hopes and dreams. Debilitating fatigue kept her in bed all day and depression followed. Yet after the early moths of post-diagnosis despair, Ann rallied and sought out standard treatment along with alternative therapies such as reflexology, yoga, meditation and acupuncture which helped her regain her strength.

Another approach -- horse therapy -- introduced her to dressage which -- as ABC's Cynthia McFadden reported -- is an "extraordinarily difficult and expensive sport...described by some as ballet on horseback." At age 50 Ann took up dressage and found it to be a "magic pill" that helped her forget her pain and fatigue. She went on to tremendous success in the sport, earning medals in 2005 and 2006 from the United States Dressage Federation at the Grand Prix level.

When Mitt won the Massachusetts gubernatorial race in 2002 and entered office in 2003, Ann embraced the causes of preventing teen pregnancy and assisting underprivileged children. In 2005 she stepped in as an unpaid liaison to assist the state's charitable and faith-based organizations in applying for federal funding.

A partial list of the organizations she has bee involved with includes the New England Chapter of the MS Society; the United Way of MA Bay; Right To Play, formerly Olympic Aid, an international nonprofit organization that uses sport and play as a developmental tool for children in the most disadvantaged areas of the world; Partners for Youth with Disabilities; the American Red Cross; the Boston Ten Point Coalition; the Perkins School for the Blind; the Massachusetts Children's Trust Fund; Operation Kids; Best Friends, an organization that addresses the special needs of adolescent, inner-city girls; amd the Mother Caroline Academy, a multicultural middle school serving young girls from inner city Boston. She also formerly served on the Women's Cancer Advisory Board of MA General Hospital.

Sources:
"Ann D. Romney Biography." CitizensforRomney.org. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
Holland, Steve. "Ann Romney adds personal touch to Mitt's campaign." Reuters.com. 2 March 2012.
"Pottinger, Lois." Ancestry.com. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
Kyle, Bobbie L. "10 Things You Didn't Know About Ann Romney." USNews.com. 12 December 2007.
McFadden, Cynthia. "Ann Romney: From the Saddle to the Campaign Trail." ABCNews.go.com. 14 August 2008.
Parker, Ashley. "At Romney's side, a Determined Running Mate." NYTimes.com. 15 June 2012.
Sanchez, Raf and Jon Swaine. "US election 2012: Ann Romney's Welsh connection." Telegraph.co.uk. 6 January 2012.
Sherwell, Philip and Ben Leach. "US election: Ann Romney's relatives in Britain help Mitt play the Welsh card." Telegraph.co.uk. 8 January 2012.
Stritof, Sheri and Bob. "Ann and Mitt Romney Marriage Profile." Marriage.about.com. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
Swidey, Neil and Stephanie Ebbert. "Journeys of a shared life." Boston.com. 27 June 2007.
Williamson, David. "Could Welsh miner's granddaughter Ann Romney be next US First Lady?" Walesonline.co.uk. 30 May 2012.

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