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Mary O"Day Leidy
What an amazing, life, woman, friend and soul...thinking of you as you celebrate her life. I will keep her in thoughts and prayers.
Anne Rutledge Wold
Anne (Annie) Rutledge Wold (Graham) died peacefully in her home, on Amelia Island Plantation, October 24th at the age of 88. She was preceded in death by her husband, Anthony (Tony) Graham (d. December 28th, 2017) and her brother, George Rutledge Wold (d. June 11th,1993). She is survived by nephew Steven Wold (Wendy and sons Jordan and Trevor), great nephew John (Beth) Wold, and great niece Kelly (Wold) Laszlo (daughters Lillian and Rosemary).
Anne was one of those bigger-than-life people, the kind you will only meet once in a lifetime. While death may now prompt a celebration of her life, Anne celebrated life every day she could. To her, people were always worth celebrating. That’s probably why she focused her life in the incentive travel business, where people are rewarded for their efforts with journeys that some might call epic—that is, if they were lucky enough to be on one of Anne’s adventures.
Starting from the time her mother died when Anne was a teenager, Anne set her mind to succeeding and excelling at everything she did, like enrolling at the University of Wisconsin¬–Madison. Her can-do attitude, love of travel, and particularly Ireland, led her to some early accomplishments that would shape her destiny. She joined the Irish Tourist Board as an employee. She banded together with other savvy young entrepreneurial spirits and launched the first coin-operated laundry mats in Ireland. Recognizing that young busy professionals have little time for fun and meeting like-minded peers, she helped organize a social club (only those closest to her know the name) that would form life-long friendships and bonds that will never be broken, not even in death. It was the 1960’s, and it was then she realized a fact that wouldn’t be addressed directly by society until today—that the business world is dominated by men. That fact wouldn’t haunt her, it would only become fuel for her fire. She became determined to prove that the thought of a woman in business being any less capable than a man was nonsense. While her early days were spent in Chicago, she left for New York City to become a pioneer in the corporate incentive travel business, founding a woman-owned business in Manhattan in the 70's. Here, success was inevitable but proved rigorous. Corporate incentive travel is dominated by “corporate” and “corporate” is dominated by you-know-who. Perseverance was never lacking in Annie, she would suggest to countless CEOs and corporate decision makers that incentive travel would yield a high return on investment, if and only if, it was worth their sales force’s effort to earn it. It was likely three elements of Anne’s DNA that allowed her to not only succeed, but to excel in this time and place: 1) her charm, 2) her grit, 3) her creativity. Her charisma would usually get Annie in the door to at least make a pitch, where her feisty “never-say-never” personality would win over even the most skeptical prospects. And her unending creativity would end up making trips of a lifetime for anyone willing to put in the effort to receive the reward. So, her point was proven, over and over. Resulting in trusted, long-lasting relationships with many corporate leaders and also in traveling the earth in search of “Were haven’t we been?” and “What have we never done before?” It is true, Annie’s trips were always as remarkable as she was.
When it came to family and friends, Annie’s generosity was as epic as her travels, especially at Christmas. She had a knack for finding meaningful (albeit sometimes expensive) gifts, and a gift for wrapping them so elaborately that it was a shame to open them. But one of her most epic gifts didn’t need wrapping as it was veiled in the snowstorm of the century. It was 1967, and Annie was traveling to her brother George’s for a belated Christmas with his family. She was excited to share her gift to nephews George Jr. and Steven when she departed Chicago for the 60-mile drive in the Chevy Corvair she was so proud of owning. After many daunting hours and 23 inches of snow, white-knuckled Annie arrived at the family property, exhausted, but ready to reveal her gift, “Apache,” a Shetland pony, to the eager boys. To her dismay, he was tightly wrapped and held at bay in in the barn which had snow drifts as high as the walls. She had to patiently wait (not easy for her) another day and a half of digging for the boys to uncover their bounty, which included a saddle and a surrey. Humorously, no one ever was able to stay on Apache’s back, and neither of the boys ever were inspired to go into rodeo.
Along the travels in her personal journey, Anne met and married the love of her life, Anthony Kenneth Graham (Tony), a like-minded, gentle, kind—and in many ways the “Yang” for her “Yin”—Irishman in 1983. Tony’s expertise was in entertainment, and they would become a dynamic duo and double the pleasure of any trip they conceived, later primarily focusing on Ireland, until retiring in 2010. Splitting their time between Ireland and Florida, they would be adored as a couple, as friends and close family—inseparable and focusing their attention on their own lives—until Tony’s untimely death in 2017.
Although there are many, a couple of Anne’s career highlights include being the very first President of SITE, the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence, in 1973, and being the recipient of countless awards. But her real achievements were personal—as a business leader, advocate for women in business, boss, mentor, and friend to thousands of people—from all over the world to many she introduced to Amelia Island. She had the quickest of wits and the most steadfast of ethics. And she always had enough stories to fill an endless night. While she will be missed by many, she will finally reunite with her beloved Tony in the presence of the Lord. God bless you, Anne.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated 1:00 PM, Friday, November 10, 2023 at St. Michael Catholic Church, 202 N. 4th Street, Fernandina Beach Florida.
She will be laid to rest with her family at Evergreen Cemetery in Barrington, Illinois at a later date.