Local Native Annie Gilley-Strong Made History

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BY MWEZI DAKE write4living@yahoo.com

Annie Gilley-Strong is a by all description a humble, in the background kind of person but her accomplishments are among history makers, movers and shakers.

Annie was raised in Bradenton and graduated from Lincoln Memorial High School in 1962 followed by Annie attending Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Tuskegee, Alabama. Annie earned a Bachelor’s in Nursing in 1966. Annie then moved to Columbia, South Carolina. Annie stated, “I was young, energetic and one of the staff at the State Mental Hospital where I was working saw those qualities in me and offered me a position as Nursing Instructor at the University of South Carolina. I was the first Black Instructor at the University. Being an Instructor gave me incredible opportunities; I didn’t realize the significance of being the first woman of Color to be teaching. I loved my work.” Annie’s husband is from Palmetto and went into the military after high school graduation and the two of them moved to Missouri in 1969. Annie said their house was across the street from St. Paul’s Hospital and she was able to walk across the street to work. Annie added, “I walked to the hospital to get a job, I didn’t think teaching was really my cup of tea so I was looking forward to being a staff nurse. They looked at my credentials and I ended up teaching in a three year A.D. Nursing Program. I said, Self, you are not going to teach, and the next thing I know, I’m teaching for the next nine years.”

Annie had many more years of leading, mentoring, teaching and caring for so many in her career. Annie went to the VA as Nurse Educational Leader and retired after a thirty-three year career as a Nurse. As Annie put it, “Intertwined in all of my life, I went into the Army from 1984-2004, twenty years. It was in the Reserves, every year, two weeks active duty. My brother is a Two Star General, all of us siblings were achievers. Our mother died when I was nine and our father died when I was thirteen. We all went to college. Our Aunt took care of us, encouraged us.” Annie said that at seventy-one years of age now she is enjoying retirement and her life but that she enjoyed the life, career and friends she had and has. Annie’s accomplishments are many, her life a guiding star and a history maker. We salute you!

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