GWINN - About once a month, Ann Queen makes the rounds, stopping at the post office, her bank, the Forsyth Senior Center, her doctor's office.
But she's not just doing errands: Ann Queen is bringing smiles to the workers at all those places, smiles in the form of candy treats she concocts in her kitchen.
The 90-year-old said she has good reason to deliver the treats.
Ann Morrissey (now Queen) and her younger brother James Morrissey both served in the military during World War Ii. Ann was an Army nurse who served in the European Theater while James was in the Navy and was stationed at Pearl Harbor for a time.
Ann Queen keeps busy in the kitchen making treats she then delivers to various spots in Gwinn. She said she enjoys making the goodies, which she distributes about once a month. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
"The recipe makes so many," she said. "There's no way I can eat them all myself."
Plus, she believes she's returning kindness for kindness.
"I traveled quite a bit after my husband died," Queen said. "I always kept my post office box and the people there always take such good care of me. So I wanted to take treats to them. Then the ladies at the bank are really nice.
"And the township office, and the doctor's office. I guess you could say anybody who's good to me gets them."
The treats she makes were something she first sampled a few years back at a Christmas toy distribution with St. Vincent de Paul.
"Somebody brought these and I found out how to make them," she said. While she doesn't have a name for them, the treats feature pretzels and chocolate stars or Rolos topped with either an M&M or a pecan.
"I can get 60 on a cookie sheet so I can make quite a few at a time," Queen said. "When I bring them to the senior center, one lady said they go like hotcakes."
Which is much to the delight of Julie Shaw, the senior center's director.
"Ann has no idea how much her act of kindness brightens the day for so many people," Shaw said.
Queen deflected that praise, however.
"Two trays, that's 120 treats," she said. "I tell 'em they look better on them than on me."
While she's shopping, Queen is preparing for her next treat-making session.
"The Easter M&Ms are the prettiest," she said. "I buy the Christmas ones when they are on sale and separate the red ones to use for Valentine's Day and the green ones for St. Patrick's Day."
Queen has been part of the Gwinn community full time since she retired in 1978. Her connection to the area came about in quite an interesting way.
She was born Ann Morrissey in what she called "a little railroad town" in northeast Iowa.
"The night I graduated from high school, I got on the 9 o'clock train to go to Chicago to visit relatives. I never went back."
Enrolling in St. Mary Nazareth Hospital in the Windy City, she began training to be a nurse.
"I both lived and worked there. We'd go to classes for three months then it was half classes, half work at the hospital," Queen said. "In three years I graduated."
World War II was just beginning.
"My mom was always trying to get me home to Iowa. She always was saying she had a job for me," Queen said. "One day, I was walking down the street in Chicago and went past an Army recruiting office. I had taken the state boards but didn't know if I had passed. The recruiter said 'don't worry about the state boards, just sign here.'
"And I was in the Army."
That was the fall of 1942, when she was 21 years old. She was assigned to some places in Illinois at first, then in February 1944, received orders to go overseas.
England, Belgium, France and Germany were the countries in which she served, staying in Germany for a few months after the war's end.
"Then Uncle Sam sent me to Cleveland first, then to Percy Jones General Hospital in Battle Creek," she said.
It was there she met a wounded soldier named Paul Queen.
"He would follow me around in his wheelchair," she said. "He was from Chillicothe, Ohio."
The two married in 1947 and settled in Battle Creek.
"We were at a New Year's Eve party and met some people from Negaunee who told us about some property for sale on Big Shag Lake (near Gwinn)," she said. "The next summer, we came up here and bought it."
From the ground up, the couple constructed Queen's Cottages, a resort on the lake. While Ann continued to work at Sears in Battle Creek, Paul would run the resort during warm weather months, returning home after deer season.
"We did that for 20 years," Ann said. "We sold the cottages in 1977 and built a new house for ourselves on Big Shag Lake, then I retired in February 1978 and we moved in. That was it."
She now lives in an apartment along M-35 with her kitchen getting a monthly workout.
"It's fun to do," she said of making the treats. "And it has got to be easy if I can do it."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.