Significant Gift Received from Ann O’Bar Trust

Ann O'BarWe are thrilled to share that we have received a most generous donation from the Angelina Merenda (Ann) O’Bar Trust and are the grateful beneficiaries of her wonderful legacy of giving.

We were contacted by her friend and a co-trustee of the Ann O’Bar Trust, Melanie Mitchell, about a potential gift to support our program that focuses on understanding classmates with differences. Melanie shared that Ann loved her great-nephew Michael who had disabilities and was aware of his parents’ fears about how he would be treated by other children. A disability awareness program that focuses on inclusion and kindness would have helped allay his parents’ concerns, making Understanding Our Differences a truly meaningful fit with the life and priorities of Ann O’Bar.

Angelina Marie Merenda (Ann) O’Bar was born on March 1, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York. Ann met and married Jesse R. O’Bar, Jr. on October 27, 1956 and followed him to his hometown of Chickasha, Oklahoma, where they built a life filled with family, friends, and deep involvement with their community.

An outstanding early childhood professional, Ann worked for over 45 years in the educational field. Her first teaching position was in 1967 working with kindergarten Head Start children in Chickasha Public Schools. She continued her work with Head Start for over 20 years, teaching, training, becoming Director of Washita Valley Head Start, President of the Oklahoma Head Start Association and a longtime member of the National Head Start Association Board in Washington, DC.

Following her work with Head Start, beginning in 1987, Ann then served as project director/associate director at the University of Oklahoma’ s Center for Child and Family Development and was named director emeritus for the center. Here she developed the Growing Up Strong program for classroom use with young children. She also served as a member of the Oklahoma Department of Human Service’s Child Care Advisory Committee for over 30 years to improve services to young children and their families.

Throughout her career Ann was an exemplary consultant and advocate for early childhood education at local, state, national, and international levels. She established the Merenda-O’Bar Scholarship for students who wanted to be teachers of young children. She was honored with the Outstanding Service Award and was a long time, active, and honored member of Delta Kappa Gamma.

She passed peacefully on February 22, 2020 while living at Legends Memory Care in South Oklahoma City.

We deeply appreciate the Ann O’Barr Trust’s most generous donation supporting our program that fosters respect and inclusion for people of all abilities, and this unique opportunity to continue her legacy of dedication to education of young children.