When Jim Hughes, Campaign Life Coalition president, hired Ann Liptok 27 years ago as his secretary in the first small, cramped CLC office in downtown Toronto, he was puzzled. When he asked her why she didn’t get a job closer to her faraway suburban home in Mississauga, she quietly replied, “I want to work for this cause. It’s very dear to my heart.”
To follow the promptings of her heart, she would have to commute two hours each way, every weekday to get to the office taking two buses, the GO Train and the subway, through all kinds of weather. Occasionally, to reassure a worried Jim, she’d say, “Don’t worry, darlin’. The ride gives me lots of time to pray the Rosary for you and for the pro-life movement.”
A widow, Ann died Oct. 20 after a long illness, leaving three adult children and a grandson. At her funeral, Jim gave short talk citing her long commute and her excellent secretarial skills – well before the magical age of computers. Patiently, she would retype a whole page of copy for the slightest revision (she rarely made errors) and would stay late at the office to do so. In the 1980s, because Ann was so reliable and competent, Jim loaned her to Father Alphonse de Valk, then editor of The Interim, and then later to REAL Women of Canada, where her skills were highly valued.
Born with a hip disability that cause her to limp and which worsened with time, limiting her mobility (especially climbing the steep stairs at CLC), Ann worked from home in later years. Her long-time friend at CLC, Dolores Toth, reminisces how she and Ann laughed, smoked and ate lunch together for years and says that Ann had a marvellous sense of humour expressed in dry wit and facial expressions. Before coming to CLC, Ann had worked for a lawyer. She recalled, “He played golf and I ran the office.”
Fr. de Valk recalls, “She was a wonderful lady and a great secretary. You could dictate to her and she’d take it down in shorthand and type it up in no time. She was co-operative and had a good head on her shoulders. She also understood the issues and was a devout Catholic.”
When a friend visited Ann in her last days, she noticed that Ann had wound a Rosary, her favourite prayer, around her wrist as if to journey with her in her infirmity.
Surely, Ann now joins the legions of hidden pro-life saints in eternity.