Ann Besenbruch was born on March 14, 1924, in Jackson, Ohio. Part of her childhood was spent in the idyllic village of Northfield, Conn., where her father was the minister while earning a Ph.D. at Yale. Their move to South Dakota was a shock to her, the state then suffering from grasshopper plagues, dust storms and fierce blizzards in winter, although the friendliness of the people made up for much. After she graduated from high school, her father insisted that she apply to the University of Chicago.
She majored in German and was working on her master’s dissertation, when she was offered a job as a translator for the Nuremberg Tribunal for War Crimes. Much of her work consisted of translating the files of German government and SS agencies, which provided much of the evidence for the prosecution. Through a discussion group at the University of Erlangen she met her future husband Max. At her recommendation he also was employed as a translator. When the trials ended, Ann obtained a job as report writer for the US Army European Command Intelligence Center.
Once Max earned his Ph.D., Ann and he decided to marry and return to the USA. They had two children, Helen and Peter. She settled into the life of the wife of a rising executive.
Ever since joining the choir of the University of Chicago, which performed major concerts with the Chicago Symphony, she found great joy in choral singing. In White Plains she discovered the Episcopal Church, always loving its liturgy and finding a musical home in church choirs in the United States and Europe.
In 1992 she followed her husband’s sailboat to Hawaii by plane and joined St. Andrew’s choir under John McCreary, whom she admired. Always a voracious reader, she wrote book reviews for the cathedral newsletter and taught church history, presenting an unvarnished church of sinners and saints to classes of appreciative seekers.
She died on November 2, 2011, and is survived by her husband, two children and two grandchildren.
The funeral service is at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 26, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral. Visitation begins at 9:30 a.m.. A reception will follow at the Waikiki Yacht Club.
In lieu of flowers, contributions to the St. Andrew’s Cathedral Music Fund would be welcome.