Anna is the daughter of Allen Eastlack and Charlotte (Cunningham) Eastlack and was raised in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. During summer vacations, Anna stayed in Humboldt, Iowa with her grandparents Anna and John Cunningham, a mayor of Humboldt and a member of the Iowa state legislature. Anna loved spending her summers with many aunts, uncles, and cousins in the Cunningham’s large house with a wraparound porch. Anna’s high school years overlapped with WWII. In spite of rationing, Anna still made a point to prioritize attending Oshkosh High School’s games, even as far away as Green Bay. Anna graduated high school as Salutatorian in 1944 at the age of 16; she gave the commencement speech in place of the valedictorian who had been drafted.
Anna was a proud “co-ed” attendee of University of Wisconsin - Madison and was initiated into the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority. She maintained her sorority membership throughout her life. Anna was in the first graduating class of a new major: Occupational Therapy, which was created in response to the need for wounded veterans returning from WWII to develop meaningful and creative activities or occupations within their communities.
After graduating, Anna was working as an OT in City Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana, when her mother arranged a blind date with a handsome vet who captured her heart: Gene Verbrugge, who had been a B-29 bomber pilot in WWII. Gene and Anna’s mothers had met at the Humboldt Congregational Church and realized that Anna and Gene were both single and living in Indianapolis. Gene proposed to Anna while they were flying in his plane over Dayton, Ohio where Anna had been born. They were married on May 30, 1954 at Humboldt Congregational Church. Anna and Gene spent their honeymoon driving out to California where Gene had been hired as a Flight Test Engineer, testing new Allison jet engines at Edwards Air Force Base. Gene taught Anna how to drive on their trip to California and they stayed married even though she wrecked the car on that trip.
The couple lived in Lancaster, California where Anna enjoyed playing bridge and socializing with the wives of other flight test personnel. She became good friends with many, such as Janet Armstrong (wife of Neil). Gene and Anna had three children, John, Janet, and Mark while living in Lancaster. After several moves, in 1960 they ended up in San Jose, California, just in time to welcome their fourth child, Elizabeth (Betsy). Anna was always proud to have organized her children to have the “perfect family”: boy, girl, boy, girl. She loved being a mom and later, a grandmother. Anna always said the most important thing she did in life was to raise her children to have strong educations and to be good people. The four of us think she did a terrific job! In addition to staying busy raising her four children, Anna was a prolific reader of everything, did crossword puzzles in (purple) ink, and completed gorgeous needlework. Anna was a member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the League of Women’s Voters; she worked on local political issues, such as water fluoridation and the election of San Jose’s Mayor Janet Gray Hayes. She volunteered countless hours at Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) swimming events and the local elementary school library. She loved camping, especially in Yosemite where she once pulled over to find a quiet place to nurse baby John and happened upon Ansel Adams photographing.
When her four children went off to college, Anna went back to work. Initially she worked as a medical office assistant and then for twelve years she was a kindergarten teacher aide, where she was able to apply her Occupational Therapy skills. Whenever Anna left the house, whether to shop for groceries or “just the right present”, her shoes and purse always matched, and she always had her earrings on. On one of her last ambulance trips to the hospital, she refused to be carted away saying “I can’t go to the doctor without my earrings on!” Anna was a treasure! She was brilliant, positive, and enjoyed life to the end.
Anna is survived by her sister, Ruth Ellen Eastlack, who always lived close to Anna and is a wonderful aunt and great-aunt to Anna’s children and grandchildren.
Anna and Gene were married 62 years and have 4 children, 10 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren:
● John Verbrugge (Denise) – Grandsons: Matthew, Andrew (Ashley), and Steven (Amanda). Great-grandchildren: Weston (Mathew), Avery (Andrew), and Maren and Bria (Steven).
● Janet Verbrugge-Gee (Norm) – Grandsons: Jonathon and Christopher
● Mark Verbrugge (Kathy) – Grandchildren: Alena and Austen
● Betsy Mielke (Jim) – Grandchildren: Kate, Luke, and Sam
Graveside services for she and her husband will be at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, September 30th at Union Cemetery in Humboldt. The Mason-Lindhart Funeral & Cremation Service of Humboldt is in charge of the arrangements.