Loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, devoted wife, and worldwide traveler, Annajean “AJ” Hildenbrandt, 94, longtime resident of Medford, Oregon, passed away on 9 September 2020. AJ was a caring and loving woman who will be missed by her family, relatives and friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert F. Hildenbrandt, who passed away in October 2010. They were married 61 years and AJ believed with all her heart it was a marriage made in heaven. While independent as a child, and an early adventurer, she most of all wanted to be a wife and mother. She is survived by her three children: Linda (Steve) Kahn, Barbara (Dale) Peters, and Stephen (Olivia) Hildenbrandt; nine grandchildren and seventeen great-great grandchildren.
Born in Holyoke, Colorado, her early childhood was spent growing up on farms in Colorado and Nebraska. An only child during the deepest part of the Great Depression, she had a persevering attitude, understood the need for hard work and diligence, and the value of cousins and uncles. AJ was active in 4-H and the local Civil Air Patrol. She flew her own airplane before she owned a car. She graduated from Chase County High School in Imperial, Nebraska, in 1944 and then attended Greeley State Teachers College in Greeley, Colorado. She worked in the local Bell Telephone office and as a waitress in high-school. For two years, AJ taught elementary school in Chase County, Nebraska, and later was a bookkeeper for a number of different companies. After she married Robert in 1949, she continued working as a bookkeeper for the Veterans Housing in Modoc County, California, before managing the Hildenbrandt Portrait and Commercial Studio and Camera Shop in Alturas, California. At various times, she was a contributor for the Modoc County Record in Alturas.
In 1960, AJ, Robert, and their children moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia due to Roberts new position with the State Department (USAID). While there, she taught English to Cambodian nationals preparing to attend college and universities in the United States. Following her husband’s tour in Cambodia, her family moved to Saigon, Viet-Nam. When the environment became too volatile for dependents, she and the children returned to the United States (Alturas, CA and Medford, OR). A year later she and the children moved to Bangkok, Thailand, where Robert could visit every few weeks while he remained in Viet-Nam. From there the entire family moved to Amman, Jordan, where AJ continued teaching English as a second language, charitable work, and teaching 1st and 2nd grades at the American Community School in Amman.
Following the tour in Amman, the family moved to Medford, Oregon, until 1974 when AJ and Robert moved to Vienna, Virginia. While in the D.C. metropolitan area, AJ was certified by the Institute for Genealogical Research and spent an uncountable number of hours doing genealogical research on the Mead and Hildenbrandt family history and entertaining friends, relatives, and many guests from their world travels.
When Robert retired in 1987, they moved to Talent, Oregon, and built a beautiful home, R’View Ranch, on a hillside overlooking the Rogue Valley. AJ continued as a genealogical researcher, helping others research their family histories and entertaining a continuous stream of dear friends, relatives, and the occasional refugee from political strife. In 1999, they moved from R’View Ranch into a quiet but comfortable subdivision in Medford where AJ resided with Robert until he passed away in 2010.
Throughout the years and travels AJ enjoyed camping, hiking, exploring, and the occasional backpacking trip down the Rogue River Trail. She explored the Lava Beds National Monument extensively. She traveled for over two months with her family throughout much of Europe in a VW camper. Later, as an empty nester she and Robert spent weeks camping at State and National Parks in their RV. But she wasn’t just interested in the “outdoor life.” AJ also loved to dress up and go dancing with Robert. Cha-cha, Samba, Fox-Trot and Waltz music was often heard from the living room hi-fi and AJ was pretty insistent that Robert take lessons with her.
After Robert passed away in 2010, AJ transitioned to the Avamere Assisted Living facility in Medford. She enjoyed countryside drives to look at seasonal color changes, frequent group games, and marathon puzzle sessions … but especially card games. You played cards with her at your own risk. Never one to turn down coconut crusted prawns, or vanilla or huckleberry ice-cream she enjoyed dining out with family or eating anything cooked by Linda, or Barb and Dale. Her favorite activities at Avamere were the presentations by the “Bug Guy,” the Old-Time Fiddlers and the Polynesian Dancers. She made some special friends who meant very much to her — especially those who knew how to laugh.
She had many friends over the years on which she left a lasting and positive reflection of her life. If AJ could leave us with one parting thought it would be to tell us to remember the “Golden Rule” and to always “Walk a mile in their shoes” before drawing any conclusions.