Ann Bartlett, former Oklahoma first lady and widow of late Oklahoma U.S. senator and governor Dewey Bartlett, died Saturday night.
She was 92.
"My family just lost the best mother we could have ever hoped to have," said her son, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett, in a statement issued by the city. “She was a woman of incredible grace. Our family was with her when she passed from this life, and she was at peace."
A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Christ the King Catholic Church. Fitzgerald Ivy Funeral Service is handling arrangements.
Born and raised in Seattle, the former Ann C. Smith met her future husband while visiting her grandmother in southern California, where Bartlett, an Ohio native, was training as a Marine Corps dive bomber pilot.
The pair exchanged letters almost daily while he served in World War II, and married on April 2, 1945, in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
Soon after, they moved to Tulsa, where Bartlett joined his brother, Dave Bartlett, at Keener Oil Co., which their late father had founded.
As her husband segued from oilman to farmer-rancher and then into politics, Ann Bartlett was happy being homemaker and mother.
But she did play a supportive, advisory role in his career, and campaigned at his side.
Campaigning was “very hard work,” she told the Tulsa World in 1980. “But it was fun and exciting. I was doing it for someone I really believed in.”
Campaign insiders, in a 1967 Oklahoman article, described her as the “sense of humor” for the couple, noting that she helped keep her husband humble and grounded.
After representing Tulsa County in the state Senate, Dewey Bartlett served as Oklahoma’s 19th governor, from 1967 to 1971, becoming only the second Republican to hold the post.
He was elected to the U.S. Senate for a six-year term in 1972. Outspoken as a senator, he became known for championing unfettered market prices for oil and gas and focusing on energy as a member of the Senate Energy Committee.
He died of cancer March 1, 1979, shortly after leaving the U.S. Senate.
As Oklahoma’s first lady, Ann Bartlett kept an active schedule, touring schools and day care centers, promoting the arts, and running the Governor’s Mansion.
In 1970, she chaired the state’s National Library Week Committee, promoting the growth and use of libraries.
Later, in Washington, she would find her schedule as a senator’s wife light by comparison.
Enjoying more freedom and time with family, she said one of the unfortunate aspects of that era’s women’s liberation movement was that it painted homemaking as “a dreary job.”
“Personally, I’ve enjoyed homemaking so much because I have a husband who enjoys home so much,” she said.
After her husband’s death, Ann Bartlett continued her interest in politics, supporting various campaigns.
As the Oklahoma chairwoman for the presidential campaign of Sen. Howard Baker, she added a “flair and sparkle that the Oklahoma Republican party sorely needs,” wrote former Tulsa World writer Malvina Stephenson.
Bartlett later led a Seniors for Reagan campaign group.
In Tulsa, she was active with a number of civic groups and nonprofits, among them the League of Women Voters, Family and Children’s Services, St. John Hospital Auxiliary, and Christ the King Catholic Church, where she was a longtime member.
In 1989, she was honored with an award from the Center for Social Concern of Christ the King Parish for her work with Neighbor for Neighbor, and for helping to set up the Oklahoma Diocesan Mission in Guatemala.
Ann Bartlett would also marry again — to John Garrett Burke, a professor and historian.
Ann Bartlett, who had attended Seattle University and the University of Washington before marrying Bartlett, also enjoyed taking literature courses at the University of Tulsa.
She was preceded in death by her first husband, Dewey Bartlett Sr., and second husband, John Burke.
Her survivors include three children, Dewey F. Bartlett Jr., Joan C. Atkinson and Michael H. Bartlett.