Longtime Annie#039;s Restaurant owner loses battle with cancer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A beloved and longtime resident of Luverne, Laura Ann Finlayson, 67, passed away last Sunday after a long battle with cancer.

Finlayson, or better known as &#8220Miss Annie” to so many of her customers and employees, owned and operated Annie's Restaurant and Kate's Kountry in Luverne.

Annie's Restaurant had recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.

&#8220I've known Mrs. Ann since I moved here 18 years ago,” Luverne resident Kathy Smyth said. &#8220She was one of the few female entrepreneurs in this area.”

Smyth said that Finlayson was an extremely active member in her church, the Luverne United Methodist Church.

&#8220She was one of those true Christian examplesŠ..someone you could look up to,” Smyth said.

Smyth added that Finlayson was very active in the Crenshaw County Relay For Life, not only as a sponsor, but also as part of a team and as an individual participant.

&#8220She always participated in the ‘Survivors' Walk,'” Smyth said.

Hilda Maddox said that Finlayson moved to Luverne in Jan. of 1970.

&#8220We played bridge together for over 35 years,” Maddox said. &#8220She was such a vital part of the communityŠ..a true community philanthropist.”

Maddox remembered that Finlayson had just played bridge with the group three weeks ago.

&#8220Ann was such a fighter,” Maddox said. &#8220She had been a cancer survivor for several years.”

Roma Edwards, another close friend of Finlayson's, said that &#8220her loss was very, very difficult.”

Edwards also played bridge with Maddox and Finlayson.

Smyth noted that all three ladies, including June Jones, would share breakfast at Mattie's Restaurant, calling it their &#8220breakfast group.”

Dianne White worked for Finlayson at Annie's Restaurant from 1995 until 2005. She had recently gone back to the restaurant to help during Finlayson's illness.

&#8220We were open this past Sunday, the day she died,” White recalled. &#8220It just wouldn't have been right to closeŠ.We really didn't know what else to do.”

&#8220We had been open during the hurricanes, and Mrs. Ann would have had us open this past Sunday, too,” she said, smiling.

&#8220As sick as she was in the hospital, she would still ask about Annie's every day,” White said. &#8220She was in the restaurant about two weeks ago, and she was in good spiritsŠ..she was never down.”

White thought about some of the things she would miss most about &#8220Miss Annie.”

&#8220I don't care if she had not seen you in two years or two days, she treated you the sameŠshe treated everyone the same.”

&#8220We had our regular beach travelers who were passing through last Sunday to say, ‘Tell Miss Annie, hey!'” White said. &#8220It's amazing how many people knew her.”

Luverne resident Alvin Bland taught Sunday School classes with Finlayson at LUMC.

&#8220I will always remember Ann as one of the most beautiful and unselfish spirits I have ever known,” he said. &#8220She would teach our Sunday School class on a designated Sunday each month, and it was always such a treat to be lifted by her spirituality, humor and common sense. She was a dear friend, always cheerful no matter what, and she had to go way before her time. We will all miss her terribly.”