Ann Chappell, communications professional and community volunteer, has died

Ann Chappell

Ann Sutherland Chappell, a longtime Fort Worth volunteer and professional in the communications field, died Feb. 26 in Houston from complications of cancer. She was 76.

The funeral service is scheduled for Thursday, March 5, at 2 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 1000 Penn St., Fort Worth 76102, with a reception at 3:30 p.m. at Ridglea Country Club,

3700 Bernie Anderson Ave., Fort Worth 76116.

Mrs. Chappell was the wife of Fort Worth attorney and former Fort Worth City Councilman David Chappell.

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Mrs. Chappell served as the youngest member of the Texas Constitutional Revision Commission in 1973.

In 2014, she was recognized as a Great Woman of Texas by the Fort Worth Business Press. The Business Press recognition was specifically for her work with Habitat for Humanity, but her list of community involvement is long and varied.

Mrs. Chappell was president of the board of directors of Habitat Texas, a statewide organization for 84 affiliates in Texas and was the Coordinator of the Habitat for Humanity Council of North Central Texas, which fostered collaboration between and among the 13 local affiliates in the area.

Prior to that she was president of Fort Worth area Habitat for Humanity, now Trinity Habitat for Humanity.

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“Ann Chappell was a powerhouse of community service in Fort Worth. Not only did she serve as a board member and president of Trinity Habitat for Humanity, she also hammered and sweated alongside other volunteers and homeowners to build many houses across the city,” said Lewis Stephens, owner of Property Rehab Services of Fort Worth and a longtime Habitat supporter.

“Ann was committed to the mission and was a joy to work with during the early years of our local Habitat affiliate. She will be missed and remembered,” Stephens said.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price remembered Mrs. Chappell as “a longtime friend and committed community volunteer who taught her children and grandchildren the importance of giving back to the community.”

“A dedicated wife and mother, she will be greatly missed but I know her service to our community will live on through her family and friends,” Price said.

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Longtime associate Gail Ryan said Habitat “took a mighty leap forward” the day Mrs. Chappell got involved. Ryan was the first executive director for Habitat in Fort Worth and worked closely with Mrs. Chappell for 12 years.

“Every nonprofit should be fortunate enough to have a volunteer show up and ‘fall in love’ with the mission of the organization,” Ryan said. “Ann adored the homeowners and the volunteers and helped to start an organization to support other Habitat affiliates in Texas. Perhaps Ann’s greatest contribution was that she could inspire other people to ‘fall in love‘ with our mission as well.

“On a personal note, if you were sick Ann brought food; if you moved she came to help you pack; and if you lost a family member she brought you an abundance of love.”

“Ann Chappell was a valiant warrior when addressing her health issues and a most gentle soul when nurturing her beloved family and her much larger family of friends,” said Mary Palko, a longtime friend and fellow community volunteer. “The impact on her Fort Worth family is immediate and a great loss.”

Mrs. Chappell was a member of the 1975 class of Leadership Fort Worth.

She served on the Tarrant County Housing Partnership Board, chaired the Fort Worth Town Center Community Connection as well as a community conference, “Chemical Dependency from a Woman’s Perspective,” and was president of The Symphony Society of Tarrant County and The Fort Worth Theatre.

She was also a multi-term member of the Executive Committee of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and served several years on the board of the Junior League of Fort Worth.

“Ann Chappell was a dedicated member of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Executive Committee whose tireless devotion to furthering the orchestra’s mission impacts the community to this day,” said Mercedes T. Bass, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Chairman of the Board.

“Her volunteerism, radiance, and generosity which she gave so selflessly to the city of Fort Worth is her legacy and will continue to serve as an inspiration to us all. She will be missed by all in the arts community,” Bass said.

Ann Koonsman, president emerita of the symphony, recalled Ann and David Chappell’s involvement with the symphony in the early 1980s with other young Fort Worth couples who wanted to support Pops concerts.

“The symphony is grateful to have had their involvement, which strengthened the orchestra’s base of support,” Koonsman said.

The Altrusa International Club of Fort Worth honored Mrs. Chappell with its Woman of Distinctions Award in 1993.

In 1996, the Fort Worth Commission on the Status of Women recognized her as the Outstanding Female Volunteer. In 1998, Mrs. Chappell was named the Outstanding Alumna of the College of Communication of The University of Texas at Austin, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication.

Mrs. Chappell was a founding partner of Training Unlimited, a human resource group specializing in communication, strategic planning and organizational development.

She received the 2003 Courage Award from the Association for Women Journalists, and in 2013 received the Robert Jeffrey Award from the Moody College of Communication at UT-Austin.

She was an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth.

Past professional experience includes extensive professional and volunteer experience consulting with organizations and teaching courses such as Public Speaking, Situational Leadership, Understanding Individual Lifestyles, Group Dynamics, Team Building, Strategic Planning and Community Needs Assessment.

Mrs. Chappell was a former research associate with the regional office of Housing and Urban Development and a Research Associate at the Institute of Urban Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington.

She served as Campaign Coordinator for the Tarrant County Campaign of Lt. Gov. William P. Hobby.

Mrs. Chappell’s interest in politics brought her into contact with Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Court 5 Judge Sergio L. De Leon, who met her in 1992 when the Bill Clinton presidential campaign sent him to Fort Worth to coordinate primary campaign activities in Tarrant County.

David Chappell was the honorary chair, De Leon said, and Mrs. Chappell played a crucial role offering advice and direction, helping to set up Clinton’s local headquarters and hosting Bill and Hillary Clinton when they visited Tarrant County.

After the campaign, De Leon became David Chappell’s City Council aide.

“I will never forget my first orientation meeting that was held at their home in Mistletoe Heights,” he said.

Chappell briefed him on his agenda and the projects he wanted to accomplish before he left office.

“But it was Ann who rattled off names of key constituents who would need to be reached out to, and consulted with, in order to accomplish the councilman’s goals and objectives,” De Leon said.

De Leon recalled Mrs. Chappell’s personal kindness as well as her political expertise.

“Ann knew that my mother and father lived out of state, and I was alone in Fort Worth,” he said. “Some of my fondest memories of her are the days when I would pick up the councilman early in the morning to begin a busy day. Once I entered the house, she was there offering breakfast, or a late dinner whenever we returned after hours following evening city council meetings. She made me feel like part of the family and that meant a great deal to me.”

De Leon said he is thankful for the experience he gained working in the Clinton campaign.

“Meeting and getting to know Ann Chappell was one of the highlights,” he said.

In addition to her husband David, Mrs. Chappell’s survivors include daughter Libbey Paige Chappell Pritchett (married to John Murrin Pritchett) and son Wade Garrett Chappell (married to Camila Blair Jackson Chappell) and four grandchildren: Caroline Beall Chappell; Lillian Carolina Pritchett; John Murrin Pritchett Jr.; and Sutherland Watts Chappell, all of Fort Worth; a brother, John Sutherland of San Antonio; and a sister, Evelee Heit of Belton.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in Mrs. Chappell’s memory to the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Davis, a church the Chappells attended when staying in that area; Trinity Habitat; MD Anderson CART-T program, and Cancer Care Services of Fort Worth.