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Dr. Ann Nannini Rizzi

Ann Nannini Rizzi, age 92, from Lee’s Summit, left her temporary home on Wednesday, June 26th, 2024. A woman who devoted her life to serving God, loving her family, and teaching many children. Her earthly presence is mourned, but her eternal life is celebrated.

Ann was the daughter of Luigi and Carolina Nannini, Italian immigrants who owned Luigi’s Grocery Store where Ann grew up working. Her parents gave her the best of everything in life.

Dr Ann Nannini Rizzi

Ann was the love baby of her parents. Luigi came to America in 1920 to start a new life. He was without his wife and three boys, Domenic, Michael and Vincenzo, for 11 years and remained faithful. Nine months after Luigi and Carolina were reunited in America, Ann was born on Nov. 2, 1931 in Red Bank, New Jersey, on an Indian summer day.

Ann’s education was sparked while working with her father in the store and officially ended with her completion of a Ph.D. at age 69. Although Ann started school speaking only Italian, she managed to skip two grades during her school years. She graduated from High School at age 16 and received a B.S. in Education at age 20 from Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.

Her spiritual walk began with her parents and under the spiritual care of Monsignor Di Lorenzo and Sister Assunta Fenelli (Order of St. Lucy Fillipini). Ann would spend time with these sisters who were devoted to helping the Italian immigrant children.

In 1955, Ann met her husband, Tony, who was from Kenilworth, NJ, at Tachikawa, Air Force Base, Japan, in the Church Choir. She had gone to teach for the United States Department of Defense while Tony was stationed there in the Air Force.

It was by Divine Providence that the two met. Ann and Tony grew up living only 40 miles apart in New Jersey but had not met until they were overseas in Japan. They were married in 1957.

The couple, much in love with God and each other, had eight children. The first seven Anthony, Maria, Valerie, Domenic, Raymond, Cabrina and Anna Mary were born in 4.75 years. This was accomplished through having two sets of twins. Four years later their eighth child, Lorenzo, was born, making a total of four girls and four boys. All of the children have earned at least one college degree and four have earned doctorates.

When Ann met Tony in Japan, he was in the Air Force and had only a high school education. During the first 14 years of their marriage, he completed a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. while additionally becoming an officer in the Air Force. Tony served for 22 years with Ann by his side.

Ann’s teaching career lasted over 50 years, and she taught all the grades from Kindergarten through College. She started her career in 1952 at age 20. Her first position was in Red Bank, New Jersey. She also taught in Tachikawa, Japan; Sophia University, Japan; Biloxi, Mississippi; Bellevue, Nebraska; West Lafayette, Indiana; Gladden Elementary, Belton, Missouri; Yeokum Middle School, Belton, Missouri and Masters of Art Program at Webster University for 20 years.

Ann’s former students often remember her as “La Signora Rizzi” who sponsored an Italian Club where students cooked lasagna with her, sang Italian songs and wore Italian clothes.

In 1976 while being a mother to seven teenagers, Ann received a M.S. in Psychology from Webster University. In 2001 at the age of 69 she completed her Ph.D. in Psychology.

Ann received Missouri Mother of the Year and Woman of the Year in honor of her legacy. As an educator she was awarded Missouri Teacher of the Year, Belton’s Optimist Teacher of the Year, Outstanding Educator of the Year, and Point of Light Award to honor her work with children that flowed from her heart.

Ann loved her Catholic Christian faith and was devoted to teaching and sharing this gift. She started the Our Lady of Fatima prayer group in 1988 which still is in existence today. She founded Raising Children in the Catholic Faith, an organization empowering young mothers to raise their children to know Jesus. She prepared hundreds of children to receive the sacraments, directed schools of religion in her Church, and taught Catechism classes for several years.

Ann believed the scripture, “...Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more,” Luke 12:48). After retirement she followed a call to use her gifts to return the love she received. She was invested into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, served on Commissions for the Bishop, entered the Secular Order of St. Francis, and engaged in the Serra Club, an organization that promotes vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Other clubs which she was a member of included: Lakewood Garden Club, AFSA Women’s Auxiliary, MOAO Women’s Auxiliary, Italian Club, Campofilice Club, UNICO, Missouri Right to Life, The Tabernacle Society, and MRTA.

Ann, the author of “Raising Children in the Catholic Faith ‘’ and “Making Pregnancy Holy”, always referred to children as the “Best People on Earth”. She loved all children dearly and constantly gave herself to her husband, children, and 25 grandchildren who affectionately called her “Nonna”. Her family always eagerly awaited the annual six course Italian Christmas dinner followed by Biscotti and a birthday cake for the Baby Jesus.

Ann always felt that she was so blessed and never could say, “Thank You”, enough to her Heavenly Father. She was loved by God and her husband Tony with all of his heart and being. Praise the Lord.

She is preceded in death by her husband Dr. Anthony “Tony” Rizzi, husband of 63 years. They leave behind eight children, 25 grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren. The visitation was on July 5, 2024 and the funeral Mass and burial were on July 6, 2024.

Donations can be made to The Institute for Advanced Physics at


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