El Futuro is humbled and honored to carry on the impactful legacy of immigrant, educator, and philanthropist Ann O’Bar with a recent, generous donation from the Angelina Merenda (Ann) O’Bar Trust.
Coming from an immigrant family, Ann O’Bar was deeply committed to supporting those who needed a hand to fulfill their dreams. This ethos is directly aligned with El Futuro’s mission to nurture stronger familias to live out their dreams, which we do through providing culturally-responsive mental health services for Latino families. For that reason, when we were contacted by her friend and Co-Trustee Melanie Mitchell, a local Durham-ite, about a potential gift from the Trust to support services for immigrant families in Durham and the surrounding region, we were overjoyed to learn that our mission was a fit.
Angelina Marie Merenda (Ann) O’Bar was born on March 1, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York. Ann met and married Jesse R. O’Bar, Jr. on October 27, 1956 and followed him to his hometown of Chickasha, Oklahoma, where they built a life filled with family, friends, and deep involvement with their community.
Ann worked for over 45 years in the educational field, with a particular focus on supporting Native American families in her region. Her first teaching position was in 1967 working with kindergarten Head Start children in Chickasha Public Schools. She continued her work with Head Start for over 20 years, teaching, training, becoming Director of Washita Valley Head Start, President of the Oklahoma Head Start Association and a longtime member of the National Head Start Association Board in Washington, DC.
Following her work with Head Start, beginning in 1987, Ann then served as project director/associate director at the University of Oklahoma’ s Center for Child and Family Development and was named director emeritus for the center. Here she developed the Growing Up Strong program for classroom use with young children. She also served as a member of the Oklahoma Department of Human Service’s Child Care Advisory Committee for over 30 years to improve services to young children and their families.
Throughout her career Ann was an exemplary consultant and advocate for early childhood education at local, state, national, and international levels. She established the Merenda-O’Bar Scholarship for students who wanted to be teachers of young children. She was honored with the Outstanding Service Award and was a long time, active, and honored member of Delta Kappa Gamma.
She passed peacefully on February 22, 2020 while living at Legends Memory Care in South Oklahoma City.
We are beyond grateful for the life and legacy of Ann O’Bar, and to her Trust for the generous donation to support our work with Latino families.