Anne Skoglund devoted her life to caring for those around her: whether they were hurricane victims in the southern United States, girls in Kenya who needed menstrual products, or immigrants in the Twin Cities seeking English lessons.
"Anne always loved people," and had friends "of all walks of life, of all strata," said her mother, Linda Skoglund. "She always made everybody feel special, and everybody talked about how when they were with Anne, she focused on them."
Anne, 40, died Feb. 13 after struggling privately with bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety. She worked diligently with psychologists, counselors, physicians and others to try to overcome her illnesses with a mixture of medications and other treatments.
"Her psychiatrist and another clinician said that on some rare occasions patients suffering from the combination of bipolar, anxiety and OCD disorders temporarily develop mental tornados of uncontrollable self-destructive compelling obsessions, which include suicide," her father, former state Sen. Wes Skoglund, wrote in a public note attached to her obituary. "Sadly, we were told, that's probably what happened to Anne."
"People here know that afflictions like Anne's were neurological and physiological," he wrote, "and she would have wanted it discussed for the greater good."
Anne was born in South Korea in January of 1982, and the Skoglunds saw the first photo of her as part of an adoption referral two months later. They "loved her immediately," Linda recalled. That May, an escort accompanied Anne to the United States, where a group of 50 to 60 people, including her adoptive parents, gathered in the airport to meet her. The pilots cried. The flight attendants cried. For the Skoglunds, it was a life-changing moment.
Anne was a "brainy" child who excelled in school but never boasted of her intelligence, family members said. She had a silly, quirky personality and loved being around other people. That drew her to sports like cross-country skiing, cross-country running and track.
After graduating from Minneapolis South High School and then the University of Minnesota, Morris, Anne worked for AmeriCorps. She lived in a tent while helping victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, at one point calling her parents and asking them to send her child-sized work gloves because her hands were too small to fit the ones normally handed out to workers.
Anne saved money to pay for a trip to Kenya, where she volunteered for a group called Days for Girls, which provides reusable menstrual products to girls who might not otherwise be able to access them. She convinced friends and family to help them sew products; the group took 15 suitcases worth of materials on their trip.
She also traveled to South Korea, making about six trips to visit her birth family. "They're grieving like we are," Wes Skoglund said.
Anne's other passions included teaching French and English, nannying, creating jewelry, volunteering for the Special Olympics and participating in activities with Fabric church.
Anne's parents said they planned for 200 people to attend her funeral and were blown away when about 450 showed up. Online tributes poured in from people who described her as a humble woman with a big smile. They said she cared immensely about her friends and listened intently to every story they wanted to share. She didn't shy away from deep conversations, they said, but was just as happy to have goofy ones as well.
"She lived a good life," said Linda.
Added Wes: "She contributed to the Earth."