Born in England in 1938, Ann Marston immigrated to the United States with her parents in 1949. Already an accomplished archerâ€”and British national champion–Ann soon dominated the field of American archery. Throughout the 1950s, she won numerous competitions. After winning every junior award and consistently breaking world records in the junior classification, she was allowed to participate as an adult at age fifteen–three years earlier than normally permitted. Besides becoming a four-time Women’s Free Style champion, Ann earned a total of eleven national archery titles and garnered the respect that few female athletes enjoyed at that time.
Ann’s archery success led to her being featured in Life, Seventeen and Sports Illustrated. She also appeared on national television programs, including those hosted by Ed Sullivan and Dick Van Dyke. At about the same time, she was diagnosed with Type 1 juvenile diabetes. Diabetes was not considered to be a dire health risk, although it required a daily insulin injection.
In the early 1960s, Ann moved away from competitive archery and concentrated on a lucrative show business career that included traveling throughout the Midwest and Canada with a popular automobile show called Thrillcade–a surreal combination of an old-fashioned circus, auto stunt show, music concert and NASCAR event.
Despite these many successes, Ann began experiencing vision problems. She was suffering from the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, a condition that caused small veins behind the eye to rupture and bleed. Ann’s life changed again in the mid-1960s when she became a highly successful talent agent for Detroit-area rock and roll groups.
In the spring of 1969, Ann suddenly lost her sight in both eyes. She was fitted with binocular-style glasses that enabled her to see a bit more clearly, but her health gradually deteriorated. In early March 1971, she collapsed and fell into a coma. Four days later, Ann Marston died.
For more on this and other intersting stories on Michigan’s past, see the current issue of Michigan History magazine, which is available on most newsstands, or call 1-800-366-3703 or go to www.michiganhistorymagazine.com.