You may not know her name, but she’s brushed shoulders with Margaret Thatcher, worked on Wall Street, and shattered records raising money for George W. Bush’s first presidential campaign.
Annie Presley has been behind the scenes of many of the biggest fundraising efforts in Kansas City and she recently released a book with co-author Christy Howard. Read This...When I’m Dead, A Guide to Getting Your Stuff Together For Your Loved Ones, is a self-described irreverent work-book designed to make sure your family and friends are prepared for your death.
Presley sat down with Up To Date host Steve Kraske to talk about her book and also relive some of the most note-worthy moments of her busy life.
Here are some highlights from the interview:
On the moment she knew George W. Bush might be president, at a 'shopping' event in Kansas City with his advisor Karl Rove. (Shopping is a term used by public relations people when they take a potential candidate around to events and see how people react to them.)
"Here comes George W. with Karl, and we had a big event and none other than Buck O'Neil called me and said 'I want to meet this guy,' and I said 'Buck, he's a Republican,' because he always had a crush on Hillary Clinton. He said, ‘I know but he’s a baseball man’.
"I thought, 'Oh, this is different,' and so off we went to this event, and they had a love-fest of course, couldn’t stop talking baseball. But meanwhile, people are taking their babies and shoving them into George W.’s hands and getting their picture taken, I had one guy with a Sharpie wanting him to sign his own arm. Things we hadn’t seen in a while. He just had an ability to connect with people just in immediacy, and they liked it. He was approachable, he was fun and he was modern."
On being denied a flyover from the White House at Buck O’Neil’s funeral.
"Oh man, I’m going to cry...[Buck O'Neil] was a navy man who worked in the bottom of a ship. He had not gotten to go to public school in Sarasota, Florida. He worked in the celery fields, but he had these big giant hands and he was going to be a baseball player. So he served in the Navy, came back out, played ball [and] was the first black manager in [Major] League Baseball.
"And when we were planning his funeral, I called the White House and I said ‘We need a flyover.’ And they called me back, and these are my friends because I worked with them on the George W. Bush campaign. They said, ‘Well, he wasn’t an officer and he didn't win any medals so we can’t do a flyover, it’s against the rules.’
"I said ‘Excuse me? He’s a hero. Who cares?’ He was ironing white men’s shirts in the bottom of a ship, that’s how he served our country, that was his job. I was fit to be tied. So I called my friend Matt Blunt, and he sent us a single helicopter, that was so cool. They choreographed it with a single bagpiper and it was just amazing how well it worked out."
On why she decided to write Read This...When I’m Dead.
"We were working together, Christy and I, and she was called away to her mother’s bedside to tell her goodbye. And she returned to work the next day with a big notebook that was about four inches thick with a ribbon tied around it and she said, ‘Well my mom’s alive, and I’ve got to update all the documents.” So her mom has a debilitating disease but has lived all these years.
"My story is exactly the opposite. My mom did die when I was a kid, and [my siblings and I] have nothing, we have no pictures of ourselves with her, we have very little in her handwriting, we don't have any of her recipes, we don't have any of her back story. We had to try to fill it in with other family members. So I was quite envious of Christy’s notebook that she and her mom had prepared."