Anne Ayala of Petaluma, a library aide and teacher who dedicated the early part of her career to humanitarian missions in Latin America, has died. She was 71.
Ayala worked in the Sinaloa Middle School library in Novato from 1982 to 2004. She taught English as a second language at Rincon Valley Middle School in Santa Rosa and held similar positions at Corona Creek and Meadow elementary schools in Petaluma.
She retired in 2009 when funding dried up and her health failed, said her husband of 48 years, Stephen Ayala.
"She was warm and liked being with people," her husband said. "She especially liked being with children. And she loved teaching."
Anne Yoshie Okada was born in Hawaii in 1941. Her parents, Ichiro and Elsie Okada, ran a store in her hometown of Waimea on the island of Kauai.
She worked in the store and also in the public library before attending Arizona State University, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Spanish and literature.
In 1963 she worked with the migrant ministry in farm labor camps in the Central Valley near Fresno and later attended graduate school at the University of Illinois.
She joined the Peace Corps in 1964 after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. She taught English to engineering students at the Escuela Politecnica in Quito, Ecuador. In the summer she was a YMCA camp counselor in the Andes where she taught crafts and coached soccer.
Her future husband was a fellow Peace Corps teacher. They married in 1966 and had two sons.
After a stint as a social worker in Oakland, she and her family went back to South America in 1971. She was a librarian in Cali, Colombia.
They returned to California in 1982. Her family built a house in Petaluma in a self-help project along with 10 other families.
In her spare time, she was a member of the Friends of the Petaluma Library, the California Native Plant Society, Petaluma FISH (Friends in Service to Humanity), and the Snap-y International Folk Dancers. She also was a member of the United Church of Christ in Petaluma.
She died Dec. 20 of kidney failure at Petaluma Valley Hospital.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by sons Alec Ichiro Ayala of Anaheim and Daniel Jiro Ayala of Copenhagen, Denmark; a sister, Ranceford Okada of Broomfield, Colo.; and her brother David Okada of Westchester, Ohio. Also, she leaves two grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Friday at the United Church of Christ in Petaluma.