AUBURN, Ala. - Retiring after more than 32 years in the business office, Ann Harper won’t be coming to work anymore in the Auburn Athletics Complex, but she’ll still be a presence on campus.
“I’m enjoying all of the sporting events,” said Harper, who worked at Auburn from the mid-1980s until February 28, her final day.
When Auburn is on the road, or “Mrs. Ann” can’t make it to the venues because she’s with her husband at home, she’ll still keep tabs on the Tigers.
“If they’re on TV, I watch them,” Harper said.
At her retirement party in the Rane Room, Harper reflected on three-plus decades of service to Auburn Athletics.
“Being able to make sure that things were done and done properly,” she said.
Harper talked about assisting a student-athlete who had misplaced his scholarship check, and the time she drove to the mall to pick up a co-worker’s wife who was unaware her husband had taken ill and was on his way to the hospital.
“Just helping people,” Harper said.
In retirement, Harper plans to continue helping people, beginning with her 2-year-old great granddaughter, when childcare is needed.
Sports, of course, will still play a role. Harper’s 8-year-old great grandson plays baseball, and Mrs. Ann plans to be a regular at his games.
“I always had help with my children,” she said. “Having someone that you can depend on, if they’re sick and they can’t go to daycare, who can come. Taking care of them.”
Looking out for others is a trait Ann Harper modeled throughout her tenure at Auburn.
It’s also a characteristic she observed in her bosses, athletic directors Pat Dye, David Housel and Jay Jacobs.
“Ann Harper is one of the most dedicated employees I’ve ever had the good fortune of working with,” Jacobs said. “She was an unsung hero in the athletic department for three decades, and I deeply appreciate her loyal service to Auburn Athletics. “I’m happy she will be able to enjoy retirement and spend more time with her family. While we will miss Ann in the office, I look forward to seeing her at the many athletic events she supports.”
“When I got the job, I was very fortunate,” Harper said. “Coach Dye was a great person.”
When Harper’s oldest daughter, Diane, enrolled at Auburn, Ann was surprised to learn that, at the time, dependents of athletic department employees received a full scholarship, courtesy of Coach Dye.
“I didn’t find out until later how he funded that,” Harper said. “He funded that through his endorsements.”
Day after day, decade after decade, Harper was part of the team behind the teams.
“We’ve just had good people, even with the different changes, from the typewriter to the computer. Going online, learning all of those new technologies,” she said.
“They always laugh at me because I’m not really high-tech because I didn’t grow up with a computer in my hand.” Like the winning coaches and student-athletes she served, Ann Harper adapted to handle the changing times.
“I love athletics,” she said. “I’ve always loved sports.”