Late last year, Decker, 78, contracted the novel coronavirus at the Bethesda, Md., nursing home where she had lived since March. She died Dec. 18 at Suburban Hospital.
Decker worked at the Morris County Daily Record in New Jersey; the Potomac Almanac, where she served as the sports editor; and the Gaithersburg Gazette. Her husband of 56 years recalls walking into an event in Morris County when she was covering local government and the mayor lighting up when he greeted his wife.
“I knew then I was Mr. Anne Decker,” James Decker, 80, said with a laugh.
The two had met years earlier at James Decker’s college graduation. His friend Sperry Romig introduced him to his sister, Anne. James Decker was working in the D.C. area that summer and decided to pay a visit to his friend at his family’s home in Alexandria in the hope of seeing Anne. He was in luck.
“She was there, and he wasn’t,” he said.
They started dating, got married in 1964 and had two sons, John and David. They settled in Potomac, Md., where her sons remember her being an engaged, calm mother who read to them nightly, saved their drawings and other projects, and instilled in them an appreciation for the importance of hard work.
In an episode that would become part of family lore, Anne Decker one day found herself locked in the bathroom of their New Jersey home, her husband at work and her 2-year-old son on the other side of the door, unable to summon help.
“Might as well clean out the medicine cabinet while I am here,” she wrote in an account of the day that was published in the Morris County Daily Record. “After cleaning out the cabinet, I decided to put on my makeup — just in case I was rescued.”
She brought her love of writing home, said her elder son, John, who does not remember his mother being locked in the bathroom but does remember her patiently editing his high school essays, undaunted when he argued with her.
Now an attorney, he said he sometimes gives young lawyers tips his mother taught him, including reading aloud and checking for spelling by reading articles backward.
Anne Decker developed Alzheimer’s disease a few years ago and moved to Carriage Hill of Bethesda after James Decker realized that he could no longer care for her. Because of visiting restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, he saw her only a few times. But he called every day.
The family learned that Anne Decker had contracted the coronavirus in November amid an outbreak at the facility.
Her husband, sons, brother and two grandchildren spent the last days on daily Zoom calls with her, telling her how much they loved her.