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Monday, September 10, 2012

Ann Romney, the coalminer's grand-daughter

Ann Romney's father, Edward Davies, was baptized into the Mormon faith a year after he died. They have a controversial tradition of posthumously baptising non-Mormons into the Church of the Latter Day Saints.

The bizarre practice was discovered when they began baptising well known Catholics, including popes and Jewish people who died in the Holocaust.  They believe that the soul can accept or reject the baptism, even after death.

Trawling for dead souls to convert to the Mormon faith outraged Catholics and Jews alike.  The names of dead popes and Holocaust victims started turning up on Mormon baptism lists and in 1995, the church pledged to "discontinue any future baptisms of deceased Jews."

Ann met Mitt when she was 15 and converted to Mormonism when she was 17.  Being so young, she would have needed the consent of her father, who was reported to be anti organized religion.  Mitt was in France doing missionary work at the time so his father George Romney arranged Ann's initiation into the faith and her two brothers followed shortly after.

Whether or not it was to please her husband, Ann's mother didn't join her children in converting but when she was nearing the end of her life, she changed her mind and was baptised before she died. Edward Davies was now the only non-Mormon member of his family.  "I'm a scientist" he said "show me the proof."  But a year after he died, they went ahead and baptised him anyway.

Edward Davies was an engineer who eventually became mayor of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  His baptism took place at a special family meeting 14 months after his death in 1993 and a year later, he was "sealed" to his wife for eternity.

Ann's father was born in Wales and her grandfather, David Davies, was a coalminer who went down the mine when he was 6 years old.  He contracted the coalminer's disease "black lung" and lost a kidney when a coal car crushed him.  With no jobs to be found at home, he decided to go to America and start a new life.  In 1929 he started work at the Ford factory in Detroit and when he had saved enough money, he sent for his family.

On one of their many visits to Wales, Ann and Mitt went down a mine with their sons and her brothers, to experience the hardship her ancestors had to face.  Her grandparents could only afford to send one child to college and they chose her father Edward and he went on to live the American immigrant success story.

"I am very proud of my Welsh roots and very tied to them" she said. "They are an extremely important part of who I am."

Despite her ongoing struggle with multiple sclerosis which was diagnosed in 1998, she has proved she has the physical energy to keep up with her husband on the campaign trail. 

This attractive 63 year old mother of five sons and grandmother to 18, is doing something very important - the story about her  grandfather slaving away in a coal mine when he was a small boy has somehow helped to make Mitt Romney appear more human.  And just look at her beautiful family.