With the passing away of Ann, the earth lost one of its brightest spirits. I will always remember her joy in showing me around the garden and her unfailing optimism.

Polly Teeter

Support Ann's passions

Streissguth Gardens Conservancy

Ann Streissguth, Ph.D. Endowed Professorship in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (at the UW)

Ann was born in Pasadena, California, to Agnes Gurney Roth and Arie Roth. Both parents were European-born — Agnes in England, and Arie in the Netherlands. Ann lived her early and grade school years in South Pasadena. At the end of World War II, she moved with her parents to a verdant fruit ranch in Winston, Oregon, (near Roseburg). Ann worked hard in the family orchard and in 4-H activities. She graduated from Roseburg High School in 1950.

She was the first in her family to attend college, with the help of a Spreckels Sugar scholarship, won by her angel food cake baking skills. She attended Oregon State College, graduating magna cum laude in 1954 with a bachelor's degree in Home Economics Education. She then taught high school Home Economics in Santa Rosa, California. She went on to attend the University of California, Berkeley to study with noted child psychologist, Nancy Bailey, earning an MS degree in 1959.

Aiming at a teaching position, Ann continued at the University of Washington (UW) graduating with a PhD in Psychology in 1964. After completing several clinical programs, Ann was given an instructorship at the UW Medical School, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

In 1973, Ann was asked to examine two newborn babies at Harborview Hospital, both born to mothers of known alcohol abuse during the pregnancies. Working with renowned UW Professor David Smith, Ann and colleagues identified several additional alcohol-related births in the following months, finding unusual facial features, and atypical developmental characteristics. Together they published an article in the distinguished British medical journal, The Lancet, describing what became known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). A deluge of messages arrived from around the world as clinicians recognized similar features.

Realizing the significance and probable widespread prevalence of FAS, Ann was determined to make this a focus of her university research and practice. In ensuing years, Ann and colleagues dealt with demographic issues, with the effects alcohol had with dosage and timing of the alcohol ingestion. Ann is internationally known. She's published widely, she's lectured in hundreds of places in the US and around the globe: in most of the Western European countries, in Brazil, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Russia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Mauritius. Her work has benefited countless families and individuals.

Among her many outstanding efforts:

  • The Seattle 500 Study: This study on the long-term effects of alcohol and drug use and other health behaviors during pregnancy, enrolled 500 children and their mothers and tracked outcomes for nearly three decades.
  • "Don't Drink During Pregnancy": Warning signs about the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy were developed and posted throughout Washington state wherever alcohol is sold, and bottle labeling was instituted in the U.S. and many other countries.
  • The Secondary Disabilities Study: This research examined the types and extent of adverse life outcomes associated with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders among over 400 individuals, paving the way for follow-up studies and intervention efforts.
  • The Parent-Child Assistance Program (PCAP) is an intensive case management model helping high-risk mothers build healthy families and preventing future births of children exposed to alcohol and drugs. Serving families in Washington State since 1996, PCAP has been replicated at dozens of sites in the U.S. and Canada.

Ann retired from her UW work in 2005. Her work is being continued through the UW Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit (FADU).

During her early years at the UW Ann lived for a time on a Lake Union houseboat but sought an even wider Lake Union view, so she bought a house on northwest Capitol Hill. While establishing a garden on the steep hillside surrounding her house she met her next-door neighbor, Daniel Streissguth, also establishing a garden above his newly completed house. She says, "The rest is history!" Ann and Daniel were married in 1968, and they had one child, a son Benjamin, born in 1970.

In 1972, the family had the opportunity to buy an adjacent steep-hillside plot of land and began gardening it, focusing on woodlands, fruits and berries, vegetables, and perennial plantings. After gardening this steep hillside for 24 years, Ann, Dan, and Ben gave the garden to the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department in 1996. The gardens became a northward extension of the existing St. Mark's Greenbelt. The family was granted the right to continue caring for the now public garden. Ann was often found gleefully watering the garden, weeding, and propagating plants from seeds and cuttings. Many visitors to the garden recall her beaming smile and energetic spirit, especially when she would share stories about the garden and treasured plants.

The family has enjoyed traveling both for vacation and professionally. In the years 1971-72, Ann, Daniel, and baby Benjamin traveled, and lived in Central Turkey, Sicily, and West England while Daniel was on sabbatical. In 1980 the family lived in Paris, France, while Ann was on sabbatical. During this year Daniel had several short Fulbright professorships and the family joined him in Irbid, Jordan, Damascus and Aleppo, Syria. In the fall of 1985, the family lived in Rome as Daniel taught at the UW Rome Center. Ann and Daniel were intrepid travelers, having been on six of the seven continents. In their 70's and 80's they took up bicycle touring in Europe.

Ann died peacefully at home on August 1, 2023, of natural causes. She will be interred next to Daniel, her husband of over 50 years at Lakeview Cemetery, Seattle. A Celebration of Life Gathering will be held on August 31, 2023. More information can be found at facebook.com/groups/annstreissguth or by contacting Ben at 206.280.5842 or [email protected].

Click on any image to enlarge and open slide show

Ann hiking on Mt. Ranier, 2002

Ann, Ben, and Chips, c. 1984

Ann in Streissguth Gardens, 2003

Ann at Green Lake, 2014

Ben and Jade's wedding, 2021

Ann on a camel in southern Algeria, 1990'2

Ann and Daniel

Ann in Passadina, CA, 1940's

Ann and Daniel on Gitana, 1983

Ann and Daniel dancing, 2016

Ben and Ann in bed, 1973

Dan and Ann, Christmas, 1968

Ann, 1967