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The witness accounts of what led to the “kickball incident” of 2013 vary. But, there is no disputing the facts. Annie Kayser completely destroyed an eight-year-old boy.

Some say that it was an accident. Some say it was her competitive nature. But the farmers who watched knew it right away. They recognized one of their own.

Annie was born in Ursa, Illinois, a small town close to Quincy, with a population of about 600 people.

She was one of three children, born so close to each other that they could be best described as “Irish twins.” 

Her mother, Carol, born in Chicago, attended Quincy College not only because it was a Catholic University, but also because of the volleyball athletic scholarship they provided. In fact, all five of her brothers and sisters attended the college on various athletic scholarships. But the main pull was her Catholic faith.

LEFT: Carol, Terry, and the "Irish Twins" RIGHT: Annie and her mother, Carol.

Annie recalls, “You found out through the catholic “network” where the high schools and colleges were and that’s where you went.”

After graduation, all of Carol’s brothers and sisters headed back to Chicago, but Carol stayed because she met Terry, a man that Annie says was “the biggest redneck you’ve ever seen in your life.”

Terry was, in all estimation, unlike any man Carol had met before. He too came from a large, Catholic family, but his days were filled with hunting and fishing in his Jon boat. He couldn’t have been more different from Carol. Terry dropped out of college not because he couldn’t handle it, he just didn’t want to take any arts and humanities classes. He loved engineering, but the other stuff to him was just a waste of time.

They met their freshman year and when it came time to graduate, he just couldn’t picture himself in the big city, so they made the decision to get married and start a family in Ursa.

Terry followed his passion and started his own fishing lure company in his basement with his brother. He created what is called a “Weed Guard,” which is a component that attaches to a jig, preventing snags. Kayser Lures can be found all over the world, right beside Curly Tail Grubs, Spinnies, Pencil Poppers and Gitzits.

This is the home that Annie was born into. Riding the line between big city and rural community — a mother who came from fast-paced Chicago and a father who loved long days and freedom of a small town.

It’s easy to see why Annie is a graceful combination of city wise and country strong.

She had what one would consider a typical small-town upbringing. She was a cheerleader (Go Mustangs!), played volleyball and ran track. She was also Homecoming queen and then did what most rural community girls do, competed in the Country Fair Pageant.

“People like to give me a hard time for it now,” she says with a smirk. “But, I took home the honor of "Best Speech and Stage Presence."

She quickly adds, “My mom made me do it, a scholarship was on the line.” 

It was here in Middle school that she met her now husband, Adam. Technically, they met in pre-school, but Annie doesn’t remember him.

“He jokes that he remembers me,” she says, shaking her head. “He says I had a mullet and a strange snack every day —Kraft singles.”

They didn’t start dating until High School. It must have been the cheese.

After graduating high school, Annie headed to Western Illinois University, where armed with an academic scholarship, Annie studied Communications and eventually earned her Master’s degree. Clearly, she didn’t have issues with the arts and humanities like her father did.

While working on her thesis, Annie moved to Saint Louis, where she waitressed at what was then known as Ozzy Smith’s Sports Bar in Westport. She applied and started work at a Monsanto subsidiary called AFFINA, supporting seed salesmen, and eventually transferred to work at Monsanto full-time.

Monsanto actually recruited her boyfriend, Adam, right out of college. And while they would have loved to make it work at the time, he was relocated to Louisiana, and they quickly found that a long distance relationship was too tough. They stayed friends and as luck would have it, six years later, Monsanto moved Adam to Saint Louis, and they reconnected.

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“It’s funny. We were high school sweethearts. But then we broke up, went our separate ways for several years, and got married at 30.” She smiles and continues, “Usually high school sweethearts get married right after school.”

It was a chance meeting at a trade show that led to Annie’s current role as an Account Supervisor here at Paradowski.

Adam and Annie have one son, Rex, named after Adam’s dad who passed when Adam was just four. His mother raised Adam and his two older siblings on her own, and didn’t get remarried until Adam went to College.

“She didn’t want anything to affect how they were raised” Annie says. That kind of strength is found in the heartland, parents putting their kids first. Teaching them values not by words, but actions.

Adam’s Mom was all smiles when Rex was born. She walked through the waiting room doors and said through tears of joy, “There’s another Rex Truebe in this world.”

Recently, Rex's sister Maren was born and soon she'll be told all the stories of life in a small town. But, has it ever occurred to Annie to move back?

“Adam and I joke and talk about it because we both love where we grew up.” She pauses and continues. 

“There’s something about the values, the community and how your friends and neighbors become your family.”

Annie looks away for a moment and continues, “But, I don’t think it will happen because there aren’t a lot of career opportunities offered in a small town. I don’t think I’d be able to find something that I love as much as what I do here.”

She smiles and says, “but it’s something we talk about every time we head back home.”

Spoken like a true amalgam.

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Oh, and as for the kickball incident of 2013. The farmers had it right. You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.