Feature Story: Ange Workman

How Many Mothers do you Know who Became a Pilot at 52?

Angé Workman grew up in the 70s when women’s rights was a hot topic. She also grew up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), where it is taught that being a mother was one of the most important things a woman could do.

Did she become a mother? Absolutely (of eight children in fact). She also helped in translating the Book of Mormon to Russian, became an active leader in the Boy Scouts of America and started flying planes at 52.

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Angé loved playing in the outdoors with her brothers

Growing Up With The Boys?

Angé grew up in the sticks of Wisconsin. She is the second oldest of 10 children. Since her three sisters came very last, she mainly spent her childhood playing with her brothers in the woods. Whether they were swimming in the lake or pretending to be on a safari hunt; they enjoyed the outdoors and weren’t afraid to get a little dirty.

“We just had a lot of fun,” she said. “We lived on a river and had a lot of adventures. We even taught ourselves to scuba dive.”

No one ever discouraged her from doing what she wanted. When she was 13 years old she joined Civil Ari Patrol with her two brothers. In this organization they learned about flying airplanes.

Graduating High School At 16

Angé has been LDS her whole life. She would travel 25 miles to get to their church in Eagle River. Her family of 12 made up a big portion of the small branch and was very involved in the Church.

She remembers her parents getting the Church News, and in it was a story of a young man who started college early and became a doctor in his early twenties. It made her wonder if she could graduate early.

“I really wasn’t excited about high school,” she said. “I really, really wanted to learn and schooling goes so slow in high school, particularly in the language classes I was studying.”

She studied French and German in high school and after her first year she got permission from her teachers to take the next two levels at her own advanced paced. She studied on her own time to excel through the program.

When she was a sophomore she started making plans for early graduation. She had to double down on social studies, English classes and drop out of music in order to complete the requirements.

But, at the age of 16, she accomplished her goal. She graduated the same year has her older brother Kory; barely beating him out of being Valedictorian.

“I think the reason I beat him is because he had a greater social life than I did,” she admits.

Double Major, No Problem

Angé considered a few colleges to attend but she had her eyes set on Brigham Young University. She scored high enough on the ACT that BYU contacted her dad and asked him if she had applied for any scholarships. She decided she had better apply.

She received the President Scholarship all four years at BYU. She knew she loved languages, as she had already studied French and German, but she was looking for something different.

“Not everyone studied Russian and Chinese back then and I wanted to do something a little more challenging,” she said. “And it just sounded exciting and exotic.”

Angé (second from the left) paid her way through school by working on campus and at a Wisconsin theme park during the summers.
Angé (second from the left) paid her way through school by working on campus and at a Wisconsin theme park during the summers.

Double major meant double time on her workload again, but at this point she was used to that. She was proud to be able to pay for her own education and expenses all four years. She returned back home to Wisconsin every summer where she worked at Pleasure Island, a theme park.

It was during the summer before her senior year she met her husband, Robert Workman, who was serving an LDS mission at the time.

Angé would reconnect with him during her last fall semester and married him in December. She finished out her last semester pregnant, with a full load of classes, but she graduated in April 1977 with her double major in Russian and Chinese.

She was able to use her degree by teaching at BYU for a few years. She was also asked to be part of translating the Book of Mormon into Russian.

Raising 8 Children

Angé was never afraid of challenges, but perhaps one of her greatest challenge that has shaped her life was raising her children.

“It was challenging and rewarding,” she said. “I don’t know if I set out to have eight children. We didn’t really have a plan. We just felt right about each one when they came along.”

Angé always made time to get involved with her kids and their interests, like scouting for her boys.
Angé always made time to get involved with her kids and their interests, like scouting for her boys.

Angé knew she wanted to teach her children at home. She wanted to teach them strong values in the home before they went out into the world. She home schooled all eight children through their elementary education.

“It was a challenge for me to see if I could do it. Just like graduating from college,” she said. “I had a goal to keep myself continually using my brain and growing.”

She taught her kids how to stick through challenges and work hard.

“My mom always built me up to live toward my dreams,” said Katrina Bishop, one of her daughters. “She would never let me use the ‘I’m stupid or not smart enough’ as an excuse to stop me.”

She also made sure her kids got plenty of extra curricular activities through music, sports and church.

“It was always amazing to think she was able to keep us all involved in our own things and never had a moment to herself,” said her son, Erik Workman. “Life was never dull.”

Journey To Finding True Self-Worth

The ultimate challenge in life came when her kids grew into adulthood. It was hard to watch them make choices in their lives that didn’t align with what she envisioned.

“I’ve come to realize it was because I was basing my self-worth on the wrong thing,” she said. “I was basing my self-worth on how I thought people perceived me within the church or the community, based on actions my children made. Which didn’t fall into my perfect plan.”

Angé is likely not the only woman in the Church that feels this way. She believes many members feel they have to complete a checklist of certain things to be judged worthy by other members of the Church.

“I don’t think people are necessarily judging us. We just perceive that,” she said.

She didn’t understand that for many years and she struggled with herself, wondering what she could have done better. Like many mothers, she wanted to be perfect.

“But in wanting to be the perfect mother I set myself up for lots of mistakes because I wasn’t perfect,” she said.

Eventually she realized she needed to base her self-worth not on someone else, but on herself and her relationship with God.

Confidence Comes From Within

One of the things that has given her confidence in herself has been working with the Boy Scouts of America program.

She first got started in 1980 working with the younger Cub Scouts. She enjoyed it because she had grown up with so many brothers and enjoyed outdoor activities. She continued to work in Scouting even when she was called to other positions in the Church.

“I could see the value of teaching good values to boys and young men in a fun environment,” she said.

Through her 36 years of scouting she has received many awards, one of the highest being the Silver Beaver award. In 2013 she was named one of the most Influential Women in Scouting.

Angé enjoys bike riding with her husband and recently returned from a bike trip in Europe.
Angé enjoys bike riding with her husband and recently returned from a bike trip in Europe.

Skills she learned through scouting were a lifesaver for her husband Robert.

In 2013 they were road biking in East Canyon near their home. She said she was working on climbing a long hill, keeping her head down so she couldn’t see how much farther she had to go.

As she climbed she passed her husband, who was lying down on the side of the road. She kept calm as she started practicing first aid skills. Eventually he stopped breathing.

“I knew I had to do something, ” she said. “I knew through first aid you just do compressions and after a bit he started breathing.”

Her husband was transported to the hospital and recovered fully.

“This life is so short. No matter what would have happened it would have been okay,” she said.

They still enjoy riding together and recently toured Europe with their bikes.

Never Giving Up On Goals

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Angé continues to find her worth by accomplishing goals and challenges she sets for herself. One of the lifelong goals she had was getting her pilot license.

She started working on it just before turning 50 and officially became a pilot at 52.

“My husband was the one that encouraged me to do it the most,” she said.

Robert said he has always been attracted to her genuine personality. He describes her as a smart, hardworking, caring, multi-tasking-genius and full of energy. Her kids view her as one of the most selfless individuals they know (despite her dry humor and quips).

Stephen Workman, her second oldest son, said he has learned by her example the power of faith in getting through tough times. He has learned to recognize his capabilities through her encouragement and love.

“I have also learned compassion for others through her example,” Stephen said. “She is a shinning example of charity.”

Angé gave parting advice from Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never, never ever give up.”

“Never give up on yourself. Never give up on doing good even if you don’t see the results right away. Never give up on your children,” she said. “Continue to love and love with a pure love, unconditional.”

Angé says she will always continue to push herself in accomplishing goals. One of the things she is never giving up on is a goal to learn five languages. She is currently learning Greek.

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