Every community has its collection of colorful characters. In Charlotte’s case, that included a woman dressed in bright orange who peddled her bicycle along city streets on a strict schedule to collect cans to sell for their scrap value. Some referred to her as “Tin Can Ann,” to others she was “Bicycle Annie” or “Orange Annie.” Her actual name was Virginia Ann Jetton and she passed away a few weeks ago. The Charlotte Observer provides a touching look at one of the city’s best known and most discussed residents. A highlight:

One day in the 1980s, Lisa Hand ran into her at the Salvation Army on Central Avenue and felt a tug in her heart. She approached Jetton, introduced herself, and the two exchanged contact information, she says.

And for the next 30-some years, Hand fostered her friendship with Jetton, calling her on the phone, taking her out to eat or to the movies.

“She was eclectic, electric, fluorescent, an orange moving star. That is what she was,” Hand says.

“She was such a Charlotte icon that when I would pick her up and take her out to dinner, we would walk into a restaurant and I felt like a ’50s movie star. Every single face turns and looks at you and for a few minutes, the restaurant kind of pauses,” she says. “They’d say, ‘That’s the bicycle lady.’ Your spine would straighten up a little bit, that’s how famous she was.”

Inside Jetton’s apartment, Hand says, thousands of vinyl records and LPs lined the walls, with narrow paths between stacks of records and a piano that sat in the middle of the living room. A Victorian armchair was where Jetton would sit and watch her 18-inch black-and-white TV. Even her Day-Glo-hued clothing was organized on color-coded hangers.

She turned a spare room into an office, with a desk and stacks of list-filled tablets, alphabetized and written in perfect penmanship. She had a wooden pointer stick, magnifying glasses and fluorescent-colored tabs to categorize and organize her lists.

But for all her organizational skills and physical energy, the brain damage Jetton suffered as a child presented challenges that would have made it impossible for her to hold down an office job, Hand says.

“It wasn’t easy all the time,” Hand says. “She had a one-track mind, and you could not interrupt her. If you did, it was chaos. She had to keep on that thought process until whatever she was thinking about was through.

“But she was so smart about so many things.”