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Janice R. Neleigh

1927 - 2018
Janice R. Neleigh Obituary
Janice R Neleigh's spirit, left the confines of her mortal body, at 9:02pm, on August 6, 2018 at her room in Evenings Porch Assisted Living. Cremation followed her death. Janice "Jan" was born on December 20th, 1927, the third child of Clyde A and Bessie M Hoover, in Zumbro Falls, MN. The depression years shaped Jan's life in a positive way. Watching her parents, who had very little, share, care and give to anyone who had a greater need, gave Jan a wonderful life lesson about non-judgmental respect and love for all of God's creations.

Jan was valedictorian in high school but was truly a student for life with job training and various college courses. Her diverse education allowed her to have careers as a medical technician and mental health researcher, before moving to Southwest Colorado where she would best be known for owning April Flowers in Durango, before serving on the La Plata County Planning Commission. One attorney friend commented that she was usually the "smartest person in the room" at many public meetings. She disagreed saying she was just the most prepared. Jan listened to every voice with respect and visited every land use proposal with her own clear eyes. Jan was not only a political force but also a leader in Bible study and Stephen's ministry. However, she was most comfortable at her ranch in Bayfield for many years, irrigating or using her tractor / ATV. She loved pets and wild animals. Through the years she observed a large variety of animals including bears, bobcats, badgers and several mountain lions. She did not fear them but held them in healthy respect. Jan was never bored, filling her days with gardening, bird watching, archeology, social action activities, mental health counseling techniques, Sudoku, the Great Courses, Mindfulness and current events. She was still learning and observing even as she was in her final hours as she noted changes in her physical sensations, when she could no longer discern whose hand she was holding without opening her eyes. She envisioned herself rising towards the clouds at one point, but felt that by her own will she had returned to say goodbye to loved ones first.

Jan influenced many individuals in her life. She was a mentor, motivator, counselor, and educator to friends of all ages. She never gave up the desire to learn or to share knowledge. Jan was teaching gardening techniques only two days before her death. She was also determined to pass on ideas about the book she wanted to write concerning senior care and the fact that senior care ideas should be formulated from seniors, and not dictated to seniors by younger people's perceptions of what elders "should" want. Until the final hours her sense of humor remained. Visitors who asked how she was doing in her final week were told with a smile "Well I'm dying but other than that, pretty good."

Jan's Christian faith did not require a funeral service to transport her soul. At her personal request, no funeral, or celebrations of life will be held. She hoped you will just enjoy your memories. Jan's life was enriched throughout by special friends some of whom shared their feelings below.

"Laughter was always a big part of our time together, and I'm going to miss her light-hearted ability to find humor in almost any situation. She was especially gifted at laughing at herself and helping me take myself a little less seriously. My teen years were definitely a lot less dramatic and more fun thanks to her insight and gift of laughter! She enriched my life, treated me as an equal, never judged me, forgave my many faults, counseled me on many occasions, and helped me to look at life from another perspective."

"She was such a special lady who was like a second mother to me. It was so much fun working for her, although it never felt like work. Her zest for life was infectious and made me want to accomplish even a portion of the things she did. The world is a better place because she was here!"

"Jan's willingness to learn new things coupled with her wonderful talent for educating others (me) without dampening their own direction, her courage with pain, her interest in other people's stories and needs. Very much of myself is composed of things I learned from Jan and I believe that there are several other people who would say the same."

Jan is survived by her son Lee J McCutchen and step children James E Neleigh, David W Neleigh, Judy Mayo. Jan is also survived by her Grandson Kyle L McCutchen and Kyle's daughter, Sydney R McCutchen.
Published in The Durango Herald on Aug. 16, 2018
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