Poorer for her absence, but richer for her visit, this world lost Jean LaVon (Weare) Barthell on February 23rd, 2017. Her journey ended in Moses Lake, WA, with grace, humor, courage and pioneer grit even in the midst of a breathless struggle. Jean was 83 but would have denied it.
She took her first breath in Denver, CO, on January 30, 1934, under the welcoming gaze of her parents, Walter Boyd Weare and Alice Sydney Haight. She grew to form in Denver and in small towns and ranches on the east slopes of the mighty Rockies, graduating from Bear Creek High School near Morrison, CO, in 1951. She explored the new world astride her formidable Arabian stallion, Ghazal, and from the purring comfort of her father’s Hudson sedans. Jean received a diploma from Parks School of Business in Denver, CO, and then attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, earning a BA in English Literature in 1957, with a minor in French.
Jean’s working life included many proud years as a paralegal, teacher, writer of radio and newspaper advertising, producer and broadcaster of classical music radio programming, and support staff at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant. She achieved great success in her advertising work, winning numerous awards from local, state and national organizations, including the National Federation of Press Women. Married to Robert Barthell, she made homes in Colorado in Denver, Aurora and Greeley; in Montana in Opheim and Dillon; in Powell, Wyoming; and in Detroit, Michigan and Halifax, Nova Scotia. She returned to Boulder in later years, followed by Oceanside, CA, and Newport, OR.
It is said that we know someone best by the things she loves and by the gifts she bears. Jean was a resolute Romantic, passionate about the life of the mind and soul, the wonder and supremacy of creativity, and the hope and potential inherent in the future. She loved the beauty of this earth, the peaks of the Flatirons becoming her totem. Literature, painting, theatre and, above all, symphonic music fed her soul. Jean loved all things French, as a sensible person must, inspiring her to change her nom préféré to “Jeanne Marie”. Being firmly feline in nature, she adored cats, and was a member in good standing of the Paris Cat Club. Chocolate, and pie and ice cream in correct proportion, were rightly consumed with gusto. She brought to others a sharp and educated wit, a ready laugh and smile, copious charm, and a fierce allegiance to principle. Those left to testify to her loves and gifts include her brother, Burdette (and Juanita) Weare; her sister, Shimla (Weare) (and Joe) Basile; her children, Gregory Bear, John (and Denise) Barthell, Heather (and Randy) Barthell, and Aleta (and Bill) Barthell; her grandchildren, Ethan, Grayson, Kaitlyn, Ben and Jacaranda; her step-grandchildren, Candice, Jeffrey, Courtney and Allison; her step-great-grandchildren, Lily, Domenic, Lochlan, Aria, Walker and one in the oven; and the myriad of persons inevitably touched in unmeasured ways.
In the end, time, space and memory come unmoored and realign as the heart would wish. In her quiet room, dear Jeanne Marie often found herself once again astride her wandering stallion, reading aloud a beloved book from the saddle under the warm sun, glancing up to a piercing blue sky and animate clouds, rhythmic motion eclipsing mere destination, her breathing easy and deep. Please, may it ever be so.
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