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Obituary: Janie Kelly Nov. 17, 1937 – Nov. 19, 2019

on November 25, 2019 - 3:33pm

JANIE KELLY Nov. 17, 1937 – Nov. 19, 2019

Janie Kelly, age 82, died Tuesday, November 19, 2019 in Albuquerque where she had lived since January. She was in the company of family as she finalized her life and accepted her angel wings.

Janie Lee was born November 17, 1937 to Elizabeth and Wesson Burrow in La Junta, CO and spent her early childhood on the southeastern Colorado range in the little town of Kim. Her father was killed while piloting his small plane in 1946, and approximately two years later she moved to Los Alamos, NM, where her new stepfather worked for the Zia Company. She graduated with the LAHS class of 1955, having been a good student and a baton-twirling majorette with the marching band. She attended University of Colorado for a short while, then married Mike Kelly, settled in Los Alamos and gave birth to a baby girl Kathy.

In 1963 Janie took a job as a teletype operator for the Purchasing Department at Sandia Laboratory to support her family while her husband attended University of New Mexico. After his graduation they returned to Los Alamos and she devoted herself to being a homemaker and raising her daughter before returning to work at LANL, where she spent 30 years as an Administrator. Her career included positions with both operational and R&D groups, and eventually with the Director’s Planning & Analysis Staff and the Nuclear Weapons Associate Director’s Office. Her organization skills, polish, and sense of humor served her well.

Janie was a stable and positive person, the glue that held things together when people needed support. And she was a lot of fun! Her sweet, benevolent, nurturing qualities were complemented by her quick humor and independence. She cared deeply for her family and wanted them to be happy; with them she learned to hunt and ski and drive the old Willys jeep. During the college years they liked going to basketball games. Summer weekends were spent camping and water skiing at New Mexico lakes with friends and in-laws, and of course the dog. Times were good. 

Home and garden were central in Janie’s life. The prairie practices of previous generations became her own. She sewed, crafted, and canned. She made ballet costumes and school dresses. She baked cobbler and arranged alter flowers. She grew bumper crops of tomatoes, and oh, all those raspberries!

When her marriage ended in 1982 Janie remained in her home and cared for the property proactively for more than three decades. It’s canyon-rim location served as a perpetual invitation for wildlife coming by to raid the bird feeders or check out the 6-foot carved bear that stood beside a pine tree in the gardens. Her house was tasteful and cozy, with a wardrobe of tablecloths hanging ready in the closet and creative touches in every room for every season. She cherished her antique family dishes and vintage glassware and jewelry. At Christmastime her extensive Santa Claus collection was on display, and angels were staged strategically throughout. She enjoyed it thoroughly, as did guests welcomed there.

What Janie cherished most were her friends. The numerous friendships she formed, from as early as elementary school, stayed intact her entire lifetime. She found goodness in every person and accepted and appreciated them for who they were. Her warmth, style, and spark touched many. After retirement she traveled regularly with friends and the bonds grew stronger. 

Janie was a Past Worthy Matron and 50-year member of the Order of the Eastern Star (OES) Chapter #63, a member of PEO AK Chapter, a member of the United Church of Los Alamos, a Master Gardener, and Past President of the Summit Garden Club.

She is survived by her daughter, Kathy and partner, Barton Burson; her brother, Dewitt Burrow and wife, Norma, and two nieces. The family is extremely grateful for the support and care provided by Janie’s in-home caregivers and the staff of the Los Alamos Senior Center Day Out Program, Pamilla Senior Living, and Heartland Hospice.

Cremation has taken place. A memorial and internment will be held in Los Alamos when spring flowers start to bloom. Donations in Janie’s name should be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.