Jane Heinz was a child of the 60s, born Oct. 21, 1950. She grew up in Denver moving from several homes until her family settled at 617 Albion St. in time for her to start fifth grade at Steck Elementary School. Jane finished growing up on Albion Street, attending Hill Junior High School and George Washington High School.
Jane became a world traveler following her graduation from the University of Colorado in Boulder where she majored in history but also learned to speak Norwegian. From here, she went to Norway to work two separate years on farms, one of which is in the far north of Norway. Jane’s sense of spontaneity and adventure combined with her always-thorough preparation allowed her to track down distant relatives in Norway. From these introductions developed lifelong friendships. Jane kept in touch with her relatives not just in Norway but in North Dakota and Minnesota. In between jobs in Norway, Jane visited parts of Europe and Morocco.
This was only the beginning of Jane’s world travel adventures. She developed a love of Mexican history and culture, visiting many places in Mexico and bringing home art made by indigenous people. These trips were not solo journeys, but usually she would invite brothers, nieces and nephews to go with her as well as her mother. Jane visited one of her nieces in China while her niece and partner were spending a year in China teaching. Jane also prioritized visiting family members who lived out of state, as maintaining familial relationships was very important to her.
Denver and Colorado were always home. She loved hiking in the Rockies with her mother and brothers, looking for and identifying wild flowers. She often brought her nieces and nephews along on hikes as well. The history of Colorado was an interest and Jane could tell you a lot about Colorado’s pioneer days. She volunteered at historical Four Mile House. Nieces and nephews spent countless hours with Jane at her home, which was filled with her beautiful embroidery and treasures from her traveling adventures. There, they picked raspberries and made scones–or Scandanavian cookies for Christmas.
Jane loved animals, especially the ones she could get close to, which included horses, cats and dogs. Although the squirrel in her yard made her angry because it would dig up her bulbs, she could never harm it. Jane worked at the Denver Dumb Friends League which evolved into her long-term entrepreneurial career as co-owner of Pet Tenders. Her business led Jane to meet many of Denver’s citizens as she cared for their pets while they travelled. Jane had her own menagerie of pets which included at one time or another a beloved dog, cats, a rabbit, reptiles and an African Gray parrot named Rosie, who was very dear to her. Jane always made a point of taking in animals who might otherwise be difficult to adopt because of age or other reasons.
Fiercely independent and deeply thoughtful, Jane left many legacies among her friends and loved ones about how to live a well-considered life:
- Cats should live indoors, to protect them and the birds!
- Become a scarf person — it is both practical and beautiful, especially when traveling.
- Never, under any circumstance, check a bag when flying.
- Stories make things precious. Without stories, things are meaningless.
- Don’t waste — energy, water, or soy sauce packets.
- Seize the opportunity to do what you want to do. Take your vacation days!
- Weave family into the fabric of your life, in big and small ways.
While Jane travelled and cared for animals and found wildflowers, she was not unaware of her surroundings, reading and following the news of the day, listening especially to Colorado Public Radio while driving between clients. Jane was active in progressive politics, participating in the Women’s March in Denver and the teachers’ protest/strike for better working conditions for teachers in Denver. She was a loyal friend and generous neighbor. Jane was very loved and will be greatly missed.
Please share your memories of Jane in the comments. Jane’s family wishes they could meet all her loved ones at a memorial. Given that one cannot be held at this time, they would be grateful to hear others’ thoughts and memories.