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.

In lieu of flowers, friends of Jane are invited to make a donation to the Denver Dumb Friends League or Colorado Public Radio.

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.

6 thoughts on “Jane Heinz”

  1. I met Jane in 1970 at college, living across the hallway from each other. We were great friends for many years after through college, travel, backgammon games, hikes and shared love of cats.
    Although we lost touch of each other I thought of her often w/ great fondness and happy memories.

  2. Jane was my friend and neighbor for 17 years. She will be greatly missed by those of us on Magnolia St.
    Rest In Peace, Jane.

  3. Jane, for 28 years you cared for and loved my dogs as if they were also your family. First Shayla and Konan, then Oreo and Phoebe. When I became very sick in 2015 you came to the hospital and were there for me. My only visitor. When we last spoke earlier this year, shortly after you had spoken with your doctor, I sensed your characteristic fire when you asked “can you believe this, after I’ve saved and worked and have so many plans to retire and travel!?” I called you a number of times afterwards, wanting to support you and be there for you like you were for me. When I didn’t hear back I backed off with respect and with love. Then a few weeks ago as I sat with Phoebe you came to my thoughts, and I had a bad feeling. Today I thought of you again, and so I tried calling and got the message that the number had been disconnected. With my heart in my throat I did an internet search and quickly found the obituary. I’m so sad and sorry. I told Phoebe and I can see she is too. I hope you’re in a better place. You were so good – your spirit always shined so bright through your dancing blue eyes. Thank you, my friend, and may you always soar through the clouds, time and space, forever. With love always, Jesús Vázquez.

  4. I also met Jane in 1970 at college, living just a couple doors around the corner from her. We have stayed in touch at least at every Christmas all these years. I always enjoyed hearing about her travels. I am going to really miss her. My condolences to her family especially to all of her nephews and nieces whom she always fondly talked about.

  5. Jane was an absolutely beautiful woman. She had striking Norwegian features and she never seemed to age, and she was deeply proud of her heritage. A smile that was electric and never phony – beautiful eyes that sparkled with clarity. Yet, her outward beauty was often eclipsed by her inward beauty. A heart so big it always had room for more. There was nothing false, fake or manipulative about Jane – she was as authentic as they come.

    I don’t know if she ever thought about it, but she was very Zen-like. Always in the moment, never hurrying, incapable of rushing, she was too busy enjoying life. She was an avid hiker and amateur botanist leading wildflower tours for the Botanic Gardens on occasion. And of course, she had a deep and profound love for animals. She was a lifetime learner with broad interests.

    Jane had strong moral values and lived her life by them. And, she wasn’t afraid to politely let someone know if what they were doing was wrong in her opinion. While many people today search for meaning in life, especially younger people as they have been told to explore their passions but given no instructions on how to do so – Jane never has this dilemma. That is because she had what the Greeks call telos – a moral sense of purpose. And her strong sense of purpose is what kept her on such an even keel. She never suffered debilitating setbacks when something went wrong as she always had a foundation to bounce back to. During the record breaking Christmas blizzard of 1982 when the city was shutdown to motorized traffic for days, Jane simply put on her cross country skis and made all of her scheduled Pet Tending visits.

    Jane had a large extended family that she deeply loved as she was deeply loved by them. I wish to extend my sincere condolences to her surviving family members.

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