Joanne Tubbs Kelly, a loving grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, friend, neighbor, mentor and inspiration to many, passed away on December 16, 2022. Joanne was born February 26th, 1951 to Frederick B. Tubbs and Margaret Ross Tubbs in an army camp in Kentucky, the second oldest of four children. The family later moved to Oneonta, New York, where Joanne graduated from Oneonta High School. She then graduated from Empire State College with a degree in fine art, and an undergraduate degree in ceramics.
Joanne had two children; Joshua in 1973 and Sarah in 1977. She moved to Colorado in 1985 and settled in Boulder, where she found her home and spiritual center, in 1990. In 1997, Joanne married her best friend, Alan Kelly. The two embarked on many great journeys, including opening a restaurant, remodeling homes, hiking to Machu Picchu, and exploring the mountains of Colorado, the vineyards of Tuscany and the beaches of Belize and Mexico together. They were both members of Columbine Unity Church.
Joanne spent most of her career working as a freelance writer, producing marketing materials for high-tech companies. She was president of the board of directors for Colorado’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness for several years and co-founded a non-profit organization, Interfaith Network on Mental Illness, that focused on providing training for clergy members caring for mentally ill members of their flocks.
Joanne retired in 2015 and spent the next several years enjoying time with the love of her life, Alan. When she lost Alan to Multiple System Atrophy in 2020, Joanne’s profound grief catalyzed first into motivation, then action. Shortly after the loss of her beloved husband, Joanne wrote her memoir of their journey together. “Walking Him Home: Helping My Husband Die with Dignity” was published on August 9, 2022. Joanne spent the past several months promoting her book across the country, speaking to legislators, terminally ill patients and caregivers and assisting various organizations in their efforts to advance end-of-life choice, specifically concentrating her efforts to pass New York’s pending Medical Aid in Dying Act. She recently founded a non-profit organization intended to provide information about end-of-life options.
Joanne cherished time in her garden, puttering and planting and pruning, and was proud to give The Tubbs Garden Tour and a few homegrown string beans or cukes to any visiting friend, neighbor or relative. She was happiest with dirt under her fingernails and freshly cut flowers on the table. Even after almost 40 years in Colorado, Joanne was regularly awestruck by views of the flatirons and spent many days soaking in the beauty on hikes and walks throughout her community. She loved to bake with her children and grandchildren and to cook exotic meals and decadent desserts with Alan. Joanne was a voracious reader, and by sharing her love of books with her kids, grandkids and great-nephew, Joanne helped to create multiple generations of avid readers and writers.
Joanne is survived by her daughter, Sarah Dufoe (Candace), her stepdaughters, Alexis Hamilton and Megan Brugger (Will) and grandchildren Francesca, Ethan, Kaitlyn, Alyssa, Olivia and Kayla. She is also survived by her brother Stephen Tubbs and nieces Erin Decker, Louise Oldenkamp (Mindy) and Annah Tubbs. She was predeceased by her parents, her brother Frederick B. Tubbs, III, her sister Carol Tubbs Devenir, her son Joshua Wetmore and her husband Alan Kelly.
A celebration of life will be held at 1:00 on Saturday, February 4, 2023 at Columbine Unity Spiritual Center, 8900 Arapahoe Road Boulder, CO 80303. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Joanne’s memory to Compassion & Choices, www.compassionandchoices.org, or PO Box 485, Etna, NH 03750