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,, or PO Box 485, Etna, NH 03750

9 thoughts on “Joanne Tubbs Kelly”

  1. I am so very sorry to end out about Joanne’s passing. She was part of a group of 6 She Writes Press memoirists and we met biweekly for over a year to support each other in our publishing journey. It was wonderful to know Joanne and to see her commitment and passion about the cause of medical-aid-in-dying. Her memoir was a beautiful, moving love story that deserves to be read and shared by many. Our small group will make a contribution in her honor and always keep her in our hearts. She’s with her beloved Alan now.

  2. What a huge loss to the family and the world. Joanne was a lovely person with a great passion she pursued with great determination. I had great hopes of spending time with Joanne in the spring as did all of her Virginia cousins. We are deeply saddened by this loss.

  3. I am stunned and saddened to learn that Joanne has died. As one of the memooir writers in our small group of 6, she was sure-footed, open-hearted, and eager to share her experience surrounding Alan’s death with others. Her book is lovely.
    I had a chance to spend most of a day with her in Boulder when I visited family in Colorado, and we bonded….she called me her sister!
    We shared joy, sorrow, news. She made a delicious lunch before the garden tour, and was the best kind of new friend in every way. I am sending a hug to all of her family, who I feel I got to meet through her book, and a visit to the place where all of you memorialized Alan.
    With a heavy heart, and gratitude for all that Joanne shared in my brief time of knowing her,
    Annie Chappell

  4. I am so saddened to hear of this unexpected and sudden death of this amazing woman who to me, and I’m certain many others, was an angel here on Earth. She and Alan were very special to me. I met them at Columbine Unity in Boulder. Alan was my handyman for my townhome and my rental home before he retired. He always had a contagious smile and wild sense of humor. I worked with them on the Board at NAMI and the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness. Joanne and I made a video together to help clergy learn about suicide prevention and she was a staunch advocate for people and families who suffered from mental illness. She was also my own personal angel on multiple occasions. After my cancer treatment I was drowning in medical debt. The stress is like no other. Joanne had a sister who had struggled with cancer and she offered me her support. Joanne loaned me money to help navigate that medical debt and allowed me to pay her back slowly over time as I could. When I had to leave my home and move an hour away she made that long drive to come and visit me and to make sure I had rides when needed. Then in 2020 before the pandemic I was having more health problems that impacted my memory and cognitive functioning and somehow mixed up the date for Alan’s celebration of Life. I was confused and distraught. Over the next several months my condition deteriorated and the world went crazy with the pandemic. Joanne was an Angel once again sending me a card with words of encouragement and this time a gift of much welcomed financial support in the midst of her own mourning of dear Alan. I was so excited for her recent success with her book and in one of her last social media posts she talked about laughing so much and giggling on her book tour. Another post was all about embracing the Joy of each moment. The joy just radiates out from her photo above and that is how I will always remember this kind soul after the grieving. Right now I am immersed in the sadness and shock. Sending love and peace to her family and closest friends and a big hug to all of us reeling from this sudden loss.

  5. A woman who made a difference in the lives of those, fortune to know her. Joanne, will fondly be remembered….always.

  6. I’m so sorry to learn of Joann’s passing. Her book is on my must read list. She brought a lot of love and light to the world and will be missed.

  7. I was strengthened and blessed by knowing Joanne and feel much sorrow about her passing. I served on the board with Joanne of the organization she worked hard to co-found and expand: Interfaith Network for Mental Illness (INMI). Joanne believed deeply and passionately that people living with mental illness should be welcomed, supported, and included in places of worship, no matter the denomination – and knew this was often not the case. Her tireless work for people with challenges, as well as her work making changes in the systems that supposedly serve them, was ardent and impressive. Joanne was someone you wanted on your side: she never gave up caring and putting that care into into action, even when bearing the heat of the day. How fortunate Boulder was to have her influence, and I to have known and walked with her.

  8. Rest in Peace my beautiful friend. Since our brief time together in 1966, you have had a special place in my mind and in my heart. You were a beautiful woman and an even more beautiful person. The Association’s song – CHERISH – always brings memories of you. Ed Syron

  9. A neighbor of Joanne’s shared her book with me. I was so impressed with the frank way in which she wrote about Alan’s dying and death. I contacted her and she agreed to speak to a group that shared our mutual interest in medical-aid-in-dying. In a move that I am learning is typical of Joanne, she invited me over for lunch. We talked about so many topics, sharing our grief over the deaths of our adult children. Joanne, you were a gift to this world. So sorry you are gone.

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