Jennie Marie Spellman was born on June 12, 1932 in the Alvin Community north of Laird, Colorado. She passed away on March 15, 2022 from natural causes (not Covid-19) at Poudre Valley Hospital in Ft. Collins, Colorado.
Her Parents, Bud and Lois (Richards) Spellman were farmers and ranchers on sandy and hilly soil. They somehow managed to wedge their fourth child Jennie, along with their three prior children and four more yet to come, into a small five-room concrete house. The house had no electricity, no central heat, no air-conditioning, no indoor plumbing, and no spacious bedrooms.
Jennie had a wonderful, happy childhood on the farm despite the Great Depression and World War II. Her mother, Lois, was pressed into service teaching school during the war years in addition to caring for Jennie and her siblings. Jennie walked to the one-room schoolhouse, and after school stopped on the way home for a sugar cookie with her Grandma Spellman who lived nearby.
A very shy child, Jennie remembered her mother pinning a note to her shirt when sending her on errands to the Alvin store, where she accomplished the task while never uttering a word. The weekly highlight was her parents’ Saturday trip into Wray, leaving the unsupervised children home alone. Good times were had, but no secrets were ever revealed!
Jennie graduated from Wray High School in 1951. During High School, she stayed in town during the week with two siblings, often visiting her nearby and namesake Grandmother Jennie Richards’ home on Railroad Avenue.
After graduation, she was instantly corralled by a Yuma sandhiller, Cleo Brown. They were married on her nineteenth birthday in 1951. Cleo and Jennie moved to the Brown family homestead southeast of Yuma and began a life of farming, ranching and starting a family.
As collaborative partners working together, they were successful in all those endeavors, moving quickly from picking corn by hand to mechanized farming methods. Very early adoption of modern irrigation boosted their farm production soon after moving to a farm south of Schramm in 1960. Jennie’s cherished chicken flock grew bigger in the new location as well. And along the way they had four children together, Donald in 1954, Duane in 1956, Carolyn in 1959, and Elaine in 1962.
A couple of moves later found them in the mid-1980s in the home Jennie occupied the rest of her life. She loved her independence and managed to stay there until the very end.
Widowed by a tragic farm accident in 1993 at the age of 61, Jennie began a new phase of her life. She took up golf and, as a naturally gifted athlete, played for the next 25 years. Jennie said the game was just for fun but deep down she always wanted to win!
She continued on farming and ranching too. Don and Peggy kept her busy fixing fence in springtime, working with cattle in the summer, and driving trucks during corn harvest in the fall. At age 78, Jennie drove a semi-truck for the first time. Scary but no accidents.
Grandchildren also became a big part of her focus. Jennie never missed an opportunity to be with them. Driver training in the pastures while checking cattle, cooking lessons in her kitchen, playing card and dice games, practicing baseball and golf in the backyard, watching sport competitions, and many more grandchildren activities consumed her time. During holidays and other reunions, the house was filled with the sound of galloping grandchildren, who would boldly declare when chided by their parents that “the only rule at Grandma’s house is that we have fun”.
Travel became a passion. She toured England, Mexico, Alaska, New Zealand, Australia, and China, usually along with family members. Jennie visited many cities and states in the continental United States as well, often with the Bank of Colorado travel program.
Always throughout her adult life she grew a big kitchen garden, canning and preserving its produce. And, for color and joy, patches of flowers here and there. Marigolds and morning glories were special favorites.
Church was another constant – Jennie was a fifty-year member of the Yuma Methodist Church, which was also the church of her beloved mother-in-law, Thelma Brown. Jennie had many, many very dear church friends and she loved teaching children Sunday School.
Jennie is survived by son Donald and wife Peggy of Yuma and three grandchildren, Tyson (wife Lisa), Sabrina, and Alex (wife Gretta); by son Duane and wife Pilar of Yuma and four grandchildren, Elizabeth (husband Francesco), Andrew, Deacon and Damian; by daughter Carolyn Killingsworth and husband Mike of Loveland and two grandchildren, Amy and Emily (fiancé Mike); and daughter Elaine Bejcek and husband Kent of Ft. Collins and two grandchildren, Mark and Ryan. She is also survived by four great-grandchildren, Max, Mya, and Noah Brown of Yuma and Hailey Paige Brown of Denver; along with brother Ralph Spellman of Yuma, sister Minnie Schmidt of Haxtun, brother Tom Spellman of Yuma, and sister Peggy Spellman of Wray, plus a host of other relatives and friends.
Jennie was preceded in death by husband Cleo Brown, parents Bud and Lois Spellman, parents-in-law Albert and Thelma Brown, sister Dorothy Schmidt, brother George Spellman, and brother Robert Spellman.
A visitation was held on Tuesday, March 22; the funeral service was at the Yuma Methodist Church on Wednesday, March 23, followed by interment at the Yuma Cemetery. Baucke Funeral Home was in charge of the arrangements.
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