December 21, 1922 ~ July 1, 2019
Born in: Oakland, NE
Resided in: Denver, CO
Jean Ann Kerl O’Donnell, of Denver and Grand Lake, passed away peacefully July 1, 2019. Possessed of keen intelligence, steadfast loyalty and ever-present elegance, Jean was born December 21, 1922, in Oakland, Nebraska. She is predeceased by her husband, Bryant O’Donnell, as well as by her mother, Anna Renard Kerl, and father, Irving Kerl, brother, Thomas Kerl, and sister, Mary Agnes Kerl Lowe. She grew up during the Great Depression and retained an indelible appreciation for fiscal responsibility and resourcefulness in making due for the rest of her 96+ years. She graduated with a degree in Chemistry from the University of Nebraska where she was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority. Upon graduation, she was recruited to decipher enemy war codes during World War II, and thereafter became a United Airlines stewardess, based in Denver. It was there she met, and later married, her husband Bryant, with whom she had six children. They were married 37 years at the time of his death in 1990. Once her children were raised, Jean worked for many years in the Activities department of the Park Place retirement community in Denver. Among her many duties was teaching water aerobics to the residents. She is survived by her children: Dorothy O’Donnell Starkey (Bob), Barbara O’Donnell Ingalls (Greg), Margaret A. O’Donnell, Thomas R. O’Donnell, Kathryn O’Donnell Gibson (Channing), and William B. O’Donnell. Also by five grandchildren: Allison, Benjamin (Molly), and Jackson Ingalls, Susannah Starkey, Reed and Riley Gibson; and a great granddaughter, Eleanor Ingalls. Jean was the rudder of the family, keeping everyone aimed at true north. She was resolute in instilling in her children the importance of earning and preserving the trust of others, doing what is right, not what is easy, and setting a high standard for one’s self. And she set this example with selflessness, grace and fortitude, strengthened by a subtle wit and the willingness to listen. Her children remember her most in later years for her quiet and unassuming leadership of the family. And they remember her with a smile when they recall their childhood and listening for her most unique whistle that called them home from scattered corners of the neighborhood on late summer evenings. She will be laid to rest next to her husband at a later date during a private family graveside service in Grand Lake, Colorado.