Obituary: Jeannine Ford Artaz
May 22, 1929 – April 22, 2023
Jeannine Ford Artaz said her final ‘Shalom’ as she passed into heaven on Saturday, April 22, 2023 (one month before her 94th Birthday). She was 93 years old.
Fondly remembered as Miss Jenny of Romper Room, her life touched so many people across many different paths.
Born Virginia Mae Jeannine Ford, she preferred to go by Jeannine or Jenny to friends from her youth. Jeannine became the only child to parents Vola Helen Latham Ford and Grady Carlton Ford in San Antonio, TX, when her twin brother Vernon died at birth. She grew up traveling the world as her father was in the Army Air Corp.
Jeannine’s family legacy is made up of surviving children Sandy Crabtree, (Sandi) Artaz, Danny (Connie) Artaz, Bonnie (Carl) Waynick, Vola (Lee) Mercer, Ginger Watts, Honey (Rick) Johnson, Carl (Cristy) Artaz, Grady (Susan) Artaz, Marlene (Mark) Halstead, and Suzanne Shelledy. Also surviving are 36 grandchildren, 57 great grandchildren, 5 great-great grandchildren. She is also survived by the only siblings she knew, the surviving 3 of 10 siblings of her late husband Souvenir (Bob) Artaz, Hank Artaz, Betty Stewart, and Evelyn Harper and many nieces, nephews, and their extended families, as well. She was preceded in death by her late husband, Souvenir James (Bob or ‘Doc’) Artaz, children Bobbie Gene Artaz, Cheri Belyeu, Dana Gustine and grandchildren Reuel Reed Harris and Shawn Lancaster.
Jeannine grew up during WWII and at 12 years old her father was stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed by the Japanese. She and her mother went straight to the infirmary to help with the wounded and young Jeannine Ford was left to observe the chaos and roll bandages. Maybe this experience contributed to her curious nature and desire to help and serve through the rest of her life.
Jeannine Ford graduated from Rantoul High School in San Antonio, TX in 1949. She discovered radio broadcasting on the High School Radio Show, and it stuck. For the next 70 years you would see her working in television and radio.
Jeannine moved to Denver in the mid-1950’s and worked as the Butternut Weather Girl on Channel 2, as a television journalist for Channel 9, and as Miss Jenny of the Denver syndicate of Romper Room.
She moved with four of her children (ages newborn to 5) as a single mom in 1965, to Thomasville, CO to work as the secretary on the Reudi Dam project on the Frying Pan River, and soon after moved to Glenwood Springs for the children to start school.
It was at the non-denominational church in Glenwood Springs with her four children next to her that she met the love of her life, Souvenir James (Bob) Artaz. He already had 6 of his own children who were already grown or nearly out of school. Jeannine and Bob (known to many as “Doc”) were married on January 24, 1968, and blended their families into one.
Having grown up as a “Military Brat” as Mother would say, she never had roots, community, or close friends and very little family. Her parents had died by the time she came to Colorado.
Landing in Glenwood Springs fixed all of that. She now was part of a ‘Village’. Her saying was always, “This town has given us so much, it is our duty to give back.” And that she did.
She was a DJ on KGLN and KMTS serving the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys, and finally created her own “Mountain Living” local Cable 12 TV show bringing community interest features into your home, which she offered until well into her 80’s.
Jeannine lived her patriotism proudly volunteering as Election Judge every election year. She volunteered as a 4-H sewing instructor, Girl Scout leader, Cub Scout leader, and as a Pink Lady with the Valley View Hospital Auxiliary. And let’s not forget her annual haunted house as an MS fundraiser; she was not one to do anything halfway!
It was not unusual to wake with extra people standing in line outside the bathroom as Bob and Jeannine always made their home a haven for the stranded traveler who was rescued by Bob’s tow truck during the night. They were both grandparents to many beyond their own; Jeannine was known as Grandma Nene by the children in her neighborhood (Miss Jenny was alive and well). 1976-1977 Bob and Jeannine hosted not one, but two, exchange students, Alfonso Saldana from Mexico City and Hugo Andrade from Ecuador, and many guests from Up with People and Drums Along the Rockies, and more.
Jeannine was a gifted dress designer and artist. She designed many wedding ensembles. One of her cherished was her hot pants wedding ensemble as the grand finale for the Glenwood Welcome Fashion Show in 1972. The unusual wedding ensemble gained some national attention. She kept the local theater groups and high school productions costumed for all their performances. As she did the baton twirlers for all their competitions. She loved all the people and students she met.
She loved announcing the annual swim and dive meets in Glenwood and Aspen.
Her great passion was covering the Strawberry Days Parade with her dear friend and cameraman, Paul Vandre. It was her intent to bring the local Strawberry Days Festival into the homes of those who could no longer go out to enjoy it in person.
What you may not know is that for many years Jeannine collected clothes for the Native Americans on the New Mexico reservations and partnered with RAC Transport to ship. The letters of gratitude we found from those who benefited from these gifts are so heartwarming.
In her later years she worked at Farnum-Holt Mortuary where she made true connections and offered love and support to those who lost their loved ones. Again, the notes of gratitude we have found of the lives she touched bringing light and love at a most difficult time are cherished memories.
Jeannine Ford Artaz was a small and mighty woman. She was filled with love, belief, beauty, charm, grace, intelligence, compassion, and the biggest heart anywhere around.
Memorial services are scheduled for Saturday, May 20, 2023, 11:00 am at Mountain View Church, 2195 Co Rd 154, Glenwood Springs, CO, 81601. Pastor Dave Pearson will be presiding. A livestream option will also be available.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Valley View Hospital Foundation Cardiac Center, Alzheimer’s Association, or a charity of your choice in Jeannine’s honor.
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