Obituary: Melissa Lee (Monahan) Jankovsky
March 25, 1955 – January 1, 2021
Born in Sterling, CO to Rex William Monahan and Doris Leah Lafler, Melissa was the third of four children (siblings Susan, Kathleen, and Bill). Her mother would often jokingly say that Melissa “raised herself” – a testament to the quiet strength, contentment, and independence that she espoused from an early age. Her ability to find splendor and positivity in people and nature was also an early characteristic that endured throughout her life. Though she would ultimately find her home in the mountains, she saw immense beauty in the rolling fields and dramatic thunderstorms of Northeastern Colorado where she grew up.
Melissa graduated from Sterling High School in 1973. Naturally athletic and a lover of good music, she participated in dance and cheerleading. Her love of and aptitude for languages led her to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. Eager to experience new cultures and immerse herself in the Spanish language, Melissa also studied in Xalapa, Mexico and Seville, Spain.
During a visit home following college, Melissa met Rob Jankovsky (also from Sterling), who became her loving partner in life, family, and adventure for the next 42 years. They lived together in Silverthorne, CO and were married in 1983. Seeking a longer summer season and having long enjoyed the Hot Springs, Melissa and Rob moved to Glenwood Springs in 1985, shortly after the birth of their first daughter, Tess. Their second daughter, Molly, joined and completed their family in 1987.
Being a mother meant the world to Melissa. She was a constant and unwavering pillar in her daughters’ lives. As a mother, she modeled and cultivated strength, compassion, and unconditional love. While she had many interests in her life, family always came first for Melissa. In the last year of her life, the arrival of her granddaughter, Adeline, brought her immeasurable joy.
With an artistic eye and an appreciation for beauty of all forms, Melissa loved to create and express herself through art. She owned a folk art and clothing boutique in Summit County and continued to create in a myriad of ways. From whimsical pottery, to intricately-painted Ukrainian eggs, to thoughtfully-crafted gifts and cards, she always found ways to share beauty with those she loved.
After moving to Glenwood, Melissa’s career centered around her language skills and commitment to community, ranging from teaching of English language learners in the Roaring Fork School District to interpreting and translating for various organizations throughout the valley. She was particularly passionate about her work interpreting for nurses and Spanish-speaking mothers through the Nurse Family Partnership and went on to volunteer on their board after retirement.
Melissa continued to invest in the community that she loved by volunteering as a tutor for Spanish-speaking students seeking their GEDs. Along with her siblings, Melissa and Rob maintained the Monahan Second-Chance Academy, a program that provides inmates at the Sterling Correctional Facility with the opportunity to obtain an Associates degree. She and Rob also established a local high school scholarship and contributed to many other nonprofits in the valley.
Melissa was driven and passionate about exercise and adventure. She could be seen almost daily in the lap lanes at the Hot Springs pool and enjoyed biking, hiking, and skiing with family and friends. As an adult, she discovered a love for triathlons and competed in numerous races both locally and in the Front Range. She also loved to see new places and enjoyed nothing more than combining travel and fitness; after retirement, she and Rob biked through Croatia, Italy, France, and the Carolinas. Traveling as a family to Ecuador and the Galapagos in 2019, Melissa and her family were grateful to have had such a special and memorable adventure together while Melissa was in good health. Though she appreciated traveling abroad, Melissa could find beauty and wonder in the simplest hike or camping trip.
As her sister, Susan, so eloquently described, Melissa was a perfect example of how to live a worthwhile life. While her life was cut short by brain cancer, she filled every moment with love, compassion, adventure, and drive. She believed in focusing on what is good, showing care and generosity to others, and dancing whenever music is played. For Melissa, nothing was more important than family. While heartbroken that she is no longer with them, her family and friends strive to live a life that honors the values and qualities that Melissa so beautifully embodied.
A celebration of a life well lived will be held later in the year when it is safer to gather. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Family Visitor Program (https://www.familyvisitor.org/).
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