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1961 - 2012 |
1961 - 2012
Jeannine passed away peacefully on July 3, 2012 with family by her side. She was born on July 20, 1961, the second child of Salvatore and the late Patricia Balsamo (nee Dorynek). She leaves behind Julie Ehlers, her life partner and soul-mate, her 7 year old step-daughter, Victoria Ehlers-Autobee, her father Salvatore, sisters Mary Alice Balsamo (Isabella Wilson) and Sally Balsamo (David Jagielski), brother Tory, nephews Ian and Dante Wilson as well as a loving extended family and the multitude of friends she made across the country and around the world. Born in Chicago, Jeannine received a Bachelor's of Science degree in Geology from
University of Illinois
and an MBA in Real Estate from the University of Wisconsin. She then moved to Denver, which would become her adopted home for over twenty years. Her professional success includes working as a Principal at The Townsend Group, Real Estate Asset Manager at Denver Public Schools, Vice President at Equitable Investments, and most notably, directing the redevelopment of Stapleton Airport in Denver. Although she attained these successes, it was the way that Jeannine lived her life that was truly her greatest achievement. With childlike wonder, and enviable courage, Jeannine traveled the world, visiting places such as China, Africa, Scotland, Peru, and Russia. She summited Kilimanjaro as part of the 25 person exhibition to raise awareness for breast cancer; climbed Mount Everest base camp, and Machu Picchu. Jeannine was honored to carry the
torch in Denver (2002) for her charity work for breast cancer awareness. She also participated in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics held in Atlanta and Salt Lake City. She brought much-needed love and supplies to children in orphanages in Africa and South America and spent unselfish hours volunteering at The Little Sisters of the Poor where she brought many moments of joy to the residents. A passionate photographer, Jeannine was always seeing the soul of her subjects and changing worldviews through the lens. She was known for sending little gifts, "just because", remembering every obscure holiday, and always making her own greeting cards, carefully selecting just the right photo from her portfolio along with a sentimental quote from noted people throughout the world. With her many blessings also came many challenges. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30 and approached this with a sense of grace and positivity that was remarkable to all who knew her. Years after remission, she was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer at the age of 48. She managed to keep her strength, humor, and dignity until the very end. Jeannine laughed often, let her curiosity be her guide and taught all who knew her innumerable lessons of what it is to be generous, wise, funny and heroic. She truly lived her life in the spirit of her favorite poet's expression, "nothing is worth more than this day," (Goethe).
Memorial Services are planned for July 20, 2012: Mile Hi Church; 2:30 p.m. 9077 W. Alameda Avenue, Lakewood, CO (Denver). In lieu of flowers, it was Jeannine's wish that donations be made to: Little Sisters of the Poor - Mullen Home for the Aged, 3629 W. 29th Ave., Denver, CO, 80211. Ph: 303-433-7221.
Published in Denver Post on July 8, 2012
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