Jo Ann (Jodie) Wright of Paonia Colorado passed away on January 9, 2021. She was 84. Jodie was born in Wheatland, Wyoming on April 24, 1936 to parents Claude Turney and Agnes (McGill) Turney. She spent her early years living on the historic McGill family ranch in Albany County, located 30 miles southwest of Wheatland. Jodie had many fond memories of her childhood on the ranch. She was educated by her mother in a one-room schoolhouse and loved her prized pony, Skippy, which she rode to school. Jodie later moved to Wheatland with her mother and grandfather, Thomas McGill, to attend high school. She graduated from Wheatland High School in 1954, and attended college for a semester at Colorado A&M University (now Colorado State University) in Fort Collins to study art. She returned to Wheatland to marry Harvey J. Wilhelm in the spring of 1955. They moved to Laramie where Harvey was enrolled in the College of Agriculture at the University of Wyoming. Their first son Chandler was born in Laramie in October of 1956. Harvey graduated from the university and began a career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which took him to many of Wyoming's rural communities. The family moved many times during these early years, including stops in Cheyenne, Rock Springs, Casper, and Wheatland. Their second son Quinn was born in July of 1958 during their time in Cheyenne.
Harvey made a career change in the spring of 1964 when he took a job with Denver Milk Producers (later Mountain Empire Dairyman's Association, or MEDA) in Denver, Colorado. This was a major move for the family as no interstate highway existed at that time to connect Harvey and Jodie with their extended family in rural Wyoming. The family moved several times while in Denver, initially living in an apartment in Lakewood and then in two different houses in Applewood. Jodie spent these years caring for her family and building a large network of friends. She also started the journey of her personal relationship with Jesus Christ that would guide her for the rest of her life. She became active at St. John Chrysostom Episcopal Church in Golden and also in the growing movement of evangelical nondenominational churches in Denver such as Redeemer Temple. She also began her lifelong relationship with the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, an ecumenical religious order founded in Darmstadt Germany soon after the Second World War. This relationship formed the basis of some of Jodie's most memorable journeys, taking her to Germany and to the Holy Land twice. Jodie also worked as an Activity Director at several Denver-based nursing homes, a calling which was well suited to her artistic skills and her great interest in helping the elderly. The family's happy existence was shattered in the fall of 1980 when Harvey died unexpectedly of pneumonia at the age of 47. Jodie endured 8 long years as a young widow, eventually returning to college to earn a nursing degree and becoming a Hospice Nurse at Lutheran Hospital in Wheat Ridge, where she was able to help scores of people in their final days.
Jodie's life took another turn in May of 1989 when she married Dr. W. Lloyd Wright of Golden. Like Jodie, Lloyd was a widower and a devout Christian. They initially moved to Arvada, but then decided to move again to the small town of Paonia in western Colorado where they believed that they were being called to serve their community and provide a refuge for those in need. They bought an historic 8 bedroom Sears craftsman kit house built circa 1910 and completely refurbished it. Jodie's artistic skills and sharp eye for decorating were put to good use, and the house became a landmark in the town. Jodie and Lloyd became active members of the Friends Church, and also served the broader community through many volunteer activities. Among these were participation in the global Christian missionary program Youth with a Mission (YWAM) that took them to China. They also served as volunteers to the House of Promise in Olathe that provided a place for young women with children to recover from their traumas and substance abuse to achieve a stable and promising future. They also provided a free basement apartment to many people in need of shelter. Jodie and Lloyd shared 27 blessed years together. Following Lloyd's passing in 2016 Jodie continued to live in her large 21-room house, but increasingly required support from an extended network of caregivers. Her health began to fail from dementia and physical infirmity, including a bout with esophageal cancer in 2017 that took her to the M.D. Anderson clinic in Houston for treatment. Her final days became increasingly difficult to manage at home due to advanced dementia and physical decline, and in October of 2020 she moved to a Memory Care facility in Grand Junction for more advanced care. She died peacefully in her sleep on January 9, 2021.
Jodie is survived by her sons Chandler T. Wilhelm of Houston Texas, and Quinn J. Wilhelm of Lakewood Colorado, her daughters-in-law Laura Wilhelm of Houston and Lu Ann Wilhelm of Lakewood, 6 direct grandchildren (Anna, Rachel, Alex, Katherine, Richard, and Bonnie) and 5 direct great-grandchildren (Memphis, James, Julian, Everly, and Grace). She is also survived by stepchildren Candace Olsen and her husband Roger Olsen of Arvada Colorado and Natalie Smith of Scottsdale Arizona. She is also survived by 21 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild through her marriage to Lloyd. Jodie was preceded in death by parents Claude Turney of Harrison Arkansas and Agnes McGill Turney of Wheatland Wyoming, and husbands Harvey J. Wilhelm and Dr. W. Lloyd Wright.
The family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary (9849 North 40th Street, Phoenix Arizona, 85028) or the Paonia Friends Church (409 3rd Street, Paonia Colorado, 81428).
A funeral service of Christian burial will be held on Saturday, January 23rd, at 1:00 p.m. at Calvary Episcopal Church in Golden, Colorado, which is the church where Jodie and Lloyd were married. Interment will follow at 2:30 at Crown Hill Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. All services will follow Colorado COVID-19 regulations to protect the health and safety of attendees and are necessarily by invitation only. A Celebration of Life memorial service will be held at the Paonia Friends Church, followed by a reception at the Wright house at 216 Poplar Avenue, later this Spring when the pandemic regulations will allow attendance from her many friends in western Colorado.
Published in Colorado Community Media on Jan. 20, 2021.