Cover photo for Jean Ann Hobbs's Obituary
Jean Ann Hobbs Profile Photo
1943 Jean 2023

Jean Ann Hobbs

August 11, 1943 — December 19, 2023

Durango

Jean Ann Hobbs

Dec. 19, 2023

 

Jean Hobbs, of Durango, died peacefully from acute myocardial ischemia in the Memory Care Unit of Sunshine Gardens Assisted Living, approaching two years in residence. Jean and her husband Will were married December 20, 1972 at Brush Ranch School on the banks of the Pecos River near Tererro, New Mexico. On spring break in 1973, from the moment she laid eyes on them, Jean was drawn to the shining San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. Jean and Will found teaching jobs in Pagosa Springs, Jean teaching 1st grade at Pagosa Springs Elementary for four years in the mid-70s. They lived in Cabezon Canyon on the south side of Chimney Rock and raised dairy goats.

 

Relocating to the Durango area, Jean taught children with learning disabilities at Park and Mason, then 1st grade at Needham. Holding a teaching certificate from Cal Berkeley, Jean earned a Master’s in Special Education from Adams State. In the later 80s and early 90s, she was a realtor with Coldwell Banker in Durango. Jean had a third career representing husband Will as his literary agent and arranging his visits to schools and conferences around the country.

 

Jean was born in Minneapolis August 11, 1943, the first of the five children of Jack and Evelyn Loftus. Jean grew up in the small towns of Montgomery and Glencoe west of the Twin Cities. Jean graduated in 1965 from the College of St. Teresa in Winona with high honors and served as Student Body President her senior year. Her first year after college Jean lived and worked with Young Christian Students in Chicago serving minority communities in the cause of greater opportunity and social justice. During that time Jean helped in preparations for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to bring the civil rights movement north to Chicago in 1966. Jean marched behind Dr. King braving the vitriol of angry, rock-throwing crowds.

 

Like many in Durango, Jean led an adventurous life in the company of family and friends. Her first backpack trip deep into the Weminuche Wilderness was in 1976. That same summer Jean came under the spell of the river canyons, paddling a raft suited for a pond through the deep canyons of the Dolores from Slickrock to Bedrock with camping gear in garbage bags. Jean pioneered the use of turkey roasting bags fastened over wool socks to ward off frozen feet while rafting the snowmelt waters of the Upper Dolores.

 

After many trips with their first whitewater raft on the Dolores and San Juan, Jean and Will ran the Grand Canyon for the first time in early July of 1983. They launched with Durango friends at Lee’s Ferry on 65,000 cubic feet per second. Jean went on to run the Colorado through the Grand Canyon nine more times, thrilled by the Big Drops and entranced with the hidden wonders of the side canyons. A bush pilot flew Jean, Will, and Maria’s owner Dusty Teal into the remote backcountry of the South Nahanni River in Canada’s Northwest Territories for a two-week float through its canyons to the hamlet of Nahanni Butte on the Liard River. Jean portaged only twice in her river-running days, once at Crystal on the Colorado, the second time on the Nahanni. The drop at Virginia Falls is twice that of Niagara Falls. Taken with the North, Jean went back time and again to Alaska, British Columbia and Alberta, the Yukon and the NWT.

 

Closer to home Jean frequented the canyons of Cedar Mesa in southeast Utah, starting with a Grand Gulch hike in the late 70s. On one of those hikes she woke to three inches of snow and a ringtail making off with the cookies. Taking llamas  all the way up to The Window on the Continental Divide was one of the highlights of her life. Jean loved kids, reading, family, Barack Obama, the song of the canyon wren, the redwoods of Mendocino County, the Oregon Coast, the Big Island of Hawaii, Jerry Garcia, and music. Her favorite song was “Ripple,” her favorite concert venues Red Rocks and Telluride’s town park. Her favorite cities were San Francisco and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. In all her travels Jean never came across a place she’d rather live than Durango. She cherished her nieces and nephews, enjoyed taking them on adventures, hosted family reunions in Durango dating back to 1974 out of the Strater Hotel and her home on South Texas Creek in the 90s.

 

In the summer of ’71, Jean tramped solo through Europe with a Boy Scout backpack. In her later years, she returned to Europe several times, raising a pint In Kilkenny, Ireland to the memory of her father who was born an Irish lad in Kilkenny, Minnesota.

 

Jean was predeceased by her sister Mary Kolseth of Albany, OR and Will’s brother Greg Hobbs of Denver, CO. Jean is survived by her brother John Loftus of Alki Beach, WA, by sisters Diane Loftus of Santa Fe, NM and Cathy Shochet of Dayton, WA, husband Will Hobbs of Durango, Will’s sister Barbara Morrissey of Saratoga, CA, Will’s brothers Ed and Joe Hobbs of San Antonio, TX and Columbia, MO, and eleven nieces and nephews.

 

In her last couple years, with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia, Jean remained herself in many ways, cheerful and content in the small world of her wing of Sunshine Gardens. She would light up at phrases from favorite songs on the CD player. Jean enjoyed watching albums of photos on the iPad, video movies as well that she had made of adventures and family reunions. Jean no longer remembered those times and places, but recognized herself, Will, and close family. Written all over her face was the recognition that she’d had a wonderful life.

 

Jean lived and she laughed, she loved and was loved.

 

“Fare you well, my honey.  Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul.” 

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