Jean Rawls Mays, maiden name, Jean McGregor Rawls, had an incredible life. Jean was an amazing person and made a tremendous impact on so many people’s lives! Besides her family and friends along her very long life, she was much-loved by her Big Elk Meadows and Estes Park friends. She passed away August 8, 2018. Two beautiful memorial services were held in Denver, CO at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as well as St. Andrews Assisted Living, where she had resided since early 2014, August 18, 2018. She is survived by her three children: Nini Walker, Kate Daniels, and Stu Walker, her grandchildren, Devon Moyer and Cory Schroeder, Hunter and Courtney Shay Walker, several great-grandchildren and niece, Pris Duderstadt.
Jean was born on February 24, 1921 in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, where her father was stationed. She was the second child of Col. Walter Owens Rawls and Kathryn Vaughan Hill, U.S. Army. Her family was transferred many times, to many interesting places with his family: Kansas, Illinois, Washington D.C., Hawaii, back to Washington D.C., Georgia, Ft. McKinley, Philippines, Hawaii, and Austin, Texas.
Jean graduated from the American High School in Manila, Philippines. She attended and graduated from the University of Texas, Austin, Texas where she received her Bachelor of Arts in English, with a minor in French, was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, where she exhibited her great leadership qualities. Other professional societies she belonged to included Sigma Delta Chi and Theta Sigma Phi (honorary journalism societies), the National Council of College Publications Advisers, Quill & Scroll International Society of Hi-Sc Journalists. Her honors also include Who’s Who among Colleges and Universities and Mortar Board. She created several active clubs on campus and was beloved by her teachers and friends.
She attended the following colleges working on her graduate studies in Mass Communication, evaluating school publications, designing curriculum, and journalism: University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona State University, Tempe, Western Washington State College, Bellingham, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Los Angeles. She later received her Masters Degree in Journalism from the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO. She became a writer/editor of many publications and publishing companies.
Upon graduating from the University of Texas in 1943, she joined the Naval Reserves as a WAVE, attended Officers Training School at Smith College, Northhampton, Massachusetts July 1943 with an Ensign Commission, quickly rising to the rank of Lt. j.g. Her World War II work in the Navy primarily was on staff for six months at Smith College upon graduation, then assigned for administrative duty with the Photographic Division, Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, Washington, D.C., viewing, categorizing, and filing all the photos coming in from the World War II Pacific Arena. (Administrative and Coordinator’s job) Length of service: June 5, 1943 until March 2, 1945, Rank Lieutenant jg (junior grade).
Jean earned her CAA private pilot’s license at Navy Point, FL, 1948. She became an American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor and taught for many years throughout her life. Her leadership positions in life included work with USAF Ski Council, Pentagon, Hunter Valley Board of Directors and Riding Club, Virginia, member, Army and Navy Chapter of the Daughters of American Revolution, Washington D.C., most recently in the Arapahoe Chapter, Colorado as well as Post Commander of the Estes Park American Legion Post 119, Associate Member of the Friday Morning Music Club, Washington, D.C., various Marine Corps activities groups, worked with Sunday School groups, Brownies, Cub Scouts. While living in Hawaii later in life, she was a student of Hawaiian hula, Japanese flower arranging, cake decorating, and pattern drafting. She continued serving in the American Legion posts wherever she resided in her life, and was honored for her WWII service by participating in the World War II Honor Flight at age 95.
Her hobbies include swimming, skiing, horseback riding, tennis, badminton, fencing, flying, writing, gardening, baking, piano, and family!
After her work with the Navy, Jean shared her talents in many job areas: Writer and Editor for colleges and newspapers, Educator at both the High School and College levels (English, Literature, Newspaper, Yearbook), Correspondent with National Publications, Adviser to school publications, Speaker/Participant at local, state, regional and national scholastic press conventions.
She and husband, Ray Mays, worked with the Colorado CAP, as well as the New Mexico CAP when they moved there. Jean wrote the Colorado CAP’s newsletters and created/wrote the New Mexico CAP’s history. In her later years, she authored a wonderful article, nationally published in the book, For Better, For Worse.
Her dream someday was “to get seaplane-rated, win the lottery to acquire a Husky, Helio-Courier or even an old-but-good Beaver and explore more of Dennis Stock’s “magic land…so rare and blessed” (this was after her Alaskan Cruise with daughter, Nini).
Jean McGregor Rawls was nothing short of exceptional, in all facets of her life. She found success in every avenue that she explored. She was respected and adored by all who had the pleasure of her company. She was a giver, a story teller, an adventurer, a friend, a mother, and so much more. She was a pillar in the community, and a loveable rock, which her family's home was built upon. She will always be remembered by the stories she told, and created, throughout a truly incredible life. Everyone who knew her was touched by her in some way, and our family’s hope, is that her legacy of love and adventure will live on in each of us.
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