JoLyn Reeves, most recently of Dixon, NM, passed away peacefully July 3, 2023. She is survived by her daughters Emily Romero and Delia Neal, and granddaughters Sage, Tyler, and Lily. Our mom was born a month and a day before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – as she liked to say and then wait for you to remember your history and do the math – in San Pedro, California. The eldest child of Gene and Josephine Abbott, she is also survived by her younger brothers: Ral and Lou.
The Abbott family traveled extensively around the world due to Gene’s work in construction, and JoLyn saw the Parthenon and the Australian Outback before she graduated high school. JoLyn’s first adult job was as a flight attendant for TWA back when they were called stewardesses and had to wear heels and pillbox hats, and passengers got real silverware and crystal highball glasses in first class. She met Charles Reeves in San Francisco and they married there, welcoming their eldest daughter Delia in 1967. JoLyn, Delia, and Charles moved to England the next year and Emily was born there in 1972. After being wildly disappointed by both England and Charles, JoLyn fled the bleak damp of Southampton, England in 1973, with two little ones in tow and not a penny to her name.
She and the girls sought refuge with her parents Gene and Jose Abbott on their farm in Velarde, NM for a few years until she was able to obtain her degree from the College of Santa Fe. Her days were spent studying and working various internships and her nights were spent with Delia and Emily, reading from “The Hobbit,” as well as playing her guitar and teaching them all the words to classics like: “This Land is Your Land,” “City of New Orleans,” and “I know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly.” Songs that both of us – in our 50s now – can still sing in their entirety and on repeat should the occasion demand.
During those difficult years, JoLyn taught us the meaning of internal grit, how to accept charity with dignity, and the importance of doing the right things at the hardest of times.
She then earned her Master of Social Work from the University of Denver and took her little family up to Green River, Wyoming in 1977, where she began working in behavioral health. In Green River, JoLyn became deeply involved with the community, singing in the choir at the Union Congregational Church, making some lifelong friends, serving on the board of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation and, much to our chagrin, getting elected to the Sweetwater County District #2 School Board and handing both of us our diplomas at our GRHS graduations in 1984 and later in 1990.
JoLyn was an avid outdoorswoman and hunter and remained very involved with conservation efforts throughout her life. She served on the National Wildlife Federation Board from 1993-2000. She was the Region 13 Director for NWF during that time, covering Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
JoLyn became that rarest of beasts in the early 80s – the single woman businessperson – and opened a counseling practice in Rock Springs with partners Larry Carlson and Brent Anderson, working there until moving to Laramie in 1993. JoLyn continued her work in behavioral health while in Laramie, providing care for a wide range of clients from those in crisis to those in hospice.
She continued to travel, visiting with Emily and her babies in New Mexico, and with Delia and her husband and dogs in Arizona. Eventually JoLyn was able to make the move down to New Mexico to be closer to Emily and Emily’s daughters: Sage, Tyler, and Lily. Jolyn continued to work in behavioral health and spend her free time with her granddaughters or out in her garden. She volunteered at Dixon Elementary, sang with the Presbyterian Church choir, worked at the Dixon Co-Op, and still found time to work on her painting and in her garden. Still the world traveler, she toured Costa Rica to participate in a watercolor workshop in 2005 and enjoyed plein air painting in the pool, feeding coatimundi, and zip-lining through the jungle.
JoLyn was never happier than when she was with her granddaughters, out in her garden, or enjoying the company of all of the dear friends she made under the deep blue New Mexican skies.
Her love of music never left her and after the cruel ravages of Alzheimer’s disease robbed her of her ability to speak or recognize family, she continued to respond to music – humming along with Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose,” or laughing at the goofy asides in Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant.”
Our mother lived an amazing life, achieved incredible things in the face of daunting odds and adversity, and gave us both the gift of her love and unending support. We remember the road trips, the backpacking adventures, the singalongs, the tales of her childhood adventures, the bedtime stories, and her ability to quote endlessly from most of the “Pink Panther” movies. She touched many lives, made many friends, and left the world better than she found it.
In lieu of flowers, we are asking that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association at act.alz.org.
The family of JoLyn Reeves has entrusted the care of their loved one to DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the beautiful Espanola Valley. www.devargasfuneral.com 505-747-7477