Obituaries

January 2020
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Pennie Nelson

Pennie Nelson, age 70, of Surprise Arizona, died on January 12th, 2020. She was born on May 2nd, 1949 to William Russel Hudson and Joan Pamela Siggery. Pennie was one of two children and deeply loved her family.

Pennie grew up in San Diego, California and went to Madison High School. Pennie got lucky and fell in love with the boy next door. On March 25th, 1968 Pennie married the love of her life, Craig Nelson. Pennie and Craig went on to have two beautiful daughters that were the light of Pennie’s life. She was a remarkable mother who raised her two girls to be strong, smart and independent. Growing up her girls knew that mom had a place for everything and everything had its place, a trait her daughter’s inherited from their mom.

As the “Queen Bee” of her family, Pennie was the life of the party. She had an infectious laugh that got the attention of everyone in the room. Pennie had expressive eyes that people couldn’t help but fall in love with. Her family knew there was no such thing as a “short outing” when they were with her because it was almost guaranteed she would run into someone she knew and an hour-long conversation would ensue.

A proud grandma, Pennie loved to cook and bake for her three adoring grandchildren. She loved to spoil them with her time and attention. One of her favorite past times was going boating and being on the water with her family. Pennie was also an excellent quilter and amazed her friends and family with her stunning creations.

Pennie was a woman of God and loved to read her bible. She kept the phrase “God gives His hardest battles to His toughest soldiers” on the front of her bible. Pennie was truly one of his toughest soldiers. She knew that with God all things were possible and believed that keeping her faith strong was priority number one. A testament to her belief can be seen through her favorite bible verse; “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6.

 

Pennie is survived by her loving husband Craig Nelson, two daughters Kyla Parker (Bryan) and Shay Schmitt (Matthew),  Brother William Russel Hudson Jr., Sister-in-law Sharalyn Skalak, and three grandchildren Breanna & Brett Parker, and Mason Schmitt-  A memorial service will be held at Reveal Vineyard Church in El Mirage, AZ on January 30th, 2020 at 5:00 pm.

 

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

~ Joshua 1:9 ~

Dr. Colonel Gary Richard Rockwood

Dr. Colonel Gary Richard Rockwood, 76, of Surprise, Arizona, peacefully passed away on January 15, 2020. He was born on September 10, 1943, and grew up in Seattle, Washington. After graduating high school, Gary enlisted in the Army, attended college and graduated from Officer’s Candidate School.

Gary married Betty Jane “B.J.” Davis in 1966. They had three children together. They divorced in 1986. Gary met his soulmate Patricia “Tish” Pruett and they married in 1987. They enjoyed 30 years of shenanigans and travel before Tish died in 2017. Gary was also preceded in death by his mother Evelyn Ehlers.

Gary’s 30 years of service in the U.S. Army took him all over the world, from Seattle, Washington to California, Okinawa, Indiana, Germany, Hawaii, Korea, D.C., and Japan. He began his military career serving two tours in Vietnam, during which time he was awarded the bronze star for heroism. Gary retired from the Army as Full Colonel in Hawaii. His second career was in the Hawaii tourism industry as Director of Human Resources with the Prince Hotels on Oahu, then with The Mauna Kea & Hapuna Beach Resorts on the Big Island. During this time, he also received his Ph.D. in Business Management from USC.

Gary was an avid runner, fulfilling his dream of participating in (and finishing!) the Honolulu Marathon. He also enjoyed swimming and playing racquetball; however, golfing was a favorite activity for him. Gary was a kind and gentle soul who cherished his 4-legged buddies and knew no strangers. He had a knack for making friends anywhere and everywhere with his easy laid-back personality, twinkling blue eyes, and contagious chuckle. He was a mentor, a confidante, a true friend. He modeled service above self, the essence of the “Aloha Spirit”, and the importance of people & communities working together. He was an inspiration to all who knew him. Gary left this world a better place.

Gary’s surviving family includes his parents Richard and Hazel Rockwood; his children Kimberley Rockwood, Gary Rockwood Jr (wife Kim), Mark Rockwood (wife Holly); his grandchildren Amanda, Georgia, Gary III, Audrey; his great-grandchildren Makenzi, Lauren, Noelle; step-children Myki Williamson, Michael “Chael” Pruett (wife Lee), Ashlie O’Reilly (husband Bill); step-grandchildren Lucy, Charlie, Amelia, Finn, Connor, Cameron; brother Dennis (wife Sharon); sister Cindy (husband Rich); step-sisters Patty and Roberta; brothers & sisters-in-law; aunties & uncles, cousins, nieces & nephews; his devoted caregiver Preston and many dear friends. We all miss him very much.

A private memorial celebrating his life will be held at a later date in Hawaii.

In lieu of flowers, we invite you to donate in honor of Veterans and/or to your local animal shelter and/or to Hospice of the Valley in Peoria, AZ.

James C. Thelen

James C. Thelen, 86 of Waddell, AZ, died January 5, 2020, in Goodyear, AZ. He was born February 22, 1933, to Floyd and Ruth Thelen in Green Bay, WI. He served in the United States Army from 1953 to 1955. James, was a great caring man, had a unique silly sense of humor, quick-witted, who loved to tell a joke and make people laugh.

He was a very spiritual and held dear to him his faith, and especially his love for the Native American Elders, family, and friends. He was very active, enjoyed a good walk, bike ride and always had a morning exercise routine. His hobbies were; hunting, trout fishing, golfing, biking, jogging, and gardening. James was very healthy, but really enjoyed his donuts, chocolate and especially loved M&Ms.

He is survived by his wife, Hildi; two daughters, Joy, and Raquel; four sons, Jon, Jeff, Jamin, and Jason; two sisters, Sue and Barbra; two brothers, Kenneth and Tom; 19 Grandchildren and 8 Great Grandchildren

Kathleen Ann Watson

“When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility.

And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now.

Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh in Gift from the Sea

***This poem was found posted at Kathy’s desk.

 

Mother, grandmother, partner, and writer and editor par excellence Kathleen Watson died tragically and far too soon in Phoenix on December 31, 2019, at the age of 75.

Kathy was born August 19, 1944, on a U.S. Navy base in Jacksonville, Florida, to Bill and Althea Watson. She had two sons, Tad and Toby, with former husband Pat Kubler; one daughter, Janet Roth; and four grandchildren. She shared the last 18 years of her life with partner, Paul “Doc” Martin.

In 1989, at age 45, Kathy earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She went on to complete a master’s in communication from Northwestern University in 2001, at age 57.

She founded her own writing and editing business, Word Works, in 1990, under the slogan “Making words work for you,” taking clients from the corporate world and academia over the next three decades. Long known as “the Ruthless Editor,” Kathy wrote and published her first book in 2016 at age 72, Grammar for People Who Hate Rules. She continued to publish an email newsletter on language tips up until her death. An indefatigable worker who couldn’t help but stay busy, she had planned to finally retire in March of this year.

The epitome of grace and elegance, Kathy carried herself with a ballerina’s poise and an air of inherent authority. Her voice was soft but direct. When she was with you, it was obvious that she was fully present and paying attention, that what you said mattered. She could have taught a master class in the arts of patience, tact, and discretion. She loved to talk, share stories, and judiciously dole out advice—she gave her loved ones autonomy and encouraged them to learn for themselves.

Her love of learning came from the heart. She was proud of earning her two degrees as an adult. She herself traveled frequently and fearlessly. She loved to meet new people, was constantly hungry for knowledge, loved asking questions, and was involved in book clubs, discussion groups, and workshops.

She deliberately sought out the perspectives of people with different experiences from hers, and the opinions of people she didn’t agree with. One of her favorite quotes was “To improve is to change. To perfect is to change often.”

Kathy’s superpower was making things last. In the words of her mother, she would “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” She took remarkable care of her things as well as her body. As a result, even in her seventies, she was pleased that she could still wear clothes from as far back as high school. Her impeccable, timeless sense of taste helped in this regard, as did the fact that she ate like a sparrow on a diet. She kept every memento ever given to her by another person.

She treated her personal relationships with similar conscientiousness and affection, and maintained friendships for life. She remembered people and made a point of remembering in acute detail what they said to her, jotting countless items down on scraps of paper that are still hiding all over her house. She understood the power of kindness and continually strove to do the right thing in every aspect of her life. She readily made sacrifices for her children, always putting their safety and well-being ahead of her own wants. She never failed to send a thank-you note after a dinner or gathering with friends or acquaintances.

Kathy had a marvelous sense of humor and could laugh at herself without hesitation. In contrast to her publicly punctilious demeanor, around those closest to her she had a fondness for sarcasm and dark jokes, and cheerfully teased and was teased by those she loved. Most of the music she listened to was recommended by her children. She took evident pride in having a rock star for a son and was equally proud of her other son being an educator—the juxtaposition pleased her.

In 2017, Kathy reconnected with Janet, the daughter she relinquished for adoption many years earlier. She was deeply happy to discover that Janet had been raised by a loving family and led a thriving life that included a successful career and a husband and three children of her own. That Janet’s family so warmly welcomed her into their life was a source of enduring joy for Kathy.

Kathy saw herself as forever young, always seeing the world anew. She is survived by partner Paul, sons Tad and Toby, daughter Janet, grandchildren Murphy Penn and Rachel, Kyle, and Charlie Roth, brother Bill “Salty” Watson Jr., and sister Eve Watson.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in her name to the National League of American Pen Women:

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