Jann M. Ungaro passed peacefully in the early hours of Jan. 20, 2018, the day of her birth 90 years ago. Surrounded by loving family at St. Mary's Hospital, she exemplified grace, courage and dignity in death as she did in life.
Born Jan. 20, 1928, to Fred Avery and Clara Hubbard Hutchins, she was the youngest of nine children. Her mother died when she was six months old and she said she grew up "learning to be tough" without a mom. Her older siblings and her devoted father took care of her. She was profoundly influenced by her early years spent on the family homestead on the West Muddy. Though the conditions could be harsh she never felt deprived. She learned to hunt and became an accomplished horsewoman. She grew up with an orphaned colt named Johnnie and they would lie together on a blanket while her father worked in the potato fields. She loved being in the mountains, and with nature as her teacher, learned through direct observation about flexibility and adaptability, about the seasons of time and the interconnectedness of all beings. She would later nurture her two daughters with this appreciation and knowledge.
While attending Paonia High School and after graduating in 1946, she worked at Brad's Confectionary where she met one of her dearest and lifelong friends, Lois Heddles, who would also become a sister-in-law. She also met the love of her life, Tommy Ungaro. They were married in 1948 and celebrated 67 years of marriage in 2015. That love produced two daughters, Roxanne and Trudy.
She lived her entire life in Paonia and the last 57 in the home she and Tommy built. She worked as a clerk in a department store and was an excellent homemaker and seamstress. Word puzzles, bluegrass music and honest conversations delighted her. She was creative, generous, thoughtful and caring. She even trapped, neutered, released and fed many alley cats long before it became common practice as a viable option to an increased feral cat population.
Without question though, her greatest accomplishment was that of being a mom. Words can't describe her consistent, selfless and unconditional love and the myriad ways she has and will continue to influence the lives of her daughters and those who knew her.
Her husband Tommy predeceased her in 2015, as did all of her siblings. She is survived by her daughters, Roxanne and her husband Ira Yates, Trudy and her husband Tim Wiley, numerous nieces, nephews, sisters-in-law Lois Hutchins and Madeline Pierce as well as many friends. A celebration of her long and wonderful life will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions can be made to Black Canyon Animal Sanctuary benefiting Katmandu.
The family expresses deep gratitude to Dr. Mitchell Gersten and the caring staff at St. Mary's Hospital.
"Though we need to weep your loss, you dwell in that safe place in our hearts where no storm or night or pain can reach you." John O'Donohue
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