Jill Elaine Jordan (60) passed away peacefully on January 23, 2023 in Olathe, Kansas.
Jill was born on July 26, 1962 in Ottawa, Kansas to Thomas and Susan Jordan. Jill is survived by her husband of 33 years, Steven Kidwell, children Christopher Kidwell of Prairie Village, Kansas, and Saffron Kidwell of Rolla, Missouri, and sisters Holly Jordan (Teresa Fralix) and Christina Jordan (Wayne Schroeder).
As a pre-teen, she enjoyed and identified with the Little House on the Prairie books. Even though she wore cornrows well, she did NOT appreciate that she was told that she looked like a young Melissa Gilbert. As a young girl, Jill enjoyed her role as Nyfrm the Sprite as part of Lawrence’s longtime youth theater troupe, the Seem-To-Be-Players. Jill attended public schools in Lawrence, Kansas, graduating from Lawrence High School. An extraordinary writer and a voracious reader at a young age, Jill was a National Merit Scholar finalist and won a coveted Watkins-Burger Scholarship at the University of Kansas. She completed her liberal arts degree (French) in 1987 after initially studying textile design. The highlight of her university experience was a year of study abroad in Bordeaux, France. Her college experience shaped her into the smart, strong, liberal, feminist woman most of us knew and loved.
Jill met her future husband Steve while running the gift shop at the KU Museum of Natural History. They were married on May 27, 1989, at the Danforth Chapel on the KU Campus. Friends would later tell Steve that he had “married”. Upon moving to Kansas City, Missouri, Jill emphatically stated that they were “NOT staying in Kansas City.” Thus began over 30 happy years living in Kansas City’s Westport and Brookside neighborhoods and enjoying proximity to the treasured Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, Loose Park and local Edgevale Park and Trolley Trail. The feline (Athena) and canine (too many to list) fur babies were followed by children Christopher and Saffron.
Jill has always sought meaningful local employment, including time at Children’s Place, Planned Parenthood, Pryde’s, Women’s Employment Network and EarthWorks. After several years of volunteering at her local national public radio affiliate, KCUR, Jill worked for over 15 years as a production assistant, announcing on Sunday mornings and serving as an office receptionist. Jill also enjoyed volunteering and participating in many local activities and organizations, including visiting nursing homes with therapy dog Poppy, taking voice lessons, helping the Brookside Mother’s Association, and supporting her children’s classroom activities. For several years running, she’s been channeling her expertise in youth theater and textile design into amazing Halloween costumes for kids (including pulling an all-nighter to finish them). Jill has found her niche of interest in birding, becoming a Missouri master naturalist, gardening native plants, and volunteering at the Lakeside Nature Center.
Jill was diagnosed with early onset dementia in 2018. She has received loving support from Steve, sisters Holly and Christina, friend Barbara Holle and countless other friends and carers. Jill showed extraordinary courage and always kept the kind and loving spirit of her or her tender place for dogs, children and McLain’s Bakery. Jill spent her final months under the loving and respectful care of the staff at Evergreen Community of Johnson County and their sister hospice association in Olathe, Kansas.
A celebration of Jill’s life will be held at the Carnegie Building 200 W. Ninth St. in Lawrence, KS on Saturday, February 25, 2023, at 1 PM.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to KU Endowment, PO Box 928, Lawrence, KS 66044, benefiting the Jordan-Kidwell Study Abroad Scholarship. Online contributions can be made at www.kuendowment.org/give