Elizabeth Jo Needham Foran (Jodi)
Jodi passed away peacefully amid a loving family October 19th, 2023.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Jodi's honor to her favorite charity through this GoFundMe link https://gofund.me/d8f15fe0
Jodi was an amazing woman and I (her husband, Chris Foran) want all her friends and acquaintances to know more about her, so I'll try to paint a picture of the Jodi I've known and loved for 65 years. She was the creative “spark plug” of our family. She continually sought to gently stimulate people's minds and enrich their thinking. She was an empathetic person who wanted to improve the lives of everyone she met, yet she rarely talked about herself. She was an instinctive teacher and a loving friend, sister, wife, aunt, mother, grandmother and great grandmother.
Even as a child Jodi had an amazing memory. Her elementary teacher told her mother that “Jodi has never forgotten anything”.
Jodi's family moved from Aurora, Colorado, to Kissimmee, Florida when she was in 11th grade. We met in Osceola High School and I immediately fell in love. We became acquainted in math classes and she said she was surprised when I asked her to go to the prom with me. I was the one surprised when she said 'yes'. We enjoyed the prom in spite of both my left feet. She graduated from High School as the class Valedictorian. I asked her to keep my class ring hoping we would still be together after graduating from college.
While she was taking math and biology at Purdue and I was at the University of Florida, I wrote her nearly every day. Pay phone calls were rare and short, visits very rare.
She graduated from Purdue with a Bachelors in Mathematics and at the same time achieved a maximum score on her Graduate Record Exam in Biology! The biology department head told her he would get her into any biology graduate school in the country. She chose UCLA and was in California for a year before she realized the UCLA program wasn't what she wanted.
She came back east and married a newly minted, penny-less Army Private. I couldn't have been happier and have been so ever since. Her motherly instincts were strong and deep. She was overjoyed when she became pregnant and was so pleased when Ryan was born. We left the Army in 1969 and went to Gainesville, Florida, where I finished my degree in Electrical Engineering. Jodi's urge to improve the lives of all she came into contact with led her to teach school grades ranging from elementary to high school and through the sudden integration of the schools.
My first job after graduation took us to Austin, Texas, where Jodi happily stayed home raising Ryan. She started a food co-op which later became a well known fresh food store.
From Austin my job forced a move to Plano, Texas, when Ryan was still very young. Jodi was instrumental in establishing a League of Women Voters chapter. Again due to her urge to stimulate children's thinking she taught 3rd and 4th grade students. She also earned a Masters Degree by driving to night school at a satellite of Texas Technological College (which became Texas Tech University) while I stayed with Ryan.
From Texas we moved to Johnson City, Tennessee, where Jodi taught mathematics for several years. Her urge to improve the schools led her to become a School Board Member. When Ryan was old enough to be somewhat independent, Jodi turned to her own education. She studied and then taught a course at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) in Operations Research. She took programming courses and was hired by Texas Instruments to create inventory software.
Her need to stimulate thinking and new experiences led her to connect through Peace Links (a US
organization formed during the cold war) to a 1990's Friendship cruise on the Volga river. This cruise was possibly the first after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It was a very interesting two week cruise and we met many wonderful people, some of whom Jodi kept us in contact with to this day.
Jodi also arranged for other international exchanges such as a visit by Georgian students and a Swedish student who lived with us for a year.
Jodi and I rode our motorcycle on group rides with friends. She learned to ride her own motorcycle, but ultimately preferred us riding two-up. She organized family tours of the Colorado mountains, sometimes by motorcycle with Ryan riding his own. Later, when Ryan was in college, we toured the Rockies nearly every year.
Jodi was so proud of the man Ryan had become. He was and is a successful Electrical Engineer who has her drive to solve interesting problems. We were so pleased that we gained a daughter when Ryan and Jami were married. Ryan was now a loving husband and father. Jodi and Jami were immediately a close motherdaughter team as Jami was the daughter Jodi had always wanted. An amazing bonus was our granddaughter, Jenna!
After several years creating software for Texas Instruments, Jodi wanted to move closer to Ryan, Jami and Jenna who then lived in Greensboro. She accepted a position to create inventory software for a Greensboro, NC, fiber industry company, and we moved to that area.
Ultimately Jodi studied SAP, a large universal inventory software package, and contracted with large pharmaceutical companies around the US to configure SAP for their specific needs.
Around 2000 we both retired to Cortez, CO, where we teamed up to design and build our present house. We used saws, hammers and nails to “do it yourself” over a 4 year period.
After completing the house, Jodi's creative juices turned to broader activities in Montezuma county. We were founding members of the Montezuma Climate Action Network (M-CAN), which organized yearly “Verde Fest” climate awareness festivals. Jodi created and ran a “Hands On” sub-organization with monthly tours of existing solar, wind and other power saving installations and she created an M-CAN newsletter. She served on the local hospital board, was a member of the Harmony Club and became president of Montezuma League of Women Voters. For several years she stimulated a great deal of League activities including a monthly newsletter which was awarded Best LWV Newsletter in Colorado.
We continued to ride our motorcycle in the beautiful Colorado mountains until around 2010 when her health began to decline. In 2013 her brother, David, who is a doctor, diagnosed her problems as Cushing's Disease which essentially saved her life. He supported her through her long slow recovery. Cushings had severely affected her body and kept her from most of her favorite activities. After surgery and with medication, she improved and stayed in contact with many of her friends and acquaintances for the next 10 years.
In mid 2023 she was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. She decided not to seek treatment, but to enjoy life as much as possible to the end. We did many of the things she enjoyed and was able to do.
Her 80th birthday party in late September was a wonderful two week long celebration designed and managed by Jami and Ryan and attended by her sister, Margaret and family the first week and then by Granddaughter Jenna, and family Spencer and new great grandson JW the second week. Jodi was thrilled by it all, especially seeing her new and rapidly growing great grandson in person.
She began a rapid decline in October leaving little time for her sister Margaret and brother David to see her again before she passed away peacefully amid a loving family October 19th, 2023.
After an immediate-family-only service, Jodi will be resting in the Cortez Cemetery not far from her
grandmother, Mildred Needham. Her grave site has a good view of our house and the beautiful La Plata mountains to our east.
Jodi's loving spirit will live on through her affect on the lives of the many she touched.
Please feel free to pass this on to friends or relatives.