by Amie Rodgers
Much like the Chinese zodiac, 2016 seemed like the Year of the Beloved Dead Celebrity. The media has been in a nearly constant buzz with the latest celebrity death and there have been many. Unfortunately, this global sense of grieving is nothing in comparison to the local suffering of losing one of our own.
It is with an incredibly heavy heart that I share the recent passings of two truly amazing and inspiring women who were more than just local celebrities, but also local heroines. They were each so much to so many of us and have made a lasting difference on our community.
Michelle “Shelly” Rae O’Donnell
Michelle “Shelly” Rae O’Donnell passed away Thursday, January 5, 2017. She was at her home in Show Low, AZ, when she lost her tow-year battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 59. Shelly was born October 28, 1957, in Binghamton, New York. Then later united in marriage to the love of her life Robert O’Donnell in March 1979. She worked at Safeway, Inc. for more than 20 years and was an inspiration to all her customers and fellow coworkers.
Shelly is survived by her husband Robert, daughter Crystal, grandson Tanner, her dogs Ruby and Snooki, bird Savannah, and family in AZ, NY, MA, FL, and CO. Shelly was a light in many people’s lives, and a selfless mother. She was a friend to all, and loved by everyone who knew her. Shelly was an amazing cook, and an inspiration to many. She lived her life, in all aspects, with courage and grace. She will be missed dearly.
If you would like to help her family with medical expenses and other local families in similar circumstances, please support the Shelly O’Donnell Foundation by making a donation at Chase Bank.
Shelly wasn’t just a woman. She was a warrior. In the face of a devastating diagnosis, she fought a long, hard battle on her feet with dignity and her trademark sense of humor and playfulness that will be missed by many.
Janet Ann Mathis
Wife, Mother, Educator, Friend, Inspiration
Jan Mathis, pioneer of the White Mountain Community Garden crossed over to another garden on October 29, 2016 just two weeks shy of her 68th birthday on November 11. She completed her life surrounded by her family while peacefully resting in her home where she and her husband raised their two sons.
“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
—Marcus Tullius Cicero
Jan Mathis, pioneer and architect of White Mountain Community Garden. You planted seeds of inspiration in our hearts.