For this assignment, students had to pick a family member who had died and write what would have been his/her obituary. The assignment was designed to teach students how to write obituaries while also giving them a sense of the sensitivity needed to interview family members of those who had recently died.
Jean Boles Killion’s family remembers her quite sweetly — literally.
Her granddaughter Julie Brown said her favorite memory of Jean was her “endless supply” of Hershey chocolate bars and Coca Colas — Diet Coke wasn’t allowed.
“She loved sweets and spent her last years stocking more ice cream in the freezer than real food,” Brown said via email.
Her son, Jerald Killion, also remembers her sweet tooth fondly.
“The great trivia of her being grandma was always having Hersey chocolate bars in the fridge, which was the first destination of the grandkids whenever we went to grandma’s house,” Killion said, also via email.
Jean Killion, whose sweet tooth and stoic personality are still remembered at Killion family dinners, died Feb. 28, 2009, at her home in Sedgwick, Kan. She was 89.
She was born a middle sibling of three, Sept. 17, 1919, in Liberal, Kan., to Frank and Katie Boles. Her father was a successful wheat farmer and the president of the First National Bank in Liberal. After attending Colorado Women’s College in Denver, she married Charles Killion on April 22, 1941, and moved to Wichita, Kan. While they lived in Wichita, Charles worked as a tool designer at Boeing for more than 30 years.
Jean and Charles had three children: Kay, born Nov. 29, 1941; Jerald, born Oct. 4, 1942; and Jeanette, born July 17, 1945.
Jean’s descendants found one common thread in their memories of her life: her lasting influence on their personalities, families and values.
Her sweet tooth has been passed down all the way through her 10 great-grandchildren.
She loved dogs and couldn’t bear to be without one in the family. To this day, her son, granddaughter and grandson have had multiple family dogs and each currently have one.
She was organized and orderly, and she loved to spend entire days cleaning out and restructuring desk drawers. Her family lovingly refers to this type-A personality trait they’ve inherited as “The Killion Gene” or “The Jean Gene.”
“She always supported activities of an intellectual nature, such as my ham-radio days and stupid science experiments that almost blew up the garage,” Jerald said. “She was point-blank in her remarks…drove me nuts. To this day, we mimic her terse, stoic language.”
“She would have me over to rethink her desk drawers, dresser drawers, and pantry shelves,” Brown said. “We would empty them all then start fresh. She would sit in a comfortable chair and direct me, and I’d be the shuffler, folder, mover and stacker. She always had a plan, and I would execute the plan.”
She found comfort in traditions as big as family holidays and as small as her afternoon soaps.
“We recall her generous Christmas with the grandkids…with lots of gifts, which was her way of showing affection,” Jerald said.
Jerald’s wife, Cathy, also praised Jean’s generosity.
“She always had a brand new pad of $1 bills and she would pull them off like a notepad and pass out to grandkids,” Cathy said.
Jean, a stay-at-home mom, was remembered above all for the strong sense of morality she instilled in her children.
“She was strict at raising her children in the church and instilling a sense of correct behavior of values of right and wrong,” Jerald said.
“We loved Jean because we were brought up to ‘honor our father and mother,’ and we always did, faithfully, seeing to her needs after Charles passed away and being faithful in our visits.”
Jean was preceded in death by her husband, Charles; parents, Frank and Katie Boles; grandson, Eric Alley; and sister, Helen Pittman.
She is survived by her son, Jerald Killion; daughters Kay Alley and Jeanette Wood; brother Thomas Boles; grandchildren, Elizabeth Hilsabeck, Evan Alley, Jason Wood, Jarrod Wood, Julie Brown and Patrick Killion; and 10 great-grandchildren.
Her funeral was held at Kensington Gardens in Wichita, Kan., at 2 p.m. on March 3, 2009.