April 2, 1931 – March 27, 2023
On April 2, 1931, Loretta Jeanette (Jan) Heinen was born to John (JT) and Mary Heinen in Cawker City, Kansas. When you are the twelfth of twelve children, as she was, folks might think that you’ll be just like your other eleven siblings. Yet, Jan, was her own woman with unique and endearing attributes and strengths beginning with her birth, as she was the only child of JT and Mary who was born in a hospital.
In her little town of Cawker City, there were an abundance of aunts, uncles, and cousins due to the large families of Heinens, Schmitts and Nusses in the area. If there was fun or mischief afoot, you would be sure to find those engaged in the activity related to the Heinens. Some of Jan’s life adventures included being pulled behind her brother’s old car on a snow sled. Or being “bored” on a weekend and taking turns trying to shoot out the light on the top of the grain elevator. (A hijinks that landed her in front of her father, the acting Police Judge, to account for her mischief.)
The Heinen’s loved instrumental and vocal music and so did Jan. She was the only female member of a musical group, “Big 4 Quartet plus 1” that included her, her brother, Jack Heinen, Rex Coe, Alvin and Chub Wooton.
Her first job was in high school where she worked part time at the Cawker City Ledger paper as a line-o-type where she set up the type pieces and later had a little column called “Line-0-Gripes.”
Jan loved sports and was slated to go away to college with a softball scholarship, but she contracted polio and that created a bit of a detour in her life. True to her strong will and the encouragement of her family, she worked hard to overcome the effects of polio and moved forward in her life with gusto.
At 21 she moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where she continued using her printing, writing, and marketing skills in a variety of businesses. She met Ed Harding in 1957 while enjoying a sing a long in a local tavern where Jan was playing some favorite songs on the piano, and he requested she play the Coast Guard song.
It wasn’t long before they were married and began to grow their family. Ed had a teenaged son, Mike, when they were married, and Jan became a loving and guiding mother from her first “I do.” Ed would do simple things to show his love for Jan like picking wild desert flowers on his way home from work and putting them in his lunch box for her to find when she cleaned it out.
They loved hunting dove and quail and fishing in Northern Arizona where they bought a weekend property to get away from the heat of the City.
Jan was famous for her incredible wit and humor, silly antics, scrabble competitions and a never-ending supply of jokes. Whenever a loved one would leave or end a phone call with, “I Love You,” her golden answer was always “Love You Back.”
On March 27, 2023, while holding the hands of her two daughters, Jan peacefully departed this life and returned to God. She was preceded in death by her husband, Edward James Harding, her stepson, Michael James Harding, her parents and 11 siblings. She is survived by her daughters Mary (Wayne) Danage, Elizabeth (Bob) Young, 11 grandchildren, and 9 great grandchildren.
As we grieve her loss, we are reminded of the words of Elizabeth I (Queen of England and Ireland) “Grief never ends… But it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith… It is the price of love.”
Jan’s love, humor and influence was deeply felt by many and will be deeply missed by those remaining.
A private family celebration of life will be conducted in Arizona.