Obituary: Janet Kaye Schoeberlein
March 26, 1930 – December 28, 2021
Janet Kaye (Southworth) Schoeberlein, age 91, of Woody Creek, CO, passed away in her home from natural causes December 28, 2021. She was known for her strong will; her adventurous and unconventional spirit; and her commitment to her community and her family.
She was born in Lansing, Michigan to Robert B. Southworth and Evelyn Leora (Wood) Southworth, the second of four children. During her early years, her family lived in a variety of Civilian Conservation Corps camps in northern Michigan where her father worked. After WWII, her family moved to Frankfurt, Germany, where her father—then a Lt. Colonel in the Army—was stationed.
She graduated from Frankfurt Community High School for U.S. personnel in 1947. Janet returned to the states to attend college and graduated from University of Colorado in 1952. After working as a secretary for several years, she enrolled in University of Denver School of Law, where she was the only woman in her class. She earned her law degree in 1958 and worked in general law practice and as a court clerk for Arapahoe County District Court.
Janet moved to Aspen in the 1960s to raise a young nephew under her care in a small-town setting. She opened a private practice and served a term as Aspen City Attorney (under the name Janet K. Gaylord). She was the first woman to hold the position. At that time, she purchased one of the original ranch properties on the valley floor in Woody Creek, CO. She retired from the practice of law after her marriage (1968-2008) to attorney William F. Schoeberlein. The couple moved to the foothills west of Golden, CO, where they lived for decades and raised their daughter, Lara (Schoeberlein) Beaulieu. In the late 1990s Janet returned to Woody Creek, which has been her home ever since. She never retired from her final career as a property manager.
Janet was a feminist, a ceramist, a world traveler, an adventurer, an outdoorswoman, a kayaker, and an environmentalist. She had a soft spot for underdogs of many stripes. An unrepentant English grammarian, she was also an accomplished speaker, reader, and writer of Spanish. As a volunteer tutor for English In Action, she supported nine adult students and donated nearly 1000 hours of her time between 2009 and 2021. Never one to pass up a good meal, she enjoyed taking her beloved student, Beatriz Ferrufino, out to lunch.
A strong advocate for community and civic engagement, Janet was an active participant in the Woody Creek Planning Commission and Caucus, and Walthen Ditch maintenance group right up until her death. She was a devoted supporter of the Wood Creek Community Center where she spent countless hours playing Bananagrams with other local devotees of the game. The driving force behind an effort to build a new gathering place in Woody Creek, Janet believed that a community needs spaces to gather in formal and informal communion.
Janet was considered a “force,” and she never let her story be dictated by others. She raised beagles for years but fell in love with two big cats in her final decades. She loved her land in Woody Creek where she was often seen burning ditches and planting trees for future generations. She is survived by her daughter, Lara, and her son-in-law, Lenny Beaulieu. She is also survived by three stepchildren and their families (Lisa Dirth, Joede Schoeberlein, and John Schoeberlein), two brothers (Richard and Robert Southworth), and six nieces and nephews, as well as her friends Valerie and Craig MacDonald who assisted her during the pandemic.
A virtual celebration of life will be held on January 16 at 4 p.m. For information on how to join, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations in memory of Janet can be made to English In Action in Basalt.
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