Anna Jane PHELAN Purcell

On Saturday, October 13, 2018, Jane Purcell passed away peacefully in her Litchfield Park home of 50 years, surrounded by family. She was 89 years old.

Born Anna Jane Phelan on January 5, 1929 in her family home in Flagstaff, she was the second of five siblings born to Claude and Willow Phelan, both native Arizonans. As a child of the Great Depression, Jane’s father worked different jobs in Flagstaff before moving the family to Litchfield Park Air Base (renamed Luke Field in 1941) after it was built in 1940. Her father worked on base as a plumber and the children attended the local school; with the exception of Jane and brother Claude, Jr., who attended school in Phoenix. Both children lived as boarders, Claude, Jr. attending St. Mary’s High School, Jane a student at Xavier College Preparatory. Jane returned home as a senior in high school and attended Litchfield High School.

Upon graduation, she returned to Flagstaff and attended Northern Arizona University. She excelled academically and played the drums in the Lumberjack Band. During this time, she met her love, Lloyd Purcell, and they secretly eloped. They were eventually “found out” and moved in to married housing to complete college.

The couple returned to the west valley, settling in Goodyear, where Jane worked as a secretary at Goodyear Aerospace for a short time. They reared four daughters and in 1968 moved to Litchfield Park. Jane returned to work and became the first librarian of Litchfield Park. Beginning in a one room library with limited circulation, she began to work on a new facility which, ultimately, became the Florence Brinton Memorial Library. In 1982 she was named the Maricopa County Librarian of the Year.

Jane retired in 1990 and devoted her days to grandchildren, working in her garden with her award winning roses, sewing, quilting, and reading. Jane never traveled extensively but often said she “traveled by reading books.” She was an avid “information geek” and her curious nature was usually satisfied through the pages of a book or by studying maps. Jane was known for her strong political convictions and read her newspapers from cover to cover up until recent days. She is pre-deceased by her husband Lloyd of 60 years, and her brothers, Claude, Jr. and James. She is survived by two sisters, Willow Seibert and Peggy Schmid; four daughters, Jan Parkinson, Mary Wagner, Patty Haydis, and Polly Franklin; 13 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.


  1. Cathey Lawrence DiVito says:

    This is a beautiful tribute to your Mom. So much of this I didn’t know! She was truly a remarkable lady.
    Thank you so much for sharing!


  2. Peggy Schmid says:

    To my dear sister Jane

    How blessed we all were to have you in our family.
    You helped everyone. You set the example for us all.
    When you left for school. I cried. “Who’s going-to wash my Hair!”
    You were the only one who could wash it with out hurting me. For this, I thank you.
    Your many talents made me so proud. It encouraged me to try.
    God gave you the gifts. You shared them with others. For this , I thank you.
    Willow and I recently recalled. We never had arguments. Never! Not to say we didn’t disagreed. Oh yes. Sure did. “We never fought or had arguments. “
    For this, I thank you.

    You were always encouraging.
    Could lift any ones spirits. Always gave of your time to listen. For this, I thank you.
    When Mom and Dad needed help you were right their. Even when our grumpy Daddy would get so mad at the world and take it out on you. You never complained. Took it in stride. Just kept giving, and loving.
    For this, I thank you.

    When I look at us all together

    “Moms Garden of flowers”

    Then I say
    “Thank you God for planting us all together in the same garden. “
    We all have been truly Blessed. 😍
    Save me a place Jane, on the church pew In Heaven. Where we will once again sit together and Give Thanks to our Creator. For planting us in the same garden. here on earth.
    For this I give Thanks to our Great and Generous God 💖


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