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.