Jacqueline K. DenkJanuary 20, 1930 ~ May 23, 2017 (age 87)
Jacqueline K. Denk, a two-year resident of Gorham, Maine, died Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at her home at Gorham House.
She was born January 20, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois to Adele and William Orville Jones. After growing up in Pittsburgh, Pa, she lived in Chicago, Lincolnwood, and Skokie, Illinois. As the eldest of four children, she worked both in and out of the home from a fairly young age to support her family, which included busy parents and three younger siblings: Bill, Judy, and Janet. She married high-school beau Francis Klein in 1948 and had three children -- Christine, born in 1949; Cathleen, born in 1951; and James, born in 1958 -- before they divorced years later.
After a number of years working full-time and raising three children and handling it all with the grace and aplomb she would come to be known for, she met up with another high-school friend, Joseph Denk, and married him in 1969. They lived together in North Carolina’s Research Triangle and had two sons, Jeremy in 1970 and Joshua in 1972. Over the next several years, some in North Carolina and some in New Jersey, she was primarily a homemaker, encouraging her sons’ musical talents and academic pursuits. In 1980, she and the rest of the Denks moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she would live for the next 35 years.
Jackie worked as an administrative assistant at New Mexico State University for many years; it was there that she received an associate’s degree in technical writing and worked with both the university art department and the public radio and television station on campus, KRWG-TV. She did this despite illness and injuries that would leave her physically disabled and walking with a cane for nearly half her life. Her limitations, however, did nothing to suppress her determination and hard work at the office, which bled over into passionate and tireless advocacy for public broadcasting and the art program at the university as well as involvement with the Las Cruces Symphony Guild, the symphony’s Young Artist Program, and the Las Cruces High School Orchestra.
She remained the primary homemaker and caretaker for her fourth and fifth children even while she pursued a career at the university and recovered from health setbacks. Once retired, she kept up her connections to the arts through the symphony and also her husband’s continued involvement in the theater. When Joe passed in 2014, she stayed resolute and continued to make her home in the independent living apartment they had shared for his last few years. After a fall in her apartment the next year, she decided to take up east coast living again and moved to Gorham, Maine, just down the road from family. In these last two years here in Maine, she became one of the most well-loved residents of her unit in Gorham House, making strong connections especially with the caring and hard-working staff there.
She was a voracious consumer of romance novels, crossword puzzles and a huge fan of fleece and Mozart (less so of Bach). She never wrote her own name on the Christmas gifts she gave (only Santa’s name). She could reliably be found in front of the game on Sunday -- countdowns to 11 a.m. kickoff were just part of the ritual. She also could never turn down a game of cribbage, sequence, stack, gin rummy, mah jongg, or almost any other game lying around. She can be credited with her granddaughters’ fantastic fashion sense through the purchase of L.L. Bean dresses for every major milestone in their lives.
Jackie is predeceased by her parents, her brother Bill, her husband Joseph, and her daughter Cathy. She is survived by sons Jeremy Denk of New York City; Joshua Denk and wife, Lyndsy, of Westbrook, ME; Jim Klein and wife, Brenda, of White Bluff, TN; and Christine Wilbur and husband, John, of Zephyr Cove, NV. She is also survived by sister Judy Ross and husband, Gordie, of Freeport, IL; and sister Janet Presley of Brawley, CA; and by grandchildren Maya and Althea Denkmire; John Wilbur; Jonah Klein; Kelly Kalisiak Nicolussi; and Matthew Kalisiak; and great-grandchildren Ethan Nicolussi and Shawn Kalisiak.
A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, June 6, at 3:30 p.m. at Gorham House. In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to KRWG-TV/FM in Las Cruces, NM. Arrangements are entrusted to A.T. Hutchins Funeral Home, 660 Brighton Avenue, Portland, ME.