Jan Goehring of Littleton, who inspired lawmakers to engage young people in how democracy works and whose steadfast message of hope, faith and resilience was an inspiration to family and friends, died March 4 at Denver Hospice after a valiant year-long battle with ovarian cancer. She was 55.
In her online journal, Jan wrote a month before her death: "One of the great life lessons I have learned through this journey is that people really do want to reach out and help. I have been amazed and humbled by how willing everyone is to help us meet our needs--and there were many. All I needed to do was learn to say "yes."
Born Janet Anne Buxton on Sept. 9, 1957, she grew up in the Denver suburb of Bow-Mar. She was the youngest of four children of Janet and Charles Buxton, the late editor and publisher of The Denver Post, and often traveled with her parents on trips worldwide. She graduated from Columbine High School in 1975, the school's first graduating class, and was a volunteer counselor in the aftermath of the Columbine shootings.
She graduated from Stanford University in 1979 with a B.A. degree in human biology. She earned a J.D. degree in 1983 from the University of Denver Law School, where she was on the law review, and subsequently clerked with the late U.S. District Court Judge Sherman Finesilver in Denver. She worked as an attorney for the City of Denver and in Santa Clara County, California, specializing in child abuse, domestic violence and juvenile cases.She joined the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures in 1996, and over 17 years became Program Director for the Trust for Representative Democracy. She was instrumental in helping develop a back-to-school program for lawmakers to visit classrooms and talk about the democratic process and what it's like to be a legislator.
Lee Hamilton, a former member of Congress and director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University who was an advocate for education about representative democracy, said:
Karl Kurtz, director of the trust, said of Jan:
Jan and her husband, Jeff Goehring, a graphic artist, would have celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary this month. They devoted themselves to raising their son, Daniel, 13. Jan and Daniel were regular volunteers at the Carson Nature Center in Littleton, participated with the Hawk Quest program for wild birds and were frequent visitors to the Denver Zoo. One of her happiest moments came last fall in a trip to Hawaii, where Daniel spent a day swimming and playing with dolphins.
In addition to her love of the outdoors, she was an avid tennis player and skier and volunteered for the disabled skiing program at Winter Park. She also had a special affection for Disneyland and Disney characters.
Legislative staffers who worked with Jan spearheaded a scholarship fund for Daniel Goehring. Contributions can be made in his name to Schwab Custodial Brokerage. To learn more about Jan's donations click here.
In addition to her husband and son, Jan is survived by her sister, Cynda Wilcox of Bethesda, Md., and brothers, Charles Buxton, Jr. of San Diego, California, and Richard Buxton, of Dallas, Texas.
A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 10, at St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 8817 S. Broadway, Highland Ranch. A reception will follow at the church.