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In memoriam: Jan Brazill was advocate for women’s issues

Jan Brazill

Longtime FFRF Member Jan Brazill died on May 15 in Denver at age 93.

Jan was a frequent contributor to the pages of Freethought Today. In one column, she wrote: “A world without religion could concentrate on the greater good for humanity, employing science and logic rather than dogma. The time, energy and resources now expended on religion could be devoted to preserving our fragile environment for future generations and ensuring that every individual has the means to experience the fullness of the life we’re given.”

She was born to a farming family in Rosen, Ohio, on Nov. 27, 1926. She was the fourth and youngest child with two older sisters and a brother. After high school, her sisters entered secretarial school, but Jan enrolled in college as an English major at a time when not many women took that route.

After college, she took a summer job in Bar Harbor, Maine, on a lark and met and fell in love with Bob Kenney. They had a daughter, Barbara, their only child. Jan became a single parent in the mid-1950s, going to work in the transportation office at Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine. She loved going to the ocean, particularly Acadia National Park, to explore the tidal pools or feed the sea gulls.

She married again in 1962 to George Brazill, and when Dow Air Force Base closed, the family moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., where she worked at the Air Force Academy as a computer programmer/systems analyst in the early days of computing. She was known for her strong work ethic and persistence when approaching computer problems, often serving as the go-to person for program “bugs.”

Jan always had an adventuresome spirit. She and her husband went to Germany in 1981 for four years, where she worked for NATO and traveled at every opportunity.

After her husband had a heart attack, she relocated with him to El Paso, Texas, to live at a lower altitude. There, Jan became active in liberal causes, especially those that dealt with women’s issues. When George’s health improved, they returned to Colorado Springs and Jan retired from civil service.

She and George moved to the Inn at Garden Plaza in 2009. Jan took on many tasks in retirement. She wrote countless letters to the editor in support of what she believed in and was a columnist for the Freethinkers magazine. She was a strong supporter of women’s choice and volunteered at Planned Parenthood with her husband for escort duty.

Jan was a champion of rational thinking and being informed. She facilitated the Inn’s Philosophical Café sessions on Wednesday mornings, researching and presenting information on issues of the moment, especially dealing with political, scientific and environmental topics. The Café was one of the highlights of her week.

She played dominoes and bridge and read vociferously. Generous with her time and attention, she loved to sit with friends over a glass of wine at the inn. Jan was a good listener, always eager to have a spirited conversation.

“Dan and I, who met and corresponded with Jan for many years, as did FFRF founder Anne Gaylor, were very sad to learn of Jan’s death,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF’s co-president. “She was an FFRF member since 1979, who ardently supported women’s right to be free from religious control.”