Jan’s life was full of caring and compassion for others. She showed those characteristics everyday as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. They also guided her decades long career as a nurse – which is something she was very proud of. She rarely talked about herself. Instead, she skillfully redirected most conversations away from her. With Jan, it was always about others.
Born June 1, 1938, in La Junta, Colo., to Don and Ruth Buck, she grew up in nearby Fowler, Colo., with younger brother Dick. The family believed in spending time together, working hard, and education. Her father was in the newspaper business and her mom taught high school English, among other subjects. Jan was always the tallest in the class and stood smiling in the center of the back row in grade school photos. She was a good student, played in the band, and liked sports. She worked at a local diner as a waitress. She and her brother were very close – something that continued throughout their lives.
When it was time for college, she chose the University of Colorado to study nursing, which ended up being a perfect career choice – not only for her, but for the people she cared for.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1960, she began a career working long hours and graveyard shifts at Denver General Hospital in Denver. She knew she had chosen the right career path, but she also wanted other things in life.
Jan also wanted to be a wife and mother. During college she dated John Fuller, who she met in Fowler, where he taught high school. On their dates they might get milkshakes at the local drive-in. They began talking about a future together and married June 19, 1960, in Fowler. John says it was the happiest day of his life. They started their family. Jim was born in 1961 in Idaho, followed by John in 1964 and Jeanne in 1967, both born in Denver. She loved being a mom.
When her kids were young, she would take them with her to the bowling alley, where she bowled in a competitive women’s league. She had fun, but always wanted to win. As the kids grew and started school, she wanted to return to work. But she didn’t want to be away from them for those long nursing hours.
The solution: she volunteered as the school nurse at Walnut Hills Elementary School, about three blocks from the house in suburban Denver. Jan then became the first nurse in the district assigned to only one school. She loved her role, in part because she could be home in the mornings and afternoons. She soon convinced district administrators to pay nurses and expand health services. “Mrs. Fuller,” as she was known to her students and parents, could patch up playground gashes with the best of them, but also became a trusted confidant to students who needed help in other ways. She especially enjoyed assisting children with disabilities. She worked at Walnut Hills for more than 25 years, before retiring in 1994.
During the years her children were in school, Jan and John attended hundreds (maybe thousands) of their kids’ sporting events, concerts, and various other events. Jan was always there, even during snow flurries at a baseball game or sub-zero temperatures at a cross country meet. In the summers, it wasn’t unusual to eat dinner at 9 p.m. The time didn’t matter to her. Having her family eat together did.
Jan enjoyed her retirement years. She was an avid reader and visited the library frequently to get a new stack of books. She loved gardening, giving equal attention to her outside flower gardens and inside house plants. She had close relationships with the neighbors, especially those who lived on the same block and children had grown up together. She helped organize – and often hosted – neighborhood gatherings. She took walks every day – snow or shine. Her love of music, which began as a young girl, continued throughout her life. At Christmas, she (on piano) and Jeanne (flute) would play carols to the delight of the family. For Jan, the simple things in life provided the most pleasure.
Her relationships with her eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren were as special to her as those with her own children. She remembered their birthdays and would make sure they had a card in the mail when the day arrived. She went to their games and concerts. She loved seeing them and hearing about their lives – whether they were 30 years old or three.
With Jan, it was always about others.
Jan passed peacefully in her sleep surrounded by family on Nov. 5, 2023, at the age of 85. Her parents, Don and Ruth, preceded her in death. She is survived by her husband John H. Fuller of Denver; her brother Dick Buck (Sharon) of Page, Arizona; her three children: Jim (Brenda) Fuller of Pella, Iowa; John (Sherry) Fuller of Johnston, Iowa; and Jeanne (Stephen) Clifton of Longmont, Colorado; her eight grandchildren: Tyler Fuller, Aaron Fuller, Allison Clifton, Elizabeth Clifton, Drew Fuller, Alexis Fuller, Sadie Fuller, and Kamden Fuller; and her two great grandchildren: Madison Fuller and Mackenzie Fuller.
Dates of interest
- Born: June 1, 1938 in La Junta, Colo.
- Graduated University of Colorado (Bachelor of Nursing): June 2, 1960
- Married to John H. Fuller: June 19, 1960 – 63 years married
- Career as school nurse at Walnut Hills Elementary School, Centennial, Colo: 25 years
- Died: November 5, 2023 at the age of 85.
If you plan to attend the funeral at Olinger’s please call John Fuller at 303-850-9838 for a head count.