Portal, AZ - Rodeo, NM

Serving The Communities Of Portal and Rodeo  (www.portal-rodeo.com)

Jeanne Williams

Dorothy Jeanne Williams was born during the dustbowl days of the Depression in Elkhart, KS, April 10, 1930, and passed away in Portal, AZ, January 30, 2024.  Sadly, each of her three husbands, her son, Michael, and daughter, Kristin, preceded her in death.  She leaves behind several cousins, a nephew and great niece, several stepchildren and many, many friends.

‍ Jeanne’s mother died when she was ten and she moved to the Missouri Ozarks to live with her grandparents.   There was no indoor plumbing, running water or electricity.  Her transportation to and from school was her horse.  Jeanne said she learned determination, resilience and generosity from her grandmother who taught her to farm.

Jeanne was born with a desire to tell stories, and, in fact, she published 69 books with 40 of them being written while she lived in Portal.  Most of her books were set in the western United States and were historical fiction.  Jeanne was only the second female to be invited to join the Western Writers of American and she became an active member, serving on the board and as president and membership chair.

Jeanne received four Spur Awards for outstanding books, the prestigious Levi Strauss Saddleman Award for Lifetime Achievement in Western literature and was inducted into the Western Writers Hall of Fame. She was interviewed on the Today Show and in 1983 her book Cave Dreamers was a New York Times bestseller. Many of her books appeared in Readers’ Digest Condensed Books. Also many were translated into other languages and Jeanne donated her papers and correspondence to Texas Tech University, Southwest Collections, where they will be archived for future research. 

Jeanne was never satisfied with just being an author but was a contributor to what she supported.  She served on the National Board of Defenders of Wildlife for several years and was President and on the Board of the Cochise County Historical Society. In Portal, she served as a firefighter and EMT for 12 years; expanded Sew What activities to include programs, forums and student scholarships, started Chiricahua Historical Society, revived the hiking group and started the book group with long-time resident, Alden Hayes.  She contributed to the Soup Kitchen, bakes sales and whatever was needed.

‍ Portal and Cave Creek Canyon were Jeanne’s home for almost 45 years.  Once settled, she never wanted to live anywhere else again.  Even as her eyesight, hearing and physical mobility began to fail, Jeanne gained energy and was invigorated by Portal activities and her wide, loving group of friends-friends who were like family. 

Judy Alter, Texas Christian University professor, writer and reviewer of Jeanne as an author says it well in her Remembrance letter: In recent years, when tragedy seemed to haunt Jeanne, I was grateful for the Portal family who cared for her. Today I am grateful that you, as her Portal friends, are honoring her life and accomplishments.

In Remembrance of Jeanne, donations may be made to Portal Rescue, PO Box 16331, Portal, AZ 85632.