Jill was born on July 26, 1962, in Ottawa, Kansas to Thomas and Susan Jordan. Jill is survived by her husband of 33 years, Steven Kidwell, children Christopher Kidwell of Prairie Village, Kansas, and Saffron Kidwell of Rolla, Missouri, and sisters Holly Jordan (Teresa Fralix) and Christina Jordan (Wayne Schroeder).
As a pre-teen, she enjoyed and identified with the Little House on the Prairie books. Although she wore pigtails well, she did NOT appreciate being told she looked like a young Melissa Gilbert. As a young teen, Jill relished her role as Nyfrm the Sprite as part of the long-time Lawrence youth theatre company, the Seem-To-Be-Players. Jill attended Lawrence, Kansas public schools, graduating from Lawrence High School. An amazing writer and voracious reader at a young age, Jill was a National Merit Scholar Finalist and earned a coveted Watkins-Burger Scholarship at the University of Kansas. She completed her B.A. in Liberal Arts (French) in 1987 after initially studying textile design. The highlight of her college experience was a study abroad year in Bordeaux, France. Her University experience forged her into the intelligent, strong, liberal, feminist woman most of us knew and loved.
Jill met her husband-to-be Steve while managing the gift shop at the KU Museum of Natural History. They were married in May 27, 1989, at the Danforth Chapel on the KU Campus. Friends would later tell Steve he “married up.” Moving to Kansas City, Missouri, Jill stated emphatically they were “NOT staying in Kansas City.” Thus began 30+ happy years living in the Westport and Brookside neighborhoods in Kansas City and enjoying being close to the treasured Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, Loose Park, and local Edgevale Park and the Trolley Trail. Feline (Athena) and canine (too many to list) fur-babies were followed by children Christopher and Saffron.
Jill always looked for meaningful local employment including time at the Children’s Place, Planned Parenthood, Pryde’s, Women’s Employment Network, and EarthWorks. Following several years of volunteering at the local National Public Radio affiliate, KCUR, Jill enjoyed over 15 years of assistant producing, Sunday morning announcing, and serving as office receptionist. Jill also enjoyed volunteering and participating in many local activities and organizations including visiting nursing homes with therapy dog Poppy, taking voice lessons, helping Brookside Mother’s Association, and supporting her children’s classroom activities. For several years running, she channeled her youth theatre and textile design experience into fantastic kid’s Halloween costumes (including pulling an all-nighter to finish them). Jill found her interest niche in birding, becoming a Missouri Master Naturalist, native plant gardening, and volunteering at the Lakeside Nature Center.
Jill was diagnosed with early-onset dementia in 2018. She received loving support from Steve, sisters Holly and Christina, friend Barbara Holle, and countless other friends and caregivers. Jill showed amazing courage and always maintained her kind, loving spirit or her tender spot for dogs, children, and McLain’s Bakery. Jill spent her final months in the loving, respectful care of the staff at Evergreen Community of Johnson County and their sister hospice association in Olathe, Kansas.
A celebration of Jill’s life will be held at the Carnegie building 200 W. Ninth St. in Lawrence, KS on Saturday, February 25, 2023, at 1:00 pm.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to KU Endowment, P.O. Box 928, Lawrence, KS 66044, to benefit the Jordan-Kidwell Study Abroad Scholarship. Online contributions can be made at www.kuendowment.org/give