Nellie Jane Whitton
Nellie Jane was born on a farm near Stilwell, KS, the daughter of Howard and Edith Hays. The farm was near 180th and Mission Road and is now part of the Camp Branch Park that currently is being developed by Johnson County Parks & Rec. She graduated from Stilwell High School and Fort Scott Junior college with a teaching certificate. She used that to teach at a one-room schoolhouse near 199th and Mission Road during WW II. She decided that teaching 8 grades at once was too much and rented a room in a house with a family in Kansas City, MO. One of the family’s sons came home from the war and that is how she met her future husband Charles Mitchell Whitton. They married on April 22, 1945. Charles worked for the Santa Fe Railroad.
Born of this marriage were three daughters who survive, Connie Whitton Clark of Roeland Park, KS, Karen Whitton of Merriam, KS, and Cindy Whitton (Howard Rosenthal) of Southlake, TX. The family moved to a house in Roeland Park in 1955 and Nellie Jane lived there independently until her death (67 years) three weeks after falling and breaking her pelvis. In the 50s and 60s, she was a typical homemaker, but to make ends meet, she sold Avon, briefly held a job as Secretary at Roeland Park Elementary (she was forced to quit after getting pregnant), and then babysat children in her home, several of whom who have maintained life-long relationships with her and the family.
Charles Mitchell died in 1966 when Nellie Jane was 43. As a result, she got a job at Jones in Prairie Village working in the office. Eventually, she got a job at Black & Veatch, working for over 25 years and retiring in 2001. Her co-workers at B&V became her second family.
Her world changed when her grandson Isaac Mitchell Rosenthal was born in 1997; he was the light of her life. She spent many hours spoiling him. Her house is decorated with pictures of Isaac for every year of his life. She even became an Oklahoma State basketball fan for him when he attended there.
Nellie Jane loved to travel and took trips with friends and family all over the world. She and her youngest daughter took a month-long tour of Europe in 1985 which ended up conflicting with the Royal’s road to the World Series (she was very unhappy she was not in Kansas City at the time). She LOVED the Royals and for many years she had season tickets. She attended opening day every year until she was in her early 90s. She also loved KU Jayhawk basketball. She was thrilled when in her final days she received a video from Coach Bill Self sending her a personal message. She knew all the players and stats for both teams. She never wanted any visitors during a game because she did not want to be distracted.
She loved reading (especially books by John Grisham), gardening, working jigsaw puzzles, and watching movies. She was a lover of cats all her life.
She also leaves behind her brother Ralph Hays of Overland Park, KS, and is predeceased by her sisters June McCallum and Lois Farris.
A Celebration of Life picnic is scheduled for April 23rd on what would have been her 100th birthday at the main house patio in Antioch Park at 1 pm. At her request, no other services were held.
Donations in her memory may be made to Habitat for Humanity, Cross-Lines Community Outreach, or a charity of your choice. For more information about the picnic, email Connie Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.