In Passing

Janet Lea Brookover

Janet Lea Brookover

Janet Lea Brookover (Robert) of Fort Collins, Colo., died on Feb. 12, 2022, at the age of 90. Janet was born in Topeka, Kan., on Dec. 29, 1931, to John and Helen (Johnson) Merridith. Janet spent her early years in Topeka and graduated from Kansas State University where she studied English Literature, was a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, and met her future husband Robert J. Brookover. Bob and Jan married on Jan. 27, 1952, in Topeka. They celebrated 70 years of marriage on Jan. 27, 2022.

Janet and Bob enjoyed a second home in Sun Lakes, Ariz., where they developed a love for the scenery and hiking in the area, spent time with relatives from other states, and made new friends who became true treasures of her life. Among our most poignant memories will be that of Janet ballroom dancing with Bob at Sun Lakes community dances.

Janet is survived by her husband Robert J. Brookover; daughters Kris (Dan) Colwell, Kathi (Mark) Delehoy, and Kari (Don) Maher; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. Please visit to read Janet’s full obituary and to share memories and condolences with the Brookover family.

Lloyd Lee “Bud” Johns

Lloyd Lee “Bud” Johns was born Feb. 9, 1928, in Bellefontaine, Ohio, and passed away Feb. 10, 2022, in Gilbert, Ariz., at 94 years old. In 1945 his family moved to Coolidge, Ariz., where after graduating high school, he spent four years working in a sheet metal shop where he became a journeyman. He then attended Arizona State University where he was  president of his fraternity Sigma Nu and received the #1 pin when they went national. In 1955 he earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture, and later that year, he married his wife of 67 years, Diana “Doggett” Johns, before serving in the United States Air Force as a First Lieutenant and a fighter pilot with the 319th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.

In 1960 they moved to Casa Grande, Ariz., where they raised their four sons: Jonathan, Robert (Nancy), William (Angela), and Brian (Trasie). Later, three grandchildren were added to the family: Justen, Delaney, and Devin.

In 1959 he, with two other partners, started their own business, Associated Architects. Today it is the oldest continually run architectural firm in Arizona, currently being run by one of his sons. For the past 33 years, Bud and Diana have lived in Sun Lakes, Ariz. Outside of work, Bud still had a passion for construction, as you would always see him working on a new addition to his cabin or up on a ladder. He loved spending time with family, but also enjoyed fishing, hunting, golf, and recreational poker with friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents Forest and Helen Johns of Coolidge, Ariz., and brother James Johns of Reno, Nev.

Services were held on Friday, March 4, at 10 a.m. at the Valley of the Sun Mortuary in Chandler, Ariz. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Lloyd Johns’ name to Hospice of the Valley.

Georgette Kahn

Georgette Kahn

Georgette “Georgie” Kahn, 95, left this earth on March 10, 2022. Her loving family was at her bedside. Georgie was a longtime resident of Sun Lakes, where she was known for her love of dancing, sense of humor, and loving personality.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, she moved to Arizona in 1978 to join her husband, Jerry. She had retired in New York from a decade as a school bus driver, a job she loved. In Arizona she had another job she loved, working weekends at the Phoenix Swap Meet, where she sold girls’ clothing.

During the week, Georgie kept busy playing cards, going to dances, bargain shopping, and spending time with her family and many friends. Everyone who met her was immediately drawn to her love of life.

She was preceded in death by Jerry Kahn, her husband of 51 years. She is survived by her children Elizabeth Kannberg, Elliott Kahn, Nancy Schaub, sons-in-law Dennis Kannberg and James Schaub, grandsons Derek Lynch, Matthew Kannberg, and Stuart Lynch, great-granddaughters Bailey and Aurora Kannberg, and her brother David Friedland. The family wishes to express their gratitude to Ana Liza Sebaoui, owner of Ana’s Haven in Chandler, whose love and care of Georgette formed a special bond to the end. 

Joan Marie Koch

Joan Marie Koch

Joan Marie Koch, 87, of Sun Lakes, Ariz., passed away in her home in the presence of loved ones on Feb. 25, 2022.

Joan was born March 15, 1934, in Buffalo, N.Y., to Frank and Helen Nemes. In 1955 she met and married the love of her life and partner of 62 years, David Koch, in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Joan was known as “a real firecracker” in life. Lively, opinionated, and sometimes mischievous, she made life an adventure for everyone around her. Joan traveled extensively, both internationally and domestically. She enjoyed meeting new people and trying new things. She walked the streets of Greece, floated the rivers of Alaska, and waded in the oceans of Mexico.

Joan was always impeccably dressed and known for her extensive turquoise jewelry collection. Her style was loud and unapologetic. A flamingo among sparrows, she commanded whatever room she was in with her flashy attire and bold personality.

Joan was a lifelong bridge player and a member of the Sun Lakes Bridge Club. She played to keep her mind sharp and to feed her appetite for competition. When her husband David was alive, they would start their day with a few rounds of Scrabble. David was smart enough to win only occasionally so as to not incur the ire of his beloved wife.

Joan is survived by her children David Koch, Carolyn Hartwig, and Nancy Rhodes; eight grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and many friends.

She was preceded in death by her husband David and her daughter Sandra.

Joan’s family has set up a memorial website. Please visit the site to share your stories and photos:

Lt. Colonel Henry “Hank” Koppelmaa

Lt. Colonel Henry “Hank” Koppelmaa

Lt. Colonel Henry Koppelmaa (Henno) was born in Kuressaare, Estonia, on Sept. 21, 1940, and passed away Feb. 24, 2022. He and his mother immigrated to the United States in August of 1950 when Henry was nine. Henry went through the Lakewood school system in New Jersey, excelling in football and track at Lakewood High School. After graduation in 1959, Henry went to the University of Kentucky and received his Bachelor of Arts in Education degree in 1963, along with a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. He went through Officers Basic Course at Fort Benning, Ga., as well as the Airborne School, earning his jump wings in the Fall of 1964. He entered Flight School at Fort Rucker, Ala., and received his Army Aviator Wings, his Commercial Pilots License, and Instrument Rating in August 1965.

After a year at Fort Bragg, N.C., he was sent to Vietnam in August of 1966 where he flew combat missions as a Forward Air Controller in a single-engine O-1 Bird Dog. He had over 1,500 combat hours and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, and 22 Air Medals. He was released from Active Duty in April, 1969. He joined Pacific Bell Marketing Department in July, 1969, where he remained for 25 years in various sales and management positions.

He also joined the U.S. Army Reserves in 1969 and stayed in the Reserves for 22 more years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2000. He enjoyed the Reserves where he was able to use his teaching skills, teaching the Command and General Staff Course for more than five years, and as Director of Officer Courses for the last two years.

He married Natalie Barlow in 1963 and had three sons, Jeff, Eric, and Christopher (Tobin). They were divorced in 1972. Henry raised all three boys to adulthood and paid for all three boys’ college costs. All graduated and went on with their selected careers.

Henry met Marci Woolever in the Summer of 1988 while teaching the Command and General Staff summer phase courses at the University of Nevada, Reno. Marci was the Head Resident of Nye Hall. This relationship blossomed for eight years, and the couple realized that they wanted to really remain together, marrying in Reno, Nev., on Dec. 7, 1997. They moved to Florida and lived there until July 2000. Then a two-year residency in Lakewood, N.J., and finally a move to Sun Lakes, Ariz., in the Summer of 2004.

Golf and travel became their passions, often playing four or five times a week. Henry was an “average” golfer, using his driver on all holes, regardless of distance to the green. There were times when he had that driver totally trained to do his bidding. Two dozen cruises, a dozen or more travels to Estonia to visit Henry’s relatives, and trips to China, Thailand, Vietnam, Costa Rica, and most of the capitals of Europe took up the summer months. Three or four trips a year to Laughlin were enjoyed with our numerous friends. That group of friends grew to 25 or more in the winter months.

Henry is survived by his wife Marci of 24 years; his sons: Jeffrey, Eric, and Christopher (Tobin); daughters-in-law: Teri, Debi, and Victoria; and grandkids: Kasey and Kyle, Tanner, Lacey, Brandon, and Evelyn.

Cremation will be performed by Valley of the Sun Mortuary, and a national military cemetery will be selected for interment.

Nancy Kraas Maty

Nancy Kraas Maty

Nancy Kraas Maty was born in San Antonio, Texas, on Sept. 20, 1947, to Edith and Alvin Kraas. The family settled in Martin City, Mo., south of Kansas City. At a new Lutheran church in nearby Grandview, Mo., in the 4th grade, she met a boy, and she told her mother, “I’m going to marry Ronnie Maty some day!” They never dated, even though they attended the same church and high school and eventually lived two blocks apart on the same street.

Nancy was very athletic and was voted Most Athletic her senior year in high school, even though they didn’t offer high school sports for girls back then. After graduation from high school in 1965, Nancy attended Central Missouri State College where she was a physical education major and played on the college women’s basketball team.

“Ronnie” Maty also attended CMSC and finally asked Nancy to the 1966 homecoming game. They started dating, and the rest is history! Ron proposed in front of a fireplace on New Year’s Eve 1967, and they were married on Aug. 24, 1968.

Ron and Nancy had a few moves over the years. First, to West Palm Beach, Fla., in 1970 where their first two daughters Kim and Kerry were born, and finally to Mesa, Ariz., in 1977 where their third daughter Katy was born. Minus a brief move to San Diego in 1985, Ron and Nancy called Arizona their home.

Nancy worked as a teacher’s aide at Sirrine Elementary School and then in the front office at Valley Christian High School, both in Chandler, Ariz. Working with children was her calling! She loved kids of any age, and they loved her back! Her daughters will tell you that she was a “second mom to everyone,” and our home was always open to everyone.

When Ron retired in 2016, they moved from their Chandler home of 30-plus years to Sun Lakes. Nancy and her sister Judy Caniglia both became active in the Sun Lakes Women’s Association and made many good friends. Nancy was co-president with friend Andrea Paris for one year.

Nancy loved and was loved by her three daughters, her three sons-in-law, and her five grandchildren, and she loved the Kansas City Chiefs—almost as much as Ron! She also never met a dog or set of dishes she didn’t like!

Though Nancy’s final years had many health issues, she seldom complained about them. She was one tough woman! Ron and Nancy were still able to do some traveling to visit daughters in Michigan and Colorado. Their September trip to visit their daughter in Oregon was regretfully postponed due to COVID concerns, leaving that trip for Ron to complete. Their last trip was in October to visit lifelong friends in Florida.

Nancy injured her right arm in a fall at home and had been in a rehab facility since mid-November and was scheduled to come home on New Year’s Eve. At 3 a.m. on Dec. 31 she told the staff that she was so excited to be going home later that day. She passed away in her sleep from apparent heart failure around 4 a.m. As our pastor said, “She went home, just not to Sun Lakes!”

Nancy is survived by her husband of 53 years, Ron; daughters Kimberly (Jamie) Schneider of Oregon, Kerry (Dale) Hawley and Brian and Ashlyn of Colorado, and Katy (Doug) Burton and Kora, Alex, and Paul of Michigan; sister Judy (Fred) Caniglia of Sun Lakes; and sister Kris (Kurt) Schuler of Missouri.

A Celebration of Life service was held in January. Nancy will be interred in the Garden of Gethsemane at our church in Tempe.

Sharon McGregor (née Troch)

Sharon McGregor (née Troch)

Sharon McGregor (née Troch) passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 17, 2022, at the age of 80. She was born on Aug. 28, 1941, in Park Ridge, Ill. Sharon was preceded in death by her parents Beatrice and Robert Troch, her brothers Robert and Jack, and her son John Robert McGregor. She will be greatly missed by her three daughters: Susan (Greg), Christy (John), and Janeen (George) and her grandchildren: John, Matt, Grace, Mason, Claire, Hailey, McGregor, and Kate. Sharon was full of life, quick to laugh, and very funny. Her joy of life and humor live on in her children and grandchildren. Donations appreciated to Vasculitis Foundation, Children’s Heart Foundation, or American Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Institute.

Sandra (Sandy) Judith Miller

Sandra (Sandy) Judith Miller

Sandra (Sandy) Judith Miller, born Sept. 12, 1934, in Brooklyn, N.Y., died March 11, 2022, at Whatcom Hospice House. She was the loving mother of Scott Miller, Brenda Miller, and Gary Miller; loving mother-in-law to Donna Miller and Denise Miller; and doting grandmother to Brittany Miller, Matthew Miller, Alexandra Milligan, and Elizabeth Miller.

She was married to the love of her life, Arthur Jay Miller, for 61 years. They courted by going to Broadway shows, and she kept every one of the playbills. In 1959 they moved to Northridge, Calif., for Art’s work, where they raised their children. In retirement, they moved to Sun Lakes, Ariz., where they enjoyed many friends and family for over 25 years.

In 2016 they moved to The Willows in Bellingham, Wash., with their beloved dog Maggie Sue. Sandy made friends wherever she went, and she enjoyed her Willows family immensely. She loved puttering about her patio garden, creating beauty for passersby, and she loved to bake cookies for anyone’s birthday (one of her recipes even made it into The Willows dining room rotation!). She participated in the creative writing group and started a Mah Jongg club.

You can honor Sandy’s memory by emulating her way of being kind, attentive, and generous with anyone you meet. Donations can be made in her memory to Whatcom Hospice House or the Whatcom Humane Society. A Celebration of Life will be held at The Willows on April 8.

Valarie Susan Neiman

Valarie Susan Neiman

Valarie Susan Neiman, 73, the beloved wife of  Ellwood “Woody” Neiman (deceased July 19, 2020), passed away peacefully in her memory care facility on the evening of Nov. 25, 2021.

Valarie was born in Phoenix, Ariz., on Feb. 14, 1948, to Lou and Della Crotzer. Valarie was a true Arizona native and enjoyed talking about how much the Phoenix area had changed throughout her life. In 1966 Valarie graduated from Arcadia High School with the prestigious honor of being class Valedictorian. Valarie continued on with her academics, earning her bachelor’s degree at Arizona State and later earning her master’s degree at University of Phoenix. After working at Motorola for many years, she ventured off and started her own business that helped college students prepare and draft their thesis and other important academic papers.

While Valarie was still active, she enjoyed the many activities that Sun Lakes had to offer, especially the dance group and yoga. In her spare time, you could often find her relaxing and reading a book with one of her three cats napping on her lap.

Valarie is survived by her son William “Bill” Savicki and granddaughters Caiden Leigh Murray, Serenity Hazel, and Jayce Cye Henry. She is also survived by her step-children Kim Castro, Melissa (Kevin) Bohannon, and Jason (Julie) Neiman, and step-grandchildren (and their families) Sean (Kelly, Kolt, and Reese) Neiman, Bryan (Alejandra, Santiago, and soon a baby girl) Benjamin, and Tori Neiman.

Valarie and her late husband Ellwood “Woody” Neiman will be laid to rest together, in peace, in the columbarium at Desert Cross Lutheran Church in Tempe, Ariz. We all miss them both dearly but can rest easy knowing they’re now in peace in our Lord’s Kingdom watching over us all.

Claire Newby

Claire Newby

Claire Newby, also known as the Sock Warrior, passed away on Feb. 20, 2022, after battling triple negative breast cancer and COVID-19.

She was born in Paterson, N.J., on Sept. 26, 1954, to Tom and Ruth Newby as the middle child of five and the only daughter. As a child, they moved to Arizona where she was in the first graduating class at the new Mesa High School. She dabbled in many careers, but eventually opened her own company delivering lost luggage for the airlines. After retirement, she enjoyed traveling and sharing her story.

An advocate and active member of cancer survivor groups, Claire shared openly with others struggling with cancer (specifically triple negative breast cancer) and offered words of support and encouragement to sisters in the community. She got her nickname Sock Warrior because of her love of crazy socks, something she would wear to chemotherapy to bring a sense of joy and happiness to a place that seemed so bleak. The only thing bigger than her boisterous personality was her heart.

Claire loved many things, from karaoke to cooking. She especially loved her family. She is survived by her husband Dennis Comnick, her daughters Erin Wood and Elneeta Timmons, and her beloved grandsons Dylan, Kyle, and Brody Wood.