Centennial couple shares personal connection to Veteran’s Day

Resident Profiles
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Posted: January 4, 2024

Holly Creek residents families’ history covers three wars

Individually, both Malin and Jan Jones have Colorado family roots. Combined, their family roots include service in World War II and the Vietnam War, and support for World War I by training war horses.

Malin Jones’s family came to Colorado right after World War II. Born and raised in Denver, Malin was part of the second graduating class at George Washington High School in 1962. After high school graduation, Malin enrolled at Colorado State University. While he was in school, his draft status was deferred, but when he graduated in 1966, Malin’s draft status rose to the top. It was time for Malin to make a decision. He knew he was going to be in the war, so he decided to enlist in the U.S. Army as a medical service corpsman.

The rising casualty rate in Vietnam had created increased need for hospital administrators, so the Army instituted a college program that trained graduates to be hospital administers. After enlisting, the Army sent Malin to Baylor to receive his master’s degree.

Malin rose in the ranks quickly and was promoted to captain after graduating from Baylor and was assigned to a hospital at the U.S. base in Long Binh, Vietnam. There, Malin was tasked with evacuating and triaging wounded soldiers to hospitals in the South Pacific and eventually back to the states. Malin earned a Bronze Star for his service, and after the war, became a hospital administration professional, eventually working as CEO of several managed care systems, including creating the first HMO for patients and providers in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.

Jan’s Colorado roots began in Ireland with the migration of her family to the U.S. Her great grandfather on her father’s side came to Ireland after the potato famine and settled in Wray. There, Jan’s paternal grandfather, Harold Willoughby helped his father raise and train Calvary horses that were shipped to France to serve in World War I.

“My grandfather Willoughby was 14 when World War One started, and by that time his older brothers had left the farm,” said Jan. “My great uncles, James and Paul, enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in France. Harold was the only son left on the farm, so he helped his father run the farm and train Calvary horses.”

from L to R Harold Willoughby, Paul Willoughby (in uniform), unidentified friend and James Willoughby (in uniform)
from L to R Harold Willoughby, Paul Willoughby (in uniform), unidentified friend and James Willoughby (in uniform)

Jan’s mother’s side also hails from Ireland. Jan’s mother, Sarah Theresa Muldoon was born in Northern Ireland and her grandfather, Dale Muldoon emigrated to the U.S. in the 1930s.

It took 18 years to bring the rest of the family over from Ireland, including Jan’s maternal grandmother Tessie, her mother Sarah, and Sarah’s sisters Johanna and Cecilia.

“The family was finally together again in 1948. My grandfather sent money back to the family all those years and had to wait for the end of World War Two, but it finally happened,” said Jan.

After the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941, Jan’s father, Dale Willoughby was a 17-year-old chomping at the bit to join the war against Japan.

“Dad was too young to enlist, so my grandparents had to sign a letter giving him permission to do so, and he joined the U.S. Navy, where he was assigned to be a cook on naval ships and sailed across the world,” said Jan.

After the war, Dale Willoughby met Sarah Muldoon, moved to Hammond, Indiana, and started a family of their own, which included their daughter Jan. Jan received her bachelor’s in microbiology from Indiana University and moved to Colorado with her first husband. There, she worked as a microbiologist at Denver General Hospital.

Jan eventually hit the proverbial glass ceiling in her profession, was divorced and a single mom. “I needed to change careers to make more money, so I went back to school at the University of Northern Colorado and got my master’s in business management.”

Jan went on a career in the field of medical sales and became one of the first female regional directors for Smith Kline, a medical and pharmaceutical company now know as GlaxoSmithKline – GSK. It was during this time Jan met Malin.

“It was the mid-’70s, and I moved into Jan’s neighborhood,” said Malin. “I was an eligible bachelor. Jan was a divorcee. We both worked in the medical profession, and before you knew it, we were married in 1978.”

Malin finished his professional career by starting a life insurance company and eventually recruited Jan to help him. Together they ran their successful business until retiring in the 2000s.

The Joneses moved into a cottage home at the Holly Creek Life Plan Community earlier this year and today, Jan and Malin pursue new passions including collecting and translating ancient Gregorian chant manuscripts.

“Both Jan and I love music, and I’ve played trumpet for 30 years. Jan studies Latin and has an interest in the history of Christianity, so on our travels years ago, we purchased some ancient Gregorian chants, written on animal skin parchments. That lead to Jan translating the words into English and today, we have a very wonderful collection of Gregorian chants,” added Malin.

“We chose Holly Creek because we love to travel, and we wanted to save our kids from the hassle of moving all our belongings and having to get rid of everything. So we sold and donated a lot of our possessions and moved to Holly Creek to serve as a jumping point to destinations around the world,” said Jan.

In fact, Jan is a dual citizen of both the U.S.A and Ireland. “I’m so excited about direct Aer Lingus flights from Denver to Dublin,” exclaimed Jan. “Just last year, we were debating on buying a small castle in Ireland, called Blackwater Castle, and retiring there. But we came to our senses and decided Holly Creek is the best place for us to be.”

This Veteran’s Day, the Joneses reflected on Malin’s service in the Vietnam War, Jan’s father’s service in WWII and her paternal grandfather and great grandfather Willoughby raising Calvary horses in Wray, Colorado for World War I.

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Holly Creek Active Senior Living Community is owned and managed by Christian Living Communities and is a full service life plan community. We offer active Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care as well as Skilled Nursing, and Rehabilitation. Holly Creek Active Senior Living Community is located in Centennial, Colorado and services the areas in and around Greenwood Village, Englewood, Columbine, Cherry Hills Village, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Heritage Hills, Meridian, Dove Valley, Stonegate, Parker, Aurora, Lakewood, and South Denver. We also are an ideal senior community for those in the zip codes 80122, 80120, 80121, 80111, 80130, 80126, 80129, 80112, and 80124.

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