The Story of Liz and her Liz..izm’s
Elizabeth “Liz” Ann (Kethcu) Jewell was born in 1935 in Bangor, Maine, the 4th of eight children to Charles and Bernice Ketchu. Her given name was Georgia, but she changed it as she disliked being called Gha Gha Kaachoo. She thought it sounded like a sneeze.
The family moved to California in the 60s, where she married Phillip Eugene Hamm. They adopted two daughters, Stephanie and Alicia. In 1970, they moved to Kansas when Phil was transferred. Liz worked with Phil for The Dept. of Agriculture. She was an executive assistant, achieving a top secret clearance.
After divorcing Phil, she became more involved with the community and the happenings in Kansas City. “Life is a series of new beginnings,” she would say. If Liz had a true calling, it was sales with her “fake it until you make it” attitude. In 1973, she became a Royals’ Lancer, an organization created by Ewing Kauffman to be ambassadors of the Kansas City Royals. Besides selling season tickets, the Lancers helped with charity events and other activities. Liz excelled, achieving top honors in sales numerous times and earning the Bill Phillips Award. In 2003, she became the first women elected president of the Lancers—quite a special feat out of 72 members. She counted the Kauffmans as friends, frequently travelling with them to spring training and away games, and even on trips. She also knew all of the players on the team, with many of them becoming friends. She would frequently host parties and invite various Royals. At one of these, George Brett became the instant hit of the party when he claimed that a pie didn’t smell right; when Liz’ daughter Stephanie went to sniff it, George pushed her face in the pie. Liz loved telling that story, along with so many others.
Those years were tight at first. But if there was a special event happening in Kansas City, Liz wanted to be part of it. From concerts to sporting events and all forms entertainment, she somehow managed to talk her way into it. She always worked very hard to provide the best for her daughters, even when times were thin and money wasn’t readily available. If it was important to her girls, she would somehow make it happen. She firmly believed, “The worst is No.” Liz could even find tickets to sold-out concerts, like Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five, or the Rolling Stones that Stephanie wanted to attend in 1980. The Kansas City Star even interviewed her during the intermission of that concert. She proved she was never shy about talking to anyone, including the media. When asked why 42-year-old Liz Hamm would risk her ears at the concert other than for her daughter, she answered, “I’ve bought this, and this, and this, and I’m not even on pot!” The article became an instant current event at school the next day.
Through the many lonely years, Liz dated several different suitors. She maintained that “I can be broke all by myself; I don’t need to be broke with someone.” Her life changed when she met Max Jewell on a barstool at Coach’s around 1990. It was love at first sight for both of them. They both liked sports and entertainment. They both enjoyed going to Harrah’s. They both loved being out with people and traveled many places together even on business trips when would state no one else is bringing their wives, that never stopped her. They also discovered that doing things they didn’t love but that the other did, brought a joy of its own. Liz went to all the Mizzou games since Max was an avid fan; Max dutifully carried Liz’s purse when out shopping, stating that he was secure enough in his manhood. Each truly was the love of the other’s life.
Max even let Liz go with her best friend Judy Overton on a medical mission to Cuba, back in the late 90s. Liz took her Beanie Babies to give to the kids in the hospital. She and Judy had dinner with Fidel and Raoul Castro, and “their many many wives.” Later, despite being ordered to stay in their hotel room, Liz wanted to see the town. She climbed over the railing and enjoyed a night out and about.
After Max died, going to Coach’s didn’t feel the same to Liz. Her dear friend Danny owned Touchés, a nightclub off Metcalf, so she started going there. She found a new joy in sitting at the corner of the bar with friends, enjoying a Makers & 7 while people-watching. One time, she noticed Mark Alford of Fox4 News at a table who she would watch every morning, calling him her bed partner. Liz being Liz, she went over to him and told him, “You’ve been in my bedroom more than any other man I know!” which made him laugh. When the music moved her, she’d join the dancers on the floor…or even on top of the bar, once. To this day, she is the only person who’s ever been allowed to dance on the bar.
It was said of her that she was the true definition of a lady. She never went out without impeccable clothing, her makeup on, hair done, and heels on. “Lipstick fixed everything,” according to Liz. She seemed to draw people to her like bees to honey. She never knew a stranger, and believed in surrounding herself with successful people. Liz was a mother-figure to so many, and had a number of pseudo-adopted kids along the way. One such kid, “adopted” following the death of her own mom, called Liz “Mom Jewell.” Liz loved this nickname. Up to the very end, she took so many others under her wing, handing out advice and giving so generously of her time. There’s so many people, so many lives that Liz touched.
Liz Jewell was truly one-of-a-kind. They broke the mold when she was born. And the special spot she held in Kansas City will never be filled.
Elizabeth “Liz” Jewell
Visitation is Wed Sept. 8th at 9am-10am at Johnson County Funeral Chapel; private service follows.
(In lieu of flowers) Memorials may be given to The Alzheimer’s Association or The American Cancer Society.
A celebration of her life will start at Touches, 12:30pm
6820 W105th, Overland Park, KS 66212
All are welcome to attend