Cover photo for Janice (JJ) Lerich's Obituary
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Janice (JJ) Lerich

December 17, 1956 — July 17, 2023

Carlsbad

Janice (JJ) Lerich

Janice (JJ) Lerich passed away peacefully at her home in Carlsbad, NM surrounded by family and friends on 17 July 2023 after a battle with cancer.  JJ was born 17 Dec 1956 in Fort Worth, TX, to Richard Carlous Jones and Gloria Jean Lewis Jones, while her father was serving in the US Air Force at Carswell AFB.  As a young girl JJ lived with her parents in Kyllberg, Germany until she and her mother moved back to the US due to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The family came to Alamogordo, NM when JJ's father was stationed at Holloman AFB where he served as an air traffic controller. JJ graduated from Alamogordo High School in 1974.  She married Klad Zimmerle and they had a daughter, Desiree Sunshine. JJ met the love of her life, Scott P. Lerich, in Orogrande, NM in 1993 and they were married in May 1994 in San Antonio, TX. Grandson Dean Anthony (Bubba) Thatcher was born in Anchorage, AK in 1997. 
JJ worked as a Vet Tech for a number of years before entering nursing school. She graduated with an associate's degree in nursing from New Mexico State University - Alamogordo and started work at the old Gerald Champion Memorial Hospital (GCMH) on 10th Street as a Registered Nurse (RN). After various positions, JJ worked in and eventually managed the ICU at GCMH where she made many friends.  JJ served as an RN for over 28 years in New Mexico and west Texas, and loved her work.

Scott's work as a wildlife biologist took them to Texas for 10 years where they lived in Brewster County, Lubbock, and Amarillo, before moving back to Alamogordo in 2008. JJ started making pottery and then quilting while living at Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area near Alpine, TX, where she enjoyed the peace and quiet.  JJ loved hosting the many interesting visitors, both family and scientists, who came to Elephant Mountain through her years there, and she especially enjoyed watching the elf owls and pallid bats that visited her on the back porch of the house.

JJ enjoyed quilting, sewing, making pottery, online games, wine, gardening, and traveling.  JJ traveled halfway around the world with Scott and they were making plans for a trip to Ireland when the pandemic shut the world down in 2020. Especially enjoyable were a couple of trips to Europe, a very interesting trip to Chihuahua, Mexico in 2019, cruises, and a week in Hawaii. She even got temporarily lost at Tulum, Mexico during a visit to a Mayan archaeological site, as life with JJ was often an adventure. JJ also enjoyed training dogs, hunting, and loved to cook big meals for everyone who visited her home to enjoy.

JJ always considered Alamogordo home and owned multiple homes there and in nearby La Luz through the years and she cherished her friends in those communities. JJ and the family would like to thank the staff of Enhabit Hospice, particularly Katrina, Lexi, Debra, Amy, Crystal, Shanya, and Jessica  The family is especially grateful to JJ's caregiver Belle Renteria who provided exceptional care with love and compassion.  JJ was deeply loved by family and friends and will be missed terribly. 

JJ was preceded in death by her parents Richard C. Jones and Gloria Jean Lewis Jones, and her aunt Jan Lewis. JJ is survived by her husband of 29 years Scott P. Lerich, of Carlsbad, NM, her daughter Sunshine Thatcher, of Crossroads, TX, grandson Dean Anthony (Bubba) Thatcher, of Dallas, TX, and dear friends Jennie Taylor of Albuquerque, Lyn Essex of Alamogordo, and Liz Alden of Lakeside, AZ; mother-in-law Florence Maxwell; sister-in-law Melodye Aldrich (Mike); and sister-in-law Sandy Ferry; JJ requested her ashes be scattered at Sunspot, NM, which was a special spot for her. Services are not scheduled at this time.

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