Cover photo for Julene (Jodie) Kelson Acton's Obituary

Julene (Jodie) Kelson Acton

July 26, 1930 — December 4, 2023

Julene (Jodie) Kelson Acton

Julene Kelson Acton was born in Los Angeles on July 26, 1930, to Lolan and Nelda Kelson. She didn’t like the name Julene and always went by the name Jodie. She was the eldest of 5 children. Her siblings were, Jed Lolan Kelson, Clair Hyer Kelson (who died in infancy), Richard Dale Kelson and Carolyn Kelson Dunn. She outlived all her siblings, which was a source of pain for her. Her brother, Richard, was born with a heart defect which caused his death at 29 in 1973. Jed passed away in 2017 at the age of 84. Carolyn passed away very suddenly in 2019 at the age of 73. Jodie was 93 when she passed. In her last days, she longed to be reunited with her family.

Jodie grew up in California. Her father was a baker for Golden Krust Bakery. At the age of nine, her family moved to Indio, California to start their own bakery, called Tastee Bakery. At that time, Indio was a very small, very hot desert community. There were also not very many members of the church. Lolan and Nelda started a branch of the LDS church and conducted church meetings in their living room. They lived in Indio for 3 years, and Lolan said he considered their time there as a mission for the church. It was while they were living in Indio that an oven blew up in Lolan’s face. He was burned all over his body, except where his garments covered his skin. Lolan often shared that story as a testimony of the blessings of the gospel.

The bakery was not a financial success, so the Kelson’s relocated to Los Angeles and Lolan continued to work in bakeries. He eventually started delivering for bakeries and then started his own food truck. Jodie had many memories of working with her Dad making deliveries.

Jodie graduated from Marshall High School in LA. After high school, she worked at the perfume counter in a department store and then as a switchboard operator for the phone company. The switchboard she used was the old-fashioned kind with cables and plugs. She would have to announce the call and then plug the line into the right hole to connect the call.

In 1956 Jodie’s roommate, Jo Anne, and her boyfriend, Joe Conte set her up on a blind date with Joe’s friend Don Acton. Don was attending Glendale College and studying accounting. He told Joe that he had too much homework to go on a date, but Joe convinced him. Don and Jodie went to see the movie “Love is a Many Splendored Thing” on their first date. Joe and JoAnne Conte became lifelong friends of Don and Jodie. Don stopped smoking when he started dating Jodie. It was a bad habit he picked up in the Navy. He always said that Jodie saved his life by making him stop smoking. He joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they were married on April 12, 1957, in her parent’s home. They had four daughters, Carol Lynn, Anne Louise, Ellen Mae and Janice Dawn. Jodie gave all her daughters middle names because she did not have one. Nelda believed that girls didn’t need middle names because they would get married, and their maiden name would become their middle name. But Jodie wanted her girls to have their own middle names. Some of her daughter’s names came the soap operas that she loved to watch and discuss with her mother, others were family names. Don and Jodie were sealed in the Los Angeles Temple in June of 1958 when Carol was a month old.

Don and Jodie bought their first home in Eagle Rock. It was taken by the state for the construction of the 134 freeway. They then moved to Glendale. The house in Glendale had a pool. The pool was a major draw for the neighborhood kids. During the summer, Jodie would put a flag on the front lawn to invite neighbors to come swimming during a specific time. The rule was that no child could ask “if/when the flag would be put out” and they could not swim without a parent, so while the kids swam the women visited. Kids from several blocks around the house would come to our street to see if the flag was up. It was typical 1960s life.

Jodie encouraged her girls to read. They often made trips to the local library and picked out several books each. They would then pass them around and discuss them. Don and Jodie bought a small trailer when was commuting to San Bernardino for a construction job. They would take the trailer beach camping north of Los Angeles. The trailer had an upper bunk that was always full of books.

Don was a master electrician with the IBEW union and Jodie was a stay-at-home Mom. Family was very important to Don and Jodie. Jodie made a lot of the girl’s clothes. She was always sewing. When they were little, the girls had matching outfits for Easter every year until they grew old enough to object. But even then, she still made them clothes. She would take them to the fabric store to pick out material and patterns instead of shopping at department stores. She would often make Carol a new dress for church dances and finish hemming it right before Carol ran out the door. Carol remembers getting in the car and sitting on the pins in the hem. For a time, Don’s mother lived with them, and they remodeled the house in Glendale to be more accessible for her.

In the late 70s when the girls were all in school, Jodie reluctantly went back to work. She worked for Medtronic for several years delivering pacemakers to hospitals. She would wear a pager in case she had an emergency delivery. Sometimes she would have one of the girls call her pager if she wanted to get out of something she did not want to do, like choir practice.

They lived in Glendale until 1978 when they moved to Big Bear for a time and then they lived in Burbank.

In 1979 Carol got a job at Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a summer hire secretary. She worked there every summer while she was going to BYU. During that time, she got her sister’s jobs there and then her Mom. All the Acton women worked at JPL at some point in their careers. Jodie worked as a secretary at JPL and made many friends. She was known for bringing her seven-layer-dip to every office party. For a time, Jodie and Carol carpooled to work together when Carol lived in Sun Valley. Jodie retired from JPL in 1994 on the same day that Carol went on maternity leave to have her youngest son, Nicholas.

Don and Jodie sold their home in Burbank to buy a multi-dwelling property in Granada Hills so that Jodie’s parents could live with them. The property had two houses and a recreation space that Don converted to a studio apartment. It was just down the street from Ellen’s home. Nelda, Jodie’s mother, had developed Alzheimer’s and Lolan needed help caring for her. Janice lived in the apartment between the two houses with Don & Jodie in the front and Lolan & Nelda in the rear. Don and Jodie would escape for weekends in the RV and Janice would help with Lolan and Nelda in their absence. Nelda passed away in 1989 and Lolan passed in 1996, a few years after moving to Tucson, Arizona to live closer to Jodie’s sister Caroline.

Don & Jodie were in Granada Hills when the 1994 Northridge earthquake hit. They were remarkably close to the epicenter. Thankfully their house was not too damaged, but Jodie lost her extensive snow global collection and many broken dishes. It was at the Granada Hills house that they expanded their recreational vehicle to a motorhome. They spent many years with a trailer and camper combination but made the move to a motorhome to prepare for full-time RV life. Don retired 2 years before Jodie, so they took a lot of small trips until she retired.

After she retired, they sold the Granada Hills house and bought an even bigger motor home. They were full time RVers for 20 years and loved it. They traveled all over the country. Some of their favorite places were Branson, Missouri and Phoenix, Arizona for the Dodgers Spring training. Then they would go down to Tucson to visit Jodie’s sister, Carolyn. Jodie loved visiting her sister, Carolyn. When the two of them were together, they laughed all the time.

They would spend every January in Laughlin, Nevada for Don’s birthday and the Super Bowl with Don’s cousins. They bought an RV spot in Aguanga, California, 10 miles east of Temecula where Anne was living at the time. By that time Ellen was living in Washougal, Washington so would spend winters in Aguanga and summers in Washougal stopping by Foster City on the way to visit Janice. You would know that Don & Jodie were on their way to visit when a package of their mail arrived in your mailbox.

Eventually they sold the spot in Aguanga and bought a home in Washougal, Washington to use as their home base. The house in Washougal had a separate parking place for the RV. When Jodie fell out of the RV for the third time, seriously injuring her back and having to be transported back to Washougal, their daughters told them they had to stop the RV life, and they sold the RV. That was very hard for them, and they often reminisced about their RV adventures.

Don & Jodie lived in Washougal for 15 years. After Jodie fell and fractured her hip, in 2021, they had caregivers that would come and assist them with their daily activities. They moved to Utah at the beginning of November when it became necessary for Jodie to have 24-hour care.

Jodie passed away peacefully on December 4th with Don and Anne at her bedside. She will be buried in Forest Lawn, Glendale on Friday, January 5th after a service at the Wee Kirk of the Heather.


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