The spirited, intelligent, outspoken, delightful Doris Jean Krchnak joined our Lord in Heaven on July 12, 2018, in Houston, Texas at the age of 74.
Born Oct. 20, 1943, in Sealy, Texas; Jean was the eldest of four daughters to Emilie Lillian and Cyril Martin Krchnak. Jean attended Immaculate Conception School in Sealy, Texas through the eighth grade. She then attended Sealy High School. While attending she participated in the Tiger Band, where she played the trombone, and was a member of the cheer squad. Jean graduated in 1961.
She married Jeffry Powers in 1966 and moved to southwest side of Houston. Jean found work in Houston for many years including time as an administrative assistant at Transwestern Pipeline Company.
While working full time Jean begin her general studies at the University of Houston in 1968. She took some time away from her studies to focus on work. Jean and Jeffry parted ways not having had children.
Jean was loved and appreciated by many people who valued her friendship, her integrity, her knowledge and her helpfulness. In 1972 Jean enrolled in the University of Houston’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture undergraduate program. She remained part of the college from that moment forward. For many years she served as the curator of visual resources where she compiled an extensive and valuable collection of art and architecture images, concentrating on documentation of Houston buildings, neighborhoods and events. The collection was an invaluable resource for scholars, teachers, architects and students seeking images for lectures, publications and other projects. Her assistance is acknowledged in notes of appreciation appearing in many publications and texts. Her office, containing abundant piles of research, artifacts, and cat memorabilia was a collector’s paradise. The College of Architecture honored her with a Distinguished Service Award. She earned her bachelor of arts in Architecture in 1985. She was passionate about architecture especially the architecture and urban planning of the city of Houston. She kept abreast of developments on those subjects by devouring the New York Times, local newspapers and books on these topics.
Jean was an avid researcher with numerous passions including: gardening, nature conservation, her Czech heritage, Catholicism, Houston tours and museums, the history of Harris and Austin counties, the Third Ward neighborhood of Houston, The Rice Design Alliance where she served on the board of directors, the editorial board of CITE magazine, and the Design and Planning Review of Houston. As well as participated as a guest lecturer on Professor John Lienhard's popular radio program, "Engines of our Ingenuity." She contributed papers to the Houston Assembly of Delphians Chapter. She adored her historic East End neighborhood and was involved with activities there. As an advocate for her neighborhood, Jean was outspoken about the adverse effects of Metro’s Harrisburg rail line during construction.
Jean was a member, donor and active supporter of cultural institutions such as the Menil Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, The Czech Center Museum Houston, UH's Houston Public Media (KUHT and KUHF) and often attended their lectures and other events.
Jean orbited with a group of thinkers who activated a culture of ideas in Houston over the past four decades. When she went out to lunch or dinner with family and friends, it was usually at Bohemeo's, her favorite East End restaurant, near her home and the University.
Jean was devoted to her rescue cats Nicholas, May Belle, and Pippin the Brave. Her cats were very much part of the family and would often send birthday cards to Aunt Jean’s grand nieces and nephews and give Christmas presents to their cousin cats and dogs. As an active volunteer and supporter of the Homeless & Orphaned Pet Endeavor (HOPE) she participated in the Trap Neuter Return program to help reduce the feral cat population in Houston. With a generous heart she took it upon herself to feed these feral cat colonies daily.
One of Jean’s pleasures was scheduling and researching great adventures for herself and three sisters Linda, Cynthia, and Debora to explore hidden gems of Houston. This sometimes included visiting museums, churches, taking tours, and dining at local restaurants. As meticulous as she was at cataloguing art and images for UH she was just as meticulous with keeping track of friends and family birthdays. Like clockwork she made she each of her 12 nephews and nieces and 10 grand nephews and nieces received a birthday card in the mail each year.
Jean was truly one of a kind. She gave so much love and knowledge to this world and will be deeply missed.
She is survived by her sisters; Linda Marie Billig, Cynthia Ann Jousan and husband Donald Jousan, Debora K Schneider and husband Donnie Wayne Schneider as well as her many nephews and nieces.
She was preceded in death by her parents Emilie Lillian and Cyril Martin Krchnak.
A memorial service to celebrate the life of Doris Jean Krchnak was held Aug. 3 at 10 a.m. at St. Michael Catholic Church, 1801 Sage Road, Houston, Texas.
In memory of D. Jean Krchnak, the family asks that any donations be sent to the University of Houston’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, HOPE – Homeless and Orphaned Pets Endeavor, and the Czech Center Museum Houston.