Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona on March 28, 1993 · Page 25
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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona · Page 25

Phoenix, Arizona
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 28, 1993
Page 25
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B8 The Arizona Republic Sunday, March 28, 1993 Tovrea mystery: Socialite's killing unsolved after 5 years TOVREA, from page Bl Tovrea's, in exchange for escaping a death sentence. Still, no arrests. Ed Tovrea was a grandson of Edward Tovrea. who came to Arizona C in 1883 and through grit, shrewdness j; and hard work became a millionaire j; cattle baron. At one time, the family j. was- the country's largest dealer in ! Mexican livestock, and Edward To-- vrea introduced individual meat pack-; aging to the industry. Before starting his cattle empire, he k was general foreman during the construction of Gillespie Dam, once served as mayor of Jerome, and was a member of the Constitutional Convention of Arizona in 1910. Establishing feedlots and the main packing plant at what is now Washington and 48th streets, he bought a wedding-cake-style house on a nearby hill from its bankrupt builder. The house still stands, a marvel of curiosity to tourists, but Tovrea lived in it only -six months before he died of pneumonia in 1932. His son, Phil Sr., built another mansion at 5041 E. Van Buren, which is still a Phoenix landmark. The family sold Tovrea Meatpacking Co. in 1947 to Cudahy, another meatpacking concern. During World War II, young Ed Tovrea became a war hero when, as a prisoner of the Germans, he participated in construction of tunnels for the famed "Great Escape," in which 79 prisoners fled to freedom. But Ed was not among them. He was transferred to another prison before the escape. When liberated in spring 1945 after 33 months as a prisoner of w ar, he weighed only 112 pounds. His health was never robust after the experience. At the same time that Ed came home in broken health to Phoenix, Jean Gunter wa 14, living in Redmond, Ore., and only four years away from becoming a bride, then a mother. Born in Siloam, Ark., Jean's roots ran deep there as she was descended through both parents from founders of the town. Unlike the pioneer Tovrea, however, wealth didn't follow their footsteps. Jean's parents suffered through hard times, moving first to Oklahoma and then to Oregon in search of a better life. Siloam became a haven for Jean in later years. She separated from her first husband, Dan Nolan, when her daughter Deborah was a toddler and returned to Arkansas to live with her grandparents. From then until her marriage to Tovrea, Jean wandered from Siloam to Tulsa to Dallas to Fayetteville, Ark., and finally to Phoenix, leaving her daughter with her grandparents while she worked at a variety of jobs, including hairdresser, secretary and waitress. Landing in Phoenix in 1961, Jean worked as a waitress at the Safari Hotel in Scottsdale. An illness forced her return to Arkansas, but after surgery, Jean again headed toward Phoenix and destiny. This time, she studied for her real-estate license during the day and waitressed at night. In 1968, she went to work for Ed Post Realty. She also became Jeanne, not Jean. Through a friend, Jeanne met Ed Tovrea in 1970. He was coming out of his second marriage and had three children by his first marriage: Edward Tovrea Jr., Georgia and Priscilla. None still lives in Phoenix. Ed and Jeanne were married early in the 1970s, and by 1980, they had moved into the development at 3500 E. Lincoln Drive. Friends of the Campaign fighting the blues About 35 percent of all adults in Maricopa County are at risk of suffering from clinical depression at some time in their lives, according to the Mental Heahi Association of Maricopa County, which has joined a national campaign to educate the public about the problem. Many &re not aware that clinical depression is treatable with counseling, medication or both, association officials said during a breakfast Wednesday to kick off the rune-month campaign. The association is one of 3 1 agencies in the country selected to use money from a grant from Eli Lilly and Co. to educate the public. People who suffer from one or more symptoms for more than two weeks are encouraged to seek treatment, association officials said. Warning signs include feelings of sadness or irritability, loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed; changes in weight or appetite; changes in sleeping patterns; feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless; inability to concentrate, remember things or make dwisions; fatigue or loss of energy; ps'lebMiess or decreased activity; coniplairiu of physical aches and pains for which no medical explanation can be found; and thoughts of d'-atii or suicide. A free brochure about the illness is available by calling 1-800-969-6642. Additional information is available by calling the mental-health association at 381-1591. couple said that they were gloriously happy and that Jeanne finally had realized her long-sought dreams of love and wealth. If there were problems other than Ed's health, they came from Ed's children. People in jvhom Jeanne confided said the relationship with them was far from amicable. . A woman who sold real estate with Jeanne and remained a close friend said the problems with Ed's children flared up to the end there was even a conflict about his ashes at the mortuary. Ed suffered from emphysema and was an invalid for the last two years of his life. Friends said Jeanne stayed by his side and nursed him night and day until his death in 1983. Court documents show he left the bulk of his multimillion-dollar estate to his wife and a trust fund for his three children, payable to them upon Jeanne's death. Widowed and rich, Jeanne decided to blossom. She had extensive cosmetic surgery, bought new and fashionable clothing, became an art collector, and traveled wherever she wanted to go. She became even more philanthropic than when Ed was alive, spreading her funds generously among several charities. In December 1987, at a rodeo cowboys' reunion, Jeanne ran into a former rodeo rider whom she had met 30 years earlier during a heavy romance with a Texas rodeo cowboy named Danny Daniels. Daniels was also a gambler and came to an unfortunate end when he was shot in the head during an -argument over a card game. Eddy Akridge, a top rodeo money winner from 1953 to 1961, was a casino host at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas when the two renewed their friendship. They also fell in love, and Jeanne's friends said they had never seen her so "delirious," "glowing," "madly in love." Jeanne visited Las Vegas. Akridge came to Mesa for a golf tournament two months before her death and spent all his time with Jeanne. Unfortunately, said some Mesa residents who knew Akridge, he had a wife who would never, under any circumstances, let him go. Jeanne planned a gala party on April 18 and had sent out more than 200 invitations to the Western-theme affair. She had told friends it was to be a very special event. When Akridge accompanied Jeanne's body to Arkansas for burial, he told family members they were to have been married in two weeks. That would have coincided with the date of her party. Apparently, problems with Ak-ridge's wife had been worked out. Jeanne had told several friends that she and Ed Jr. had squabbled several times recently but that the disagreements seemed to have ceased. . On that first weekend in April 1988, life's carousel dangled a gold ring in front of Jeanne's reaching hand. She planned to spend the weekend in Las Vegas. Departure was only a few hours away when she returned home from dinner with friends about 7 p.m., smiling to the guard at the gate. 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