Former Ajijic resident Alice Janice (Jan) Dunlap died Friday, October 19, in Los Angeles, California at the age of 91.
Born on June 15, 1927, in Addison, Texas, Dunlap was among the 11 offspring of Clinton Adolphus Dunlap and his wife Janice Blackburn,who was a descendent of an aide to U.S. President George Washington.
While studying sociology at Southern Methodist University, she met husband Ramón Rivas Jr., the father of four of her five children. The family lived in Puerto Rico for a decade. Enrolled at the University of Texas at El Paso some years later she met artist Wesley Penn who became her next spouse. The couple put down roots in Ajijic in 1967.
Dunlap and her children remained in Ajijic after Penn’s death in a 1970 highway accident. She opened an art gallery in the village named in his honor. She became local icon in ensuing years as proprietress of a succession of popular watering holes through the 1970s and 1980s, such as El Tejabán, Big Mama’s and El Topanco. Her warm-hearted nature made her a great hostess and dear friend to fun-loving Mexican and expat residents of the era, known collectively as The Rowdy Bunch.
Due to declining health, Dunlap and her last husband, Michael Shapiro, resettled in California in 1998. Once there she founded the Grandmothers Against Smoking campaign to discourage young people from picking up the unhealthy habit.
She accomplished a long-time dream at the age of 90 with the publication of “Dilemma,” (Sombrero Books, 2017), a novel about drug-dealing loosely based on her life in Ajijic. A second book is due to come out next year.
Dunlap was predeceased by daughter Janina Rivas in 1973 and son Ricardo Rivas in 2015. She leaves behind husband Michael Shapiro, sons Michael, Ramón and Roberto and numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.