Blue Springs’ Adell J. Morrison Janzen may have an unusually long name.

Blue Springs’ Adell J. Morrison Janzen may have an unusually long name.

Her mission in life, however, can be summarized in short.

“To serve and to entertain,” she says.

Janzen says she abides by two precepts she learned from Indians in Mexico: Respect your elders and respect Mother Earth.

“That’s what I live by,” Janzen says.

Post-retirement, she is every bit as vital as her strawberry blonde hair may indicate.

“If you really want to see something, give me a ukulele,” says Janzen, who has been playing the instrument since she was a girl living in Hawaii.

These days Janzen – a former Kansas City schoolteacher – busies herself as a volunteer, whether it’s assisting with home communion and helping to sort recyclables at the First Christian Church of Blue Springs or performing for a fundraiser before a congregation of 50 at First Baptist Church of Blue Springs. In January, Janzen presented at First Baptist a musical variety act she titled “The Many Hats of Adell.” Some of the caps she donned included a cowboy hat, a sombrero and a Bavarian hat. Aside from a cowpokey rendition of “Cool Water,” Janzen sang tunes in the native language of whichever hat she wore. Her last act was a gesture to her Hawaiian upbringing.

“It was very well received,” says Janzen, who began singing at age 5; she and her sisters – referring to themselves as Three Girls – entertained aboard cruise ships and, eventually, all across the United States.

As much as Janzen enjoys performing in front of an audience, it’s her weekly volunteer gigs at area nursing homes that she loves most.

Each Friday morning, she tosses various materials into a bag and drives to Country Oak Village in Grain Valley.

“They know me as the bag lady,” Janzen says.

Sometimes she’ll stuff furs – particularly a raccoon she calls Cooney – and other times she’ll insert coral, sea shells or rocks she found on her old Montana property.

“I tell them how Indians believe there’s a spirit in a rock that calls to your spirit,” Janzen says. “A lesson can be learned from any object.”

Janzen, who refers to her exhibition as show and tell, often will bring newspaper articles and cartoon strips that she reads aloud.

“What I’m trying to do is trigger their imagination,” Janzen says. “I think even elderly people in assisted living facilities are very cognizant people who just need to have the subject pronounced to them.”

According to Jennifer Hamblin, the executive director of Country Oak Village, Janzen is an inspiration to all who reside at the facility.

“It’s very nice what she does,” Hamblin says. “The residents love her; we all love her.”

Elsewhere in places such as Independence’s Villages of Jackson Creek and Monterey Park Nursing Center, Janzen works closely with activity directors to generate ideas for entertainment.

“Anything I can do to help, I’ll do,” she says.