Jean Kowal Jerome died Nov. 28, 2010. She was born Sept. 9, 1927 in Janesville, Wis., the youngest of the six children of Harry and Mary Kowal.
After graduating from Janesville High School in 1945, she showed the adventurous independent commitment to service that would guide her life by enrolling immediately in Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s nursing program. On completion, she returned to Janesville, where she worked at Mercy Hospital.
She married local boy Bob Jerome in 1948. In 1952 the young family moved to Southern California to follow Bob’s aerospace engineering career. It was here Jean raised their four children.
When Bob and Jean’s marriage ended in 1967, Jean and the children spent a year in Janesville, where Jean returned to nursing at Mercy Hospital. After the family moved back to California, Jean became coordinator for the groundbreaking stroke unit at Santa Ana Community Hospital.
Jean’s deepening understanding of healing led her to end her hospital nursing career in 1976. After a perspective-restoring interlude as the hard-working owner/manager of the Bluebird Motel in Idyllwild with second husband Jim McEwan, Jean returned to nursing, this time working with the pioneering Dr. Evarts Loomis at Meadowlark in Hemet, Calif., at the forefront of the holistic health movement.
Jean was proud that all her children were as independent and unique as she was. She passed on her love of nature through long and memorable family hikes in the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. When others her age settled into retirement, Jean embarked on great adventures: trekking in Nepal and living in a remote northern New Mexico village. She settled back in Idyllwild in 1997.
She was talented at arts and crafts, always helpful to anyone who needed it, displayed a great sense of humor, and played a speed solitaire no one who knew her dared bet against.
Jean was preceded in death by her brothers, Ernie and George Kowal. She leaves behind many friends and family, including brothers Harry and Floyd Kowal; her sister, Olga Bodinar; children Jane Bell, Bob, Neal, and David Jerome; and her two beloved grandchildren, Christopher and Tess, who will always remember her as “the best grandma ever.”
A celebration of Jean’s life will be held in Idyllwild and Janesville, in spring 2011. Those interested in attending should contact David Jerome at (951) 306-8501 for further information. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Jean’s memory to the Sierra Club.