Jean Thorsteinson (1921 - 2014)

1 entry
  • "So sorry for the loss,may God Himself open His hand and..."
The Guest Book is expired.

Jean Thorsteinson died peacefully at home in her sleep on September 30, 2014 with family by her side. She was 93 years old.

Jean was born to Lyman and Hazel Reynoldson in Skagway, Alaska on May 26, 1921. She was proud of her Alaskan heritage that included a grandfather who served as U.S. Marshal in Eagle during the Gold Rush Days. Her father worked for Wells Fargo as a Railway Express Agent and Customs Inspector for the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway in Skagway for more than 30 years before retiring to Tenakee Springs. Jean's childhood was rich in adventure, community, and family life and she excelled as a student graduating as class valedictorian from Skagway High School in 1939. Her first job, as a conductress on the Skagway Street Car, involved collecting fares and keeping local kids from hopping rides on the back of the bus. Jean claimed that growing up in Skagway was "never boring" and many of her stories were reminiscent of rural life in Tom Sawyer's Hannibal only in a Klondike setting.

Jean attended Eastern Washington College but changed her mind about becoming a teacher and eventually attended A.A. Peterson Private Commercial School in Seattle. During World War II she worked in Skagway for a company that was helping to build the Alcan Highway and in Anchorage for the Alaska Railroad. After WWII she returned to college and after graduation, worked for the Railway Express Agency in Seattle. In October 1947 she was introduced to Fredrik Thorsteinson on a blind date arranged by her cousin. They were married in April 1948. At the time Fredrik was employed by the University of Washington's Fisheries Research Institute where he was studying salmon in Alaska. In 1957, Fredrik accepted a position with the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries and they moved to Juneau where the family lived in Douglas and later Auke Bay. Jean's family history is one of several featured in Gastineau Channel Memories 1880-1959.

Jean returned to work in the early 1970s and eventually retired from the State of Alaska's Division of Corporations in 1982. She and Fredrik enjoyed a long retirement together and were able to travel extensively. Although they visited many exotic places, they always loved returning to Juneau, to family and friends, and to their home on the beach in Auke Bay. Jean valued community service and volunteered for the Douglas Public Library, Juneau Friends of the Library, Alaska State Museum, and other organizations. She was a member of Chapter N of the PEO and was active in the Women's Igloo 6 of the Juneau Pioneers of Alaska serving as Queen Regent in 2000. Jean loved nature and enjoyed hiking, daily walks, camping, and gardening. She was fond of pets and was seldom seen without a cleverly-named dog in tow.

Jean lived a long and full life and was blessed in having many friends. She was strong and independent and guided by a joyful, compassionate spirit that will be missed but not soon forgotten by those who knew her. Jean was preceded in death by her husband Fredrik, daughter Carol Jean Austin and brothers Lyman and John Reynoldson. She is survived by sons Fredrik (Carolyn), Donald (Susan Flanary), Lyman (Susan) and son in-law Brad Austin; grandchildren Fredrik, Eric, Kirk, Jon, Kris, Cameron and Anne Thorsteinson, and Lyman and Kate Austin; and great grandchildren Fredrik, Nathaniel, and Craig Thorsteinson. At Jean's request, there will be no memorial service. The family requests that in remembrance donations in her name can be made to the or CSS Hospice of Juneau.
Published in The Juneau Empire on Oct. 19, 2014
bullet University of Washington
Please consider a donation, as requested by the family.