Jean Gardner Sorenson (1921 - 2018)

  • "Pete & Kim: Over several years at random and various social..."
    - Donald Nordin

Our beloved mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend, Rula Jean Gardner Sorenson of Eugene, died August 18, 2018 of age-related causes. She was 96.

She loved spending time with her family and friends, listening to jazz and big band music, eating ice cream and chocolate, appreciating nature and reminiscing. Earlier this year she was able to make one last trip to Utah to visit her sister, brother and other family and to see the family farm where she grew up. Pete, her son, Kim, daughter-in-law, and Emma, great-granddaughter accompanied her on that special trip. We have unforgettable memories of our lovely, positive, kind, caring, smart, adventurous, organized, funny, strong Rula Jean.

Her husband predeceased her on March 1, 2006. They were married for 60 years. They lived in Coos County and Eugene, Oregon for many years.

She was born November 13, 1921 in Honeyville, Utah to Leon Dewey Gardner and Annie Margaret Madsen Gardner. She was raised on a dairy farm in Honeyville, literally in the land of milk and honey.

After graduating from Box Elder High School in Brigham City, Utah, Jean attended Utah State University in Logan, Utah and Henegar's Business College in Salt Lake City, Utah. She worked as a secretary for the American Red Cross and for North American Aviation during World War II. She married Vernon Charles Sorenson June 21, 1946 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

After the war, she moved to Switzerland where her husband attended Universities in Geneva and Zurich. After that the family moved to Reno where her husband attended the University of Nevada. The family then moved to San Francisco, where Vernon worked for Standard Oil and Jean worked for United Airlines. Sons, Pete and John were born in 1951 and 1953 respectively.

In 1961 the family moved into a house they built together in North Bend, where Vernon taught French, German and photography at Southwestern Oregon Community College. Jean was secretary to the Director at Bay Area Hospital for many years where she was known for, "practically running the hospital."

In Coos County, she was active in the League of Women Voters, Habitat for Humanity and South Coast Mental Health Association. She also helped the elderly and immigrants. One such immigrant was Anama Varghese, a nurse from India who Jean helped get settled and hired on at the hospital. On a phone call to Jean while she was in hospice, Anama said, "I will never forget what you did for our family."

After she retired, she and her husband traveled to Europe, China, South America and all 50 states, and enjoyed ocean cruises, dixieland festivals and driving the ALCAN Highway. She moved to Eugene in 1988 to be closer to her family.

To honor her husband and their family, she established the Vernon and Jean Sorenson Memorial Scholarship at Southwestern Oregon Community College. This scholarship helps hundreds of students and their families. Contributions to the scholarship in Jean's honor are encouraged and can be sent to: Southwestern Oregon Community College Foundation, 1988 Newmark Avenue, Coos Bay, Oregon 97420.

Her immediate surviving family include two sons, Charles Peter Sorenson (wife: Kim Leval) of Eugene and Chris John Sorenson of Portland; and three grandchildren, Kirsten Amy Sorenson of Westport, Washington; Jennifer Sorenson Leitner (husband: Joshua Chad Leitner) of Portland; and Erik Christian Sorenson (wife: Jessica Fox Sorenson) of San Francisco, California. She had two great grandchildren, Emma Jean Leitner and Samuel Soren Leitner. Extended family include a surviving brother, Rex Gardner, and sister, Barbara Avondet along with many nieces and nephews.

A public Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, October 5, 2018 at 10:45 am at Solvang Retirement Living Center, 1202 Jacobs Drive, Eugene, Oregon 97402. If you'd like information on her life or to RSVP for her celebration of life, please contact Kim Leval at [email protected] or PO Box 10836, Eugene, OR 97440. Burial will be next to her husband at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park in Salt Lake City. Arrangements entrusted to Lane Memorial Funeral Home. Please access the obituary and you are invited to sign the guestbook at

Published in Eugene Register-Guard on Sept. 23, 2018
Arrangements under the direction of:
Wasatch Lawn Mortuary
3401 South Highland Drive | Salt Lake City, UT 84106 | (801) 466-8687
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