We'll always savor mom's greeting, one she used for her many darlings-sons, daughter's in law, nieces, grandchildren, and friends.
Jean McNamara passed away January 24th at age 88 with her family at her side.
She was born in Great Falls, Montana in 1925. When she was a teenager, her family moved to Seattle. This was during the Depression, which imprinted life-long lessons, which only made her prouder of her Scotch/Norwegian heritage. Jobs were especially scarce in Montana, but the Seattle shipyards provided jobs for Jean, her father, and her brother.
She met the love of her life, Tom McNamara, at the Trianon Ballroom. Tom winked at her from across the dance floor, a classic move that actually worked. Soon they were inseparable and married within a year. As it was wartime, many of Jean's relatives donated 'coupons' so she could buy a wedding dress and new shoes.
Family was everything to Jean and Tom. They raised four sons in West Seattle and were married for 60 years until Tom's death in 2006.
Jean worked in between raising the boys, as she toiled for: War Assets Office, Southern Pacific Railroad, The Bonneville Power Administration, a local architect firm; Jean worked part time as a model in her 20's. Jean worked at Kaiser Gypsum in the early 60's so the family could build a summer cabin at Lake Samish in 1964. While working for Kaiser, a fellow worker dubbed Jean, 'The Queen of the Duwamish'
Generous with her time and attention, you knew mom loved you,, but that didn't mean she was going to open her checkbook willy-nilly. "I'll write you a check for a dollar" she'd say when you asked for a little cash. Little indeed. She didn't want us to get spoiled.
On her honeymoon at the St Francis Hotel in San Francisco, she purchased a cookbook and transformed herself into a wonderful cook and baker. Spaghetti, roasts, cinnamon rolls and pies were family favorites and a testament to her affection and work ethic
After Tom passed away, Jean and her dear friend Ralph Sterley saw each other frequently and were such regulars at Anthony's in Des Moines that they got to know the staff and often had a special table with a sweet view. Jean thought their salmon and crab bisque were sublime.
A life long liberal, Jean believed in fairness and was healthily suspicious of authority. We learned from her not to accept the status quo.
Jean enjoyed life thoroughly up to her final week, her laugh a constant, joyful sound at family gatherings. At the end of the day, she enjoyed nothing more than a cup of her beloved Ketepa Pride tea while watching "The Good Wife", her favorite show, on the Roku.
Jean is survived by her four sons-Bruce (Sheila), Dan (Maureen), John (Margaret), and Tom; eight grandchildren, Johnny (Suzy),Michael (Carrie), Stacy Jean (Eric), Erin (Gabe), Morgan (Nicole), Bonnie Jean (Donny), Lisa (Armando), and Chanel (Dave); and eight greatgrandchildren - Lennae, Kacy, Justin Shaye, Kainoa, Sophie, Ella, and Lola Jean.
It's a rare gift to be loved unconditionally. We all felt that from the woman we called Mom, Jean, Grandma, and Cheenie. It's a testament to our love for her that three of her grandchildren are named Jean. And that's just among the boys. Kidding. She'd have said "good one, darling."
Services: Saturday, February 1st, 12:30 p.m. at Fir-Conway Lutheran Church.
Published in The Seattle Times from Jan. 29 to Jan. 30, 2014