Jean Louise Gustafson died peacefully on June 2, 2014, surrounded in spirit by the love of her family and friends and comforted by the compassion and love of her caregivers at Jensen Cottage.
Jean Louise, daughter of George and Grace (Davies) Krueger, was born in Seattle on June 16, 1919, the eldest of five children. Raised in a home where knowledge, humor, optimism and independence were valued, Jean Louise prospered becoming a gracious, affable, compassionate, independent woman, loved by all who knew her.
On Sept. 21, 1940, Jean Louise married Carl T. “Ted” Gustafson. Both were students at the University of Washington when they met. Ted continued his undergraduate studies while Jean worked as a model and window designer for Zukors, a clothing store in downtown Seattle. In 1942, their first child, Michael, was born, followed two years later by their daughter, Karen. The young family moved to Sonoma, Calif., in 1944, where Ted served the Sonoma Methodist Church while completing his graduate studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif. In 1947, Ted received his bachelor of Divinity Degree, the same year their son, Paul, was born. Having completed seminary, Ted was called to serve the Congregational-United Church of Christ churches in Guerneville, Calif., where their fourth child, Teresa, was born. Following their service to the church in Guerneville, Ted and Jean were called to serve Congregational-United Church of Christ churches in Benicia, Calif.; Glendive; Milwaukie, Ore.; Bozeman; Rapid City, S.D.; Levasy, Mo.; Great Falls; The Dalles, Ore.; Clay Center, Neb.; and Sunol, Calif.
Jean and Ted retired to Redding, Calif., in 1985, where they spent 10 years exploring their wide and varied interests. Together, they created a warm and welcoming home, built exquisite furniture and nurtured their beautiful garden. They continued their tradition of road trips, traveling to see their children, friends and to discover where a new road might lead. Two trips to Sweden reacquainted them with Ted’s relatives.
In 1998, Jean and Ted moved to Mission Ridge in Billings, where they again found a community that they could call home. After Ted’s death in 2002, Jean continued to live in their apartment at Mission Ridge until her declining health warranted a move to Vista and then to Jensen Cottage.
Jean Louise was a person of many talents and interests. In the early 1950s while living in Benicia, Jean Louise volunteered with the American Red Cross as a Gray Lady, helping care for veterans recovering from the Korean War. While living in Glendive, she enjoyed a time to explore some of her creative talents. Jean was an excellent seamstress/tailor, ceramicist and painter. She returned to work in the mid-1960s as a bank teller at First State Bank in Milwaukie, enjoying the interaction with the community and the opportunity to improve her knowledge of banking and finance. She even took up golf, enjoying hitting the balls at the practice range more than playing the game! Jean Louise had the ability to adapt to the many challenges of her husband’s ministry, motherhood and life in general with optimism and a sense of adventure; she will always be remembered by her family and friends as the smart, creative, compassionate, loving, supportive wife and mother that she was.
Jean Louise is survived by her four children, Michael Gustafson, Billings, Karen Whitmer, Littleton, Colo., Paul Gustafson, Milwaukie, Teresa Grenier, Whitefish; eight grandchildren, Kent Whitmer, Kirk Gustafson, Kerri Wilkins, Jennifer Beck, Maja Reynolds, Aaron Gustafson, Michael Grenier and Edward Grenier; 12 great-grandchildren, Jessica Hittson, Derrick Hittson, Kayla Gustafson, Alder Reynolds-Gustafson, Annika Reynolds, Chloe Gustafson, Kadan Gustafson, Cody Wilkins, Ryan Wilkins, Anya Grenier, Wyatt Grenier and Colette Grenier; two great- great-grandchildren, Jasmine Galloway and Charissa Galloway.
Jean’s entire family wishes to extend their appreciation and gratitude to the staff, caregivers, physicians and pastoral caregivers who provided loving and compassionate care for our mom while at Jensen Cottage, Vista, Mission Ridge, St. Johns, St. Vincent Healthcare and Billings Clinic.
A celebration of Jean Louise’s Life is planned for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 21, in the chapel located in the Lillis Center, St. John’s Campus, with a luncheon to follow. Interment will take place at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, at Yellowstone Valley Memorial Park, 3605 Grand Ave, Billings.
Memorials may be sent to The First Congregational United Church of Christ, Billings; St John’s Lutheran Home, Billings; or Rocky Mountain College, Billings.
Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary has charge of arrangements. Remembrances may be shared with the family by visiting www.michelottisawyers.com.