On Monday, February 22, Jean Lominska passed away peacefully in her favorite chair in her home at Brandon Woods in Lawrence, Kansas.
She would have been 97 this April, and was bright, sharp, witty, devoted to family and friends, and curious to the very end, belonging to a book club and taking continuing education classes. She had never suffered from any chronic illness, just the gradual deterioration that comes with age, which slowed her down a bit but never got in the way of her remarkable determination and energy.
She is survived by her four children: Elizabeth, Robert, Susan, and David, her seven grandchildren: Derek, Ben, Julia, Anna, Chris, Avery, and Ashton, and her three great-granddaughters: Mikali, Sophie, and Asha. She was predeceased by her sister Katharine and brother Carl.
Her family will hold a memorial service around the time of her birthday at Trinity Episcopal Church, followed by an inurnment at Hardy Oaks Cemetery in Jefferson County, Kansas.
Jean was born on April 30, 1913 in East Orange, New Jersey, the daughter of Smith Carl Ketcham and Eleanor Huntington Ketcham. She was a granddaughter of George Huntington, known for his seminal work in identifying the genetic pattern of transmission of the neurological disease named Huntington’s Chorea in his honor.
In 1917, they moved to Pleasantville, New York. She graduated from Pleasantville High School in 1930, and then spent four happy years at Mount Holyoke College, from which she graduated with a degree in English in 1934. After earning a Master’s Degree in Education from Columbia University in 1935, she taught primary school in Sayville, New York from 1935-1940. There she met and married Clemense A. Lominska. After the birth of their four children, she taught in the Sachem School District on Long Island from 1959 until she retired in 1977. While in Sayville she was a member of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, where she sang in the church choir, and was active in the Sayville Musical Workshop. In both contexts, her beautiful mezzo-soprano voice was much appreciated, and she raised her children in an environment rich with music. She and her husband were very active in the community, and Planned Parenthood was one of her chosen volunteer commitments.
She was a strong influence on the lives of her children and grandchildren, and a warm and constant support until the end. When her husband Clemense died in 1963, she continued to raise her children on her own, passing on her passions for education, music, theater, language, history, photography, and travel. Her house was always open to those who needed a temporary home, including foreign students and her children’s friends. She also opened the world to her children, taking the three still at home on a trip to England and France in 1965 and on a round the world trip in 1967, followed by many travels with her sister and with friends. Although she was deferential about her talents, she had a passion for language and was a voracious reader, reading aloud to her children and grandchildren, and providing them with gifts of books. She did her best to ensure that they wrote and spoke using correct and accurate English. She supported them proudly in their endeavors and careers, which include farming, teaching, medicine, anthropology, and professional photography. She herself took delight in riddles, limericks, and amusing nonsense, and was an avid crossword puzzler.
After her retirement in 1977, she chose to move to Lawrence, Kansas, which offered an environment that she embraced with enthusiasm. She made many friends here, and participated in a large number of organizations and activities, including Small World, the Lawrence Civic Choir, Altrusa, the Spencer Art Museum, her book group, and the Trinity Episcopal Church choir. The Lawrence Arts Commission recognized her with its 2003 Phoenix Award for her contributions to the arts. She was happy here, finding great pleasure in all that Lawrence offered.
Jean was a remarkable woman. She was loved by her family, and will be missed by those whose lives she touched. She lived and died as she had hoped and wished.
In lieu of flowers, a donation to the charity of your choice would be appreciated by her family. Doctors Without Borders and the OSHER program were two of the many that Jean supported. Online condolences may be sent to: www.warrenmcelwain.com
Haiku for Jean, by David Lominska
In her chair, closing
her eyes, she eases into
the world of her books
A memorial video for Jean can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egc5JnxNkZE