Jean West passed away on Monday, February 28, 2022, at the age of 99. She was born in Lincoln, Nebraska on December 19, 1922, to Doc and Lillian Wilson. She was the 5th of 6 children, all of whom have pre-deceased her. Jean attended College View High school in Lincoln, where she wrote articles for the school newspaper and starred on the girl's basketball team. She graduated in 1941 and went to work for Golds Department Store in downtown Lincoln.
In 1942 she traveled to Kansas City to meet her fiance in the lobby of the Hotel Muehlebach. She was paged and found out his leave from the base was canceled.
Meanwhile, another soldier worked up enough nerve to speak to her. After she explained her plight, he made his move -- "How about taking a chance on me?". They went to dinner and that is how Jean met Ben Parker.
In August of 1943, Jean traveled nearly 2,000 miles by train to marry Ben in Tucson, Arizona. She was a nineteen-year-old girl who had spent her entire life in Lincoln, Nebraska, and arrived in a dusty little town in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. The only person she knew was her future husband. She had come from a land of verdant pastures and green public gardens to a land where cactus and sand were the dominant landscape. She was about to become the newest member of a large and prominent local family and she had never met any one of them!
Later in the year, Ben was assigned overseas duty and Jean moved back to Lincoln where she gave birth to her first child, Cheryl. When Ben returned, the family moved to Fort Riley, Kansas.
At the war's end Ben, Jean, and Cheryl moved back to Tucson. The next year, their second child Sally was born.
When Ben passed away, Jean found herself raising two teenage girls by herself. She went to work for a Tucson bank. A few years later Jean decided that her future lay in California and like thousands before her, moved to the Golden State, to Fullerton in particular. Jean went to work for Gibraltar Savings and Loan and purchased a condo.
She enjoyed her life working at the bank, her girlfriends, and playing golf. In 1976, fate once again intervened. His name was Al West.
They began to date and were married 18 months later. When Al retired, Al and Jean began enjoying their golden years. Their lives revolved around social activities at the Fullerton Elks Lodge and their grandchildren's activities. Jean spent the last 14 years living in Morningside of Fullerton. In her ninety-nine years,
Jean had come a long way from the little girl born on the prairie in Nebraska. On her own, she raised two daughters and made sure both graduated from college. She watched them get married and raise their own families. She was the matriarch of her California family.
During her entire life, she displayed two remarkable virtues: she never complained about anything and she never made a single bad comment about anyone.
Jean is survived by her two daughters, Cheryl Wagner of Yorba Linda and Sally Schneider of San Clemente, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
The family asks, that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the American Veterans Memorial Association, PO Box 3451, Fullerton, CA 92834. McAulay & Wallace Mortuary
Published by Orange County Register on Mar. 4, 2022.