Jean Catherine Blacker was born on June 15, 1930, and passed away with her family by her side on the morning of June 27, 2023, just past her 93rd birthday. While she was born in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, she lived most of her life in Shelton, Washington. She was preceded in death by her parents, Earl and Martha Malinger; her husband, Bud (Dewey Dwayne) Blacker; her brother, Jack Malinger; and her daughter, Linda Lemcke. She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Rick and Barbara Blacker; brothers, Earl and Michael Malinger; Michael’s wife, Judy; many nieces and nephews; and granddaughter, Piper Lemcke Grall.
While her last few years were marred by dementia, which made her frustrated, frightened, and angry, we will remember Jean’s spunky, fearless side, a spirited woman who loved adventure and meeting new people, especially those from other cultures. She loved spending time with her kids and the family spent their summers in a cabin on Phillips Lake, swimming, water skiing, and riding horses. After the kids were grown, Bud retired from Simpson and began doing contract work for Louisiana-Pacific. These jobs were in a variety of Northwest lumber towns from Oregon to Alaska and Jean liked the adventure and newness of this life. Her favorite place, though, had to be Metlakatla, an Indian community and reserve on Annette Island in Southeast Alaska. At one point, the whole family and some friends were living and working in Metlakatla, giving Jean the best of both worlds, surrounded by her family and with lumber ships coming and going from all over the world, new people to meet all the time. She loved the people and the place so much that the locals called her Metlakatla Jeannie. It was a place she hated to leave and always wished to return to.
After Bud died, Jean threw herself into life at the cabin on Phillips Lake. She loved working in the yard and keeping the place tidy. She walked with her dogs around the lake road and through the woods across the road, paddled her kayak and swam in the lake in the summer. She loved reading and kept the local library busy sending her books. While these years were also often dotted with fallout from Jean’s feisty temper, I admired her spirit and self-sufficiency. It was sad to watch her personality change as dementia crept in and age chipped away at her independence. I will try to remember the spirited lady who wore her long, beautiful, thick hair braided and coiled up on her head, who was the first person I ever saw make homemade French fries, who put up with more guff and teasing than I ever would have, who loved the forests and the beaches and believed in the spirits of the natural world. May she find peace and may her heaven look a lot like Metlakatla.
--Written by Barbara Blacker
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