Jean Ellen Gates



November 1921 – August 5, 2021

Jean Ellen Gates passed away peacefully on August 5, 2021, in Ventura, California in the company of her daughter Lorraine and son-in-law Mark.

Jean was born in November of 1921 to Jim and Margaret Dawson in Fullerton, California. She and her younger brother, Jimmie, and an assortment of cousins had fun playing in the farmlands that made up much of the landscape at the time. Being the eldest of the bunch, she enjoyed being a little bossy, as she described herself. After a pleasant childhood and two years at the local junior college, she very proudly served as a secretary at the Santa Ana Army Air Base in the final months of World War II. During this period of her life, she enjoyed swing dancing and would regularly go to dance halls in Balboa and on Catalina Island.

She then moved to Los Angeles and used her clerical skills to secure a job at Founders Insurance Company, where she met her future husband, Ken. Jean and Ken married in 1949 and moved to Whittier. The 1950s were action-packed years when their four children, Larry, Martin, Brian, and Lorraine were born over a span of seven years. A move to a larger house was required and the family moved to Anaheim in 1962 into a house on a cul-de-sac that included families who would provide life-long friendships for all generations. Jean was a very busy mother who took good care of the family, was involved in various activities including being a cub scout leader, PTA president, and other activities to support the school system. She also fostered each of her children’s unique and individual talents and interests. As the children required less of her time, Jean began working for the Anaheim Union High School District in the capacity of school registrar.

In 1979, she took a solo trip to Argentina to visit son Larry and his wife Celia and their first two children, Zaynab and Badiyyih. She didn’t speak Spanish and when she wasn’t with Larry, she communicated using her Spanish-English dictionary, pantomiming, and lots of laughing. This trip sparked an interest in further travel, and she started taking trips with friends to Europe and on ocean cruises during the summer months when she was off work. She retired in 1989 and she and Ken moved to Ventura, where she started new hobbies such as writing and being a member of the Daughters of the Golden West, where she served as editor of the monthly newsletter and made many good friends. She joined a water aerobics class where she and a few others became the “lunch bunch” as they would go to lunch after their class and enjoy many years of friendship. She and Ken enjoyed jazz and bluegrass music, traveling great distances to music festivals.

Jean was very personable and accepting of others and had the unique ability to find common ground with practically anyone she met.

She was also a very involved and beloved grandmother, proudly displaying many photographs of her four granddaughters who grew up in Argentina, and frequent visits with her other two granddaughters who lived nearby. She also volunteered at their elementary school.

Jean was preceded in death by her parents and younger brother, Jimmie, who died at the age of 18. Son Brian died in 2008 at the age of 54. Her husband Ken died in April 2021 at the age of 92; they were married for 72 years.

Jean is survived by children Larry, Martin, and Lorraine, granddaughters Zaynab, Badiyyih, Leila, Lorena, Melanie, and Kelly, and great-grandchildren Sebastian, Franco, Kalim, Keilani, Kian, Anne’k, Tiago, and Eloise. She was introduced to the newest great-grandchild, Eloise, in her final days, and her face lit up at first sight.

The family would like to thank the staff at Treacy Villa Memory Care in Ventura and Livingston Hospice Care for their compassionate care of Jean during her final years.

In lieu of flowers, please feel free to support Alzheimer’s disease research or any charity of your choice.