Early Monday morning, January 7, 2019, devoted matriarch, Jean MacKellar Mortensen was reunited with her husband, Carl, after eight long years of separation. She departed for his embrace surrounded by her family after days of love, prayer, talk, story, song, laughter and the sound of the classical music she adored.
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Jean was born in Wilkes Barre, PA to Gordon and Anita MacKellar and her older brother, Donald, March 23, 1927. Four years later they welcomed a second brother, James into the family. Jean and her brothers spent their childhoods’ together and graduated high school in Kingston, PA. Jean loved literature and music from a young age, a talented pianist and enthusiastic vocalist, she passed these passions on to those around her.
Jean attended Cornell University School of Nursing. She was one of the first women in the Civil Air defense, and a member of Sigma Theta Tau. While at Cornell, she fell in love with a young navy man and engineer, Carl Mortensen, in 1944. They graduated together and were married October 8, 1949. They spent the next 61 years together, first in Glenham, NY and then later in Beacon. They shared countless hobbies and interests, from music and volunteer work to square dancing.
Jean first entered medicine in the difficult post of a New York City Public Health Nurse. She later discovered her passion for the Operating Room, where she continued to use her gifts to comfort countless frightened patients and mentor new nurses and technologists for the next 45 years. She participated for 30 years in the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Nurse’s Health Studies, resulting in the publication of “Healthy Women, Healthy Lives.” She never stopped educating herself in medicine, subscribed to countless scholarly journals which she would share with anyone who had an interest. She was as life member, volunteer EMT and financial secretary of the Beacon Volunteer Ambulance Core, during which time she inspired new recruits, promoted their cause, held yet more hands and saved even more lives. Her work inspired a daughter-in-law and two granddaughters into medical fields themselves. The number of people Jean cared for cannot be counted, but the world is unquestionably a brighter place for her tireless efforts.
Jean had a unique relationship with each person in her life from her sons down to every one of eight great grandchildren. She was a den mother when her sons were young, nurtured their love of music and literature. No matter how far away, Jean found a way to cultivate that special connection. With children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren scattered from California to North Carolina, this was no simple task, but Jean managed it with expert grace, leaving each one with unique memories and lessons learned, filling three generations with story and music.
A prominent member of the Fishkill Methodist Church, where she was a constant voice in the choir and organist, she embodied the virtues of kindness and generosity. To the very end of her life, she made friends everywhere she went, from the grocery store to her travels across country. She was an active philanthropist, supporting countless charities, but she was also a wonderful neighbor and friend, always ready to help in whatever way she could. Jean remained independent and active until the very last days of her life.
She was predeceased by her parents, brothers and husband.
She is survived by three sons: Alan and his wife, Ann, of Reno, NV, Brian and his wife, Linda, of Rocky Point, NC, and Daniel and his wife, Geralann, of Hyde Park, NY; six grandchildren: Cheryl Snook and her husband, Tyler (NV); Raina Dean and her husband, Erik (Cornwall, NY); Laura Cullen and her husband, John (Watertown, CT); Eric Mortensen and his wife, Alicia (NV); and Marine SSgt David Mortensen and his wife Michelle, (CA); and Nissa Mortensen (Hyde Park); and eight great-grandchildren: Ruby, Wes, James, Liam, Amy, Brooke, Brett and Briahna. She also leaves behind a large extended family of nieces, nephews and dear friends.
Nor speak of me with tears…
But laugh and talk of me…
As though I were beside you…
I loved you so…”
Calling hours will be held from 2:00-4:00pm and 7:00-9:00pm Thursday, January 10 at Libby Funeral Home, 55 Teller Avenue, Beacon, NY. Funeral services will be held at 11:00am Friday, January 11 at Fishkill United Methodist Church, Broad Street, Fishkill, NY. Interment will follow at Fishkill Rural Cemetery. Online condolences may be left at Libbyfuneralhome.com.
Donations may be sent to the Beacon Volunteer Ambulance Corps or the Fishkill United Methodist Church.
Her family would like to thank the staff of VBMC for their care, kindness and support during her final days, with special thanks to South Circle 6.