Madras resident Jean Houck grew up and attended school in Bend when it was a small timber town, and where her dad worked as a liaison between the union and millworkers. "We knew everybody in town in those days. Many I went to school with are still there and we look them up when we go to Bend and talk about old times and how Bend's changed," she said.
When she was 17 her best friend was Carol Houck who lived just three houses down the street, and it was through Carol that Jean met her future husband -- Carol's brother John. During World War II John was in the Navy, and while he was on leave in 1942 they were married in Bremerton, Wash. In 1947, they moved from Bend to Prineville to join his brother in a lumber trucking business, moved to Portland for 10 years, then to Klamath Falls for eight years.
"Persh Andrews was one of John's best friends in high school," Jean said, noting they came to Madras when Persh offered John a job working at Jefferson Plywood. Coincidentally, her friend Carol ended up marrying Persh, so all four friends were together again.
While John was working, Jean delighted in being a homemaker and raising their seven children: Nancy now of Portland, Jan of Eugene, Christine of Anderson, S.C., John of Tacoma, Wash., Bruce of Madras, Paula of Redmond, and Lisa of Salem. "I'm so proud of them, they're all honorable, God-fearing citizens and wonderful children," she said proudly.
She was always very active in their church, and at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Madras, she is head of a group that visits the sick, helped establish a Bible Study group, and sang in the choir for many years. She has been a SMART reader for four years, and with her friend Carol has done sing-alongs and visiting at the nursing home for 19 years. "All my life I was involved in singing, did some solo work, and was in a barbershop sextet. Sometimes I sang bass and sometimes the lead," she said.
Athletic since childhood, she enjoyed bicycling, hiking and still does a lot of walking. Reading is another pursuit and she listed Mave Benchy stories of Ireland and Scotland and writings by Thomas Merton as favorites.
Reflecting on her life, Jean is very modest and reluctant to take credit for things. Her philosophy is that people should love God and one another.
"If I have a talent, it's for loving people and taking care of those who need to be taken care of. That's been my life's work and I want it to continue. I've met so many wonderful people," she said.
Northwest Oregon Conference