Jean (nee Robertson) Kendall, 89, died at Lake Winona Manor on Saturday, 20 November 2021 of post-Covid complications amidst a long but graceful journey with Alzheimer’s disease.
Born 19 July 1932 in Toledo, OH, Jean was the daughter of Clifford and Ida (Heaser) Robertson, and older sister to brother, John. She was raised in Short Hills, NJ, earned a degree in Education (proudly minoring in drama) from Roanoke College, Salem, VA, and taught elementary school for nearly a decade. She married Charles Scales with whom she had three children; the marriage ended in divorce.
In 1975, Jean married her first and original love, David Kendall. They co-owned Madison Travel Bureau in Madison, NJ, and enthusiastically visited all fifty states and thirty-two countries in a time before such travel was as popular or as easy. In 1984, Jean and Dave sold their interest in the travel agency and retired to Winona based solely on the fond memories Jean had of childhood visits to her grandparent’s home.
“Retirement” was merely an excuse however, and meant only that Jean was ready for a new adventure. It wasn’t long before she was named Director of Winona Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and began to identify and expand areas of interest that would ultimately draw visitors from all over the world. Swan migration viewing areas, ski trails, bicycle paths, downtown holiday decorations, and ensuring Winona’s place on the itinerary of Steamboat River Cruises were all on Jean’s to-do list. Having accomplished her goals, she went on to become Interim Director of Winona Chamber of Commerce, then Coordinator of Downtown Cooperative. It is not a stretch to say that Winona is a better place for having known Jean Kendall.
Finally retired, Jean and Dave resumed some traveling and for several years were snowbirds—but they always regarded Winona as “home.” Dave Kendall died in 2001.
Jean was an active, lifelong member of the Episcopal Church and since 1959, a faithful P.E.O. Sister most recently, chapter Winona AP. Two years after her 2009 Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Jean was fortunate enough to attend SPARK!, an extraordinary program at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum for those with memory loss and their care partners. From the program’s inception until six years later when she was no longer able to attend, Jean’s participation in SPARK! greatly enhanced the quality of her life as her understanding of the world around her progressively faded.
Survivors include children, C. Richard (Diane) Scales, Katherine (Smiley) Anders, Valeri LeBlanc; stepsons, Bruce (Dondra) Kendall, Barry (Jeri) Kendall, assorted grandchildren, great-grandchildren, two nephews, a niece, a bevy of P.E.O. sisters, and her long-time friend and advocate throughout her journey with Alzheimer’s Disease, Corkey Waite and her husband, Dr. Larry Waite.
Jean was predeceased by her husband, parents, and brother.
On behalf of Jean, special thanks go to Dr. Thomas Loepfe at Mayo Clinic Health System La Crosse, whose moral support, sage advice, and good humor these past thirteen years, has been invaluable. Many thanks also go to the caring staff on the Sugar Loaf unit at Lake Winona Manor.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Jean’s memory are encouraged to be directed to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in support of its educational programing including SPARK!
A memorial for Jean will be held at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum on Monday, December 6, 2021, beginning at 1pm with Rev. Jerry R. Anderson officiating. Friends are encouraged to explore the galleries following the service. Masks are required.
Online condolences or memories may be left for Jean’s family at www.watkowski-mulyck.com.
Watkowski-Mulyck Funeral Home is assisting with arrangements.