On May 22, 1928, Jean Marilyn, the only child of Hedy and Fred Luckman, was born in Graceville, Minnesota. Times were tough for a grain farmer at the edge of the Dustbowl during the Depression years. One harvest was burned because it didn’t pay to truck it to the elevator. In 1936 the little family exchanged the plains of western Minnesota for the hills and woods of a dairy farm near Spooner. So began Jean’s love of nature and particularly the Northwoods.
Her formal education included graduation with the Class of 1945 from Spooner High School as valedictorian, then two years at Gustavus Adolphus College, and then on to the University of Minnesota where a bachelor of science degree in English education was awarded. Graduate studies at Florida State University yielded a master’s degree in library science and membership in the Beta Phi Mu, international library science honor society.
A diversity of employment opportunities followed: First job as English teacher at Birnamwood High School; bedside teacher at Ah-Gwah-Ching sanitarium at Walker, Minnesota; operator of information booth for the Gunflint Trail Association; editing for the alumni bulletin of the School of Business, University of Chicago; high school librarian for all-black high school in Havana, Florida, and finally, media specialist at Central High School, LaCrosse, where she was chosen by her peers as high school specialist teacher of the year in 1984.
Retirement in 1988 brought some lifestyle changes. After getting a broker’s real estate license, Jean sold recreational real estate in Burnett and Washburn counties. At the same time, a lifelong dream was achieved with the design and building of THE cabin on Middle McKenzie Lake. It became a popular family gathering place where the grandchildren swam, fished, canoed, and watched the deer.
Travels included League of Women Voters tour of Europe; elderhostels in Alaska and Santa Fe; family trips to Puerto Vallerta, Costa Rica, and Thailand; visit to Fulbright son in Oslo; and Norwegian Dawn cruise in honor of Nina’s graduation.
Younger Jean’s interests were skiing at Telemark, whitewater canoeing on the Brule and Namekagon, and playing tennis with Tallahassee parks and recreation.
Father Time dictated quieter pursuits which were stained glass artisanship, same bridge club since 1975, volunteer work at Hunt Hill Nature Center in Sarona, and the LaCrosse public library. But always reading. “We read to know we are not alone,” she believed.
Survivors are son Jay Beck, landscape photographer and professor emeritus at Bethel University; daughter Nina, and son Conor; son Andrew Kai, a research etymologist at Florida A&M, his wife, Jenny Wang, and daughter Rebecca; and son Henry.
“Jean valued creativity and integrity and found both in family and close friends, especially Dee,” her family said.
The journey begun at birth ended on September 3, 2019, with death from cancer.
According to Jean’s wishes, the earthly wrapper will be cremated and there will be no local services. There will be a reunion at the Rainbow Bridge with Miso, beloved canine companion of 18 years.