Obituary of Jean Brown Forster
Jean Brown Forster, 100, of State College PA, died on October 30, 2021, at Garvey Manor in Hollidaysburg, PA. She was born in Meyersdale, PA on May 3, 1921, the daughter of T. Boone and Jane Brown of Meyersdale. On November 27, 1943, she married Dr. Kent Forster, an Air Force captain at the time, who preceded her in death in 1981.
She is survived by 5 children, Kristine Brecht (Richard) of Silver Spring, MD; Ann Lyon (Keith) of Okemos, MI; Jon Forster (Lori) of Brooklyn, NY; Peter Forster (Sue) of State College, PA; and Elise Dreibelbis (Randy) of Stormstown, PA, and 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. She was pre-deceased by her siblings Jack Brown, Joan Brown Walsh, and Thomas Boone Brown.
Mom requested that her obituary be a compilation of thoughts of her five children and these follow:
"As a child, Mother experienced milk and ice (for real iceboxes) being delivered by horse drawn carts and heard Herbert Hoover deliver a Presidential campaign speech from the back of a B&O railroad car in the local RR station. She graduated from Meyersdale High School and earned a BA in French from Hood College in Frederick, MD, in 1942, where her father traded coal for her college education. Embracing her love of language, she served as a civilian codebreaker in the U.S. Signal Corps during WWII, and her love of language and learning outlasted the War."
"On Saturday October 30, 'my first best friend entered the Kingdom of Heaven,' there is no better phrase to capture the sadness and joy of this time. Our Mom, also was fondly known as Grandmommy to her grandchildren and great grandchildren, was always available to listen. When I'd come home from school, she would begin dinner preparations (always a special time in our home) and listen while I sat on the kitchen stool. She even once wrote a piece about the yellow stool. Neighbor children and we alike would somehow find her attentive. I wonder at how she could cook and listen to so many of us! She had that rare ability to make each person feel he or she was the most important."
"She was an invaluable partner to our Dad. Not only did they have a romance that enveloped us all, but Mom was indispensable to him, a Penn State history professor, when we traveled abroad for extended periods from Helsinki to Vienna, to Beirut and Nairobi. With young children in tow, she would set up our home in foreign lands and embraced the value of yet another culture. Her love of languages was evident as she developed significant vocabularies in Finnish, German, and even Swahili. This not only facilitated her grocery shopping but gave her a gateway into the local culture and often friendships with local women. Mom, an avid supporter of education, never stopped wanting to learn about others and their way of life."
"Mom also wrote extensively about the many trips she took in her later years to China, the Baltic, Southeast Asia, and the American West. She, too, was famous for her many letters to the Centre Daily Times as she strongly expressed her support or opposition to the various political issues of the time. Among Mother's many writing skills was also her penning of hundreds of poems, including special ones to each of us on our birthdays."
"She sponsored Mortar Board Honor for Women at Penn State in the 1950s. In the 1960s and 70s, she convened the wives of international graduate students and assisted them in learning to navigate life in America. She was an icon for reaching out to help, but her love was not limited to family. As many international guests and friends would attest, Jean and Kent were widely known and loved for introducing visitors to our culture while entertaining them in their home. Friends in State College also shared in the warmth of her personality."
"Mom was the quintessential hostess. Preparing dinners ranging from the lavish to mundane but, regardless, the most memorable part of any meal together was the vibrant pre-meal toast when young and old would 'klink' their glasses in celebration of being together. She gave us, as her children, a tremendous sense of justice and equality regardless of religious, ethnic, or racial backgrounds. She loved each of us and our extended families deeply and was always supportive regardless of the odd twist and turns in each of our lives. She did not limit this love and support to her family but also embraced her friends, and ours, from State College, PA., to Helsinki, Finland.
"Mom was an amazing and strong person – she was my confidant; mentor; cornerstone; and, most importantly, my best friend. We held each other up when my Daddy died; we traveled through Europe and Kenya, as a family and just in tandem, enjoying new cultures, food, and friends and confronting interesting challenges. We went to the beach and burned the tops of our feet, so we couldn't wear shoes for days; we drove to special places near State College and across the United States laughing and sharing. She knew my secrets and supported me through good and challenging times."
"Our Mother was exceptional in her breadth of knowledge, social engagement, and eternal optimism, and anyone who met her could not help but be touched by her heart-felt warmth and genuine concern." The comment, "I miss you desperately, Mommy" is shared by many but, in particular, by her five children.…. until we meet again."
A private family burial will be held at Meyersdale Area Union Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Kent and Jean B. Forster Fund for Junior Faculty Development at Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts, 2583 Gateway Drive, Bristol Place One, Suite 200, State College, PA. 16801.
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