Jean Marie Allen, who sold thousands of lunch tickets to a generation of students at Jefferson Elementary school and proudly wore the nickname "Mean Jean," given to her by Band of the 80s members as the Oskaloosa High School Marching Band toured the Midwest, died peacefully February 2nd, six days short of her 91st birthday.
Jean was independent, resilient and determined. To her children and friends, she was a model of strength. But behind the strength was a wicked sense of humor and a wonderful laugh.
Jean was born February 8, 1927, in Ellsworth, MN, to Joseph and Viola Bofenkamp. She was raised in Carroll and Sac City, and graduated in 1944 from Sac City High School. She was secretary of her senior class there, and was a cheerleader and member of the synchronized swimming team.
She married Lester Ward Allen on May 23, 1949 in Sac City. They lived in Algona, Estherville, Clear Lake, Oelwein, where their eldest son Chris was born, Mason City, Carroll where Keith and Kara were born, Oskaloosa, Des Moines and Johnston, maybe pretty much in that order. It's hard to remember. She got around. She and Ward traveled extensively, including Canada and California, before Chris was born. Ward died February 7th, 1981, on the eve of her birthday. After Ward's death she traveled around Europe with a tour group, and with Keith and his family, to Nice, France.
Jean worked as a legal secretary in Mason City, and part time as a bookkeeper in Carroll. She stopped working when Keith was born, and returned to work when Kara started elementary. She worked in the Oskaloosa Public Schools Central Office. On her first day was convinced she had irreparably mismanaged the lunch money accounts. Within days she mastered the cash flow, and after several years moved to Jefferson where she found true delight in seeing the children's faces every day. She kept principal Glenn Chance, and later John Bowker, in line.
She and her husband, Ward, raised their family in a house full of love and laughter. Jean was a member of Beta Sigma Phi sorority and she and Ward played in a bridge club for many years. She attended just about every single event her kids participated in, from band and choir concerts, to stage plays and basketball games. She loved Osky High football games, and was usually in the stands. She and Ward chaperoned many a band trip, sometimes to the chagrin of Keith and Kara. Chris escaped that fate only because they had to stay home with the younger children when he was in band.
She lived long enough to see her great-granddaughter, Campbell, celebrate her first birthday. She saw her three children get married, have families and succeed in their careers. But mostly she made friends everywhere.
Jean was a faithful member of St. Mary's Catholic Church. All three kids were confirmed there, and Kara was married there. Jean did not dote on her kids, but she did love them. She expertly guided them through broken bones, broken hearts, the travails of new math, the grief of losing a dad and the challenges of college. All three not only graduated from college but went on for advanced degrees.
Jean moved from Oskaloosa to Des Moines in 2007. She spent her last three years living at Macauley Terrace in Johnston. Jean suffered a stroke on February 1, and had endured congestive heart failure for about eight months prior to that. The kind and loving staff at the Mercy Hospice House in Johnston, cared for her for the last month of her life.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Ward, brothers Art and Don, sister-in-law Beverly, and in-laws Bonnie and Lenerd Barenz .
She is survived by her children Chris (Elaine) Allen, Keith (Lisa) Allen, Kara (David) Bahr, grandchildren Sarah (Anthony) Draine, Joe (Karen) Allen, Nick Allen, Ross Allen, and Kiersten Bahr, great-granddaughter Campbell Draine, sister Carma (Dale) Peck, brothers Al (Mary) Bofenkamp, Jerry (LoAnn) Bofenkamp, David (Donna) Bofenkamp, sister-in-law Mary Jo Bofenkamp, a couple dozen nieces and nephews, and a warehouse full of friends.
Mass of the Christian Burial will be held Tuesday, February 6, 2018, at 10:00 a.m. in the St. Mary's Catholic Church in Oskaloosa with Reverend John Spiegel officiating. Burial will be in the St. Mary's Cemetery in Oskaloosa. The Bates Funeral Chapel is in charge of the arrangements. Visitation will begin Monday morning after 11 in the Bates Funeral Chapel and the family will be at the funeral chapel from 5-7 Monday evening to greet friends and relatives. There will be a Rosary at 7p.m. Monday at the funeral chapel. Memorials may be made to Mercy Hospice in Johnston.
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