Jean was born in Ukiah and spent most of her life in Mendocino County. After graduating from Potter Valley High School sheÂ attended UC Berkeley where she earned a degree in English.
Jean married John Ham, a Covelo native. She has two sons, John Thomas Ham, Jr. and William Charles Ham.Â
She started her teaching career in Covelo,Â then went on to teach in Mendocino, Potter Valley,Â Philo and finally at Ukiah High School.Â She ended her tenure as the Dean of Girls there.
She married Lowell Near in 1953 and they moved to Redwood Valley,Â where Jean achieved renown for the spinning woolÂ from for her flock of colored sheep.
Jean continued to do Tai Chi, win ribbons for her fleeces, publish her poetry, and participate in a book group until the end of her life. Jean attributed her long life toÂ “always having a reason to live, even if it’s just a couple of cats you have to feed.”
Jean’s sons, sister Jewell, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews miss her dearly.
A celebration of her life is planned for her 105th birthday, December 31, 2019 at the Grange Hall in Redwood Valley.