Jean Elizabeth MacDonald Morton, 94


February 15, 2024

Jean Elizabeth MacDonald Morton

Jean Elizabeth MacDonald was born July 15, 1929 in Petersburg, Alaska, to Georgiana and Gordon MacDonald. She loved her childhood in Petersburg and maintained a strong emotional attachment to her hometown, attending Petersburg picnics in Seattle whenever possible. Always a freespirit, Jean created a bit of a scandal the summer between her junior and senior year when she donned a dress she'd made from parachute silk and married Airforce Captain Marvin Rice while they flew over Petersburg.

Though Jean earned the highest grades in Petersburg High School's class of 1947, and though she was granted the title of valedictorian, she was denied the scholarship money for college that went with the title. The salutatorian's mother complained that giving it to a married and pregnant girl would be a waste and the school board agreed. This loss inspired the way Jean raised her daughters, her successful fight with the PTA in 1962 for sex education for sixth-grade girls, and her lifelong commitment to the Girl Scouts and Emblem Club.

Captain Rice and Jean had one son together, Kenneth Gordon Rice. When Jean married B. H. "Bob" Morton in 1950 Kenneth also became an official Morton and from then on Bob was his dad. When Bob's parents referred to Kenneth as "Jean's son" one too many times, Bob made it clear that they were one family and would not be making the long trip to Arkansas again if it didn't stop. It stopped.

For the first twenty years of their marriage they moved a lot – from as far north as Homer, Alaska, and south to Coos Bay, Oregon, while Bob was dredging boat harbors and building docks. They had three more children along the way and by the time Kenneth graduated high school, he'd attended schools in twenty-three different fishing villages and towns along the west coast. The kids nearly raised, Bob switched to building aluminum boats and commercial fish processing and they settled in West Seattle. Jean took over the office and helped make their businesses very successful.

Jean was vivacious, adventuresome, and brave. In 1965, when women rarely did this sort of thing, Jean took her four kids, ages 16, 13, 6, and 5, on the car trip of their lives. They drove from Homer, Alaska, to Pottsville, Arkansas, visiting family, friends, and everything from Yellowstone to Disneyland. Jean bragged that, by herself, she took her kids through all but two of the states on "this side" of the Mississippi.

Jean kept in touch with her many friends and was an active member of the Seattle Genealogical Society. In the last ten years of her life she developed Alzheimer's, but kept her spunk. In her memory care residence she was considered an adorable crackerjack!

On December 15, 2023, Jean passed away in Bonney Lake, Washington, just seven months shy of her 95th birthday. She was preceded in death by her husband, Bob; her eldest son, Kenneth; and her four brothers, Lewis, Gordon, Donald, and Neil.

She is survived by her son, B. Leighton Morton; daughters, Kelley J. (Steve) Hutchison and Laurell A. (Maricia Cutler) Morton; her nephew, Clifford MacDonald and his daughters, Hillary and Lauren; three granddaughters, a grandson, their spouses; and eight great-grandchildren.


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