Jean was the last of nine children born to Ezra James Carlson and Catherine Cowley on 4 April 1924 in Logan, Utah. Childhood was a delight with many year-round outdoor activities: play with siblings, neighbors, and cousins; education at Logan public schools; work around the house and the farm at Cache Junction; as well as learning and developing talents and skills (such as sewing, piano, needlework, knitting, and crocheting) that were enjoyed for her lifetime.
In 1942, she was introduced to Reid Bishop, a fellow Utah State University student, by her older brother, Vernon. Reid nominated Jean to be a ROTC “sponsor” at her request and after a brief interview. She succeeded in the nomination and added drilling two times per week (Reid being the cadet who oversaw the group), with busy student life, and part-time employment with the university extension service. That interview with Reid continued into a growing relationship that culminated in marriage at the Logan temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 10 November 1943. Early life together included the US Army stationing them in many locations throughout the south, and on both coasts of the United States. She returned to Utah and worked while Reid’s assignments to the South Pacific and in the occupation of Japan were concluded. After Reid acquired a graduate degree and the birth of her first child, Ronald Reid, they moved to Blackfoot, Idaho in 1949 where Reid’s career in education commenced.
Motherhood brought joy and put to great use the teaching from her own “saintly” mother.
Two sons, Larry Douglas and Richard Paul, came in subsequent years followed by relocation to Parma in 1954 and then to Boise in 1959 where she continued to reside. Experiencing both wonderful rural and city life of Idaho blessed the family. Her sons did provide some frustration as constantly inquisitive; ever active; occasionally boisterous; yet helpful with household chores, gardening, and canning; and other family projects she initiated—at least most of the time.
Ever supportive of the desires of her family she never wavered when a ball game was scheduled—attendance was mandatory. She encouraged and fully supported academic pursuits of her husband and sons. Cajoling Rick into musical adventures and then supporting the outcome of membership in a rock band was taken mostly in stride. The glue of the family when mealtimes stretched for hours with athletic practice times and other constraints, accepting the friends and pets, and never complaining even when coupled with significant responsibilities in church or other volunteer efforts.
Most significant were teaching and leadership positions in the Primary, Young Women’s MIA, Relief Society and scouting in the church. Calling as ward Relief Society president twice, gave eternal commitment to the concept of charity. Work in stake leadership callings cemented lifelong relationships and provided opportunity to teach skills honed while serving. Specifically, she relished the opportunity to serve as a volunteer ordinance worker at the Boise temple. As twenty-four years of volunteer service climaxed in a bit of resentment upon release. Only a few moments were required to realize that in her new phase, she needed to continue temple labor as a patron and overcome the feeling of loss that ensued. Hence, following release she continued as a weekly patron until the pandemic closed that beloved phase of her life. In total, over 35 years were spent in loving service to the Lord, attending to patrons, providing ordinances for many of her ancestors, and also those ancestors of a myriad of friends who requested help with proxy work.
Jean never seemed to tire of watching sports contests her sons participated in and had only a handful of music and no dance recitals to enjoy. Her youthful outdoor activities returned as she took up golf as a new game played with her husband and later a dear friend and neighbor (Pauly Peterson) the mother of Larry’s friend.
After her sons were independent in school, Jean returned to work as secretary and administrative assistant in State of Idaho civil defense, and other employment pursuits until retirement. Those days included travel, sports activities, following the exploits of family members, and continued service to family, friends, neighbors, and church. She even took up oil painting and became proficient, but piano playing reigned and taking on the organ as a new instrument added to a growing list of accomplished talents.
After years of making shirts and pajamas for the boys and dresses for herself, her sewing skills took on an added dimension when she entered the world of quilting. Less interested in complex patterning or trying to tell a story, Jean was more into precision, socialization, teaching the skills, and providing a venue for many to experience firsthand the activity. Cherished by family members were the handmade grandmother quilts for new baby grandchildren and great grandchildren and the magnificent full-sized gifts at the marriage of children and grandchildren. Untold numbers of quilts were also donated to charity to provide warmth and comfort to others.
Procuring a timeshare in McCall, Idaho afforded additional fun filled time with family, especially local grandchildren. Some activities included pool and lake swimming, boating, hikes, and Grandma Jean’s crazy, unique card games where she was competitive with the grandchildren and was occasionally the winner. It was special for all who played. Memories are voluminous from these yearly exploits.
Reid’s passing in 1987 was difficult, but immersing herself in service, activities with friends and neighbors, helping with care for grandchildren, church activities, and other family duties filled some of the void. Despite efforts of many to help her continue the active life she loved, life was not the same and a measure of loneliness was present.
Five years later she found delightful and fulfilling married companionship with Fay L. Messinger that lasted a marvelous 28 years. The union blessed both Jean and Fay as they developed a lasting love and continued participation in shared activities and avocations. They continued along the same course of outdoor activities-especially golf, travel, following a now larger combined family, following their favorite sports teams, and service to others with joy. They enjoyed gardening, time and labor at Fay’s cabin, celebration of family milestones, and maintaining an active lifestyle that perpetuated happy, advanced personal years. Their companionship was remarkable even facing hearing difficulties and finally slowed mobility. They maintained Fay’s home and their personal lives independently with incredible capacity and awe by all observers.
She left mortal life after a brief illness on 3 September 2021 and leaves a lasting unsurpassed legacy as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
A public visitation will be held (see details below) with private family services held following.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Humanitarian Fund.
To send flowers to Jean's family, please visit our floral store.