Jean Kennedy McGowen

Honored by:Mary Jo Stanley
Brick location:F:18  map

Born: Wright County, Iowa near Goldfield on April 18, 1907. Parents: Samuel David and Clara Gibson Kennedy Siblings: 4 brothers and 4 sisters Education: RN degree at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines in 1928. Post-graduate work in obstetrics at Chicago Lying in Hospital in Chicago. Married: Dick V. McGowen on May 28, 1937 Daughters: Sharon K. Whisler born June 17, 1940 and Janet L. Gellerstedt born February 11, 1943 Grandsons: Mark A. and Richard B. Whisler and Brad Steve and Paul Gellerstedt Great-grandchildren: Kelsey and Robert Whisler (Richard) Shannon Whisler (Mark) and Kyle Gellerstedt (Brad) ISU connections: Dick McGowen attended Iowa State for 2 years in Civil Engineering. Janet attended ISU from 1961 to 1964 and graduated from Mt. Union College in Ohio with a degree in math. Janet's husband Jack graduated in 1964 in mechanical engineering.

Jean Kennedy McGowen always seemed to be a "liberated" woman who enjoyed whatever she was doing. some of her early nursing career was private duty nursing in Des Moines in the 1930's because that was all that was available. She found much to interest her in that kind of nursing. When she decided to marry she gracefully accepted changing careers to one of marriage and motherhood. In the 1940's the family headed to Anchorage Alaska to live until 1949. She enjoyed this sojourn in spite of isolation from family and deprivation of some of the "comforts of home". The family returned to Bloomfield, Iowa and the McGowen family farm in 1949. Bloomfield built a hospital in the early 1950's and Jean resumed her nursing career. Although encountering many changes in the nursing field she quickly caught up. She specialized in obstetrics for many years in Bloomfield and at the Ottumwa Hospital. She especially enjoyed the labor room because she felt she had good rapport with the patients and could help make giving birth a more pleasant experience. She retired from nursing in 1975. She and Dick enjoyed traveling nature birdwatching visiting family and Just being together in their retirement years until his death in 1984. As with all the other changes in her life she managed widowhood with grace. She continued her associations with church bird club and PEO. Her quiet way of caring touched and continues to touch all those with whom she comes in contact. She is one of those people who can see the good in all people and find the positive in all events. She currently lives in Ottumwa, Iowa.


I am pleased to honor my beloved aunt Jean Kennedy McGowen who has been an important person in my life. She and my father (her brother) enjoyed a special closeness and shared much of the way they looked at life - with charity compassion humor common sense faith and a healthy dose of knowing and loving "the human condition" in all its glory and its frailty. In addition Aunt Jean and my mother were friends from nursing days at Iowa Methodist. In fact Jean was responsible for the initial adult meeting of my mother and father.

Jean was present at my birth and was a great source of strength and comfort at the too-early death of my father. She has been with me for weddings and funerals and ordinary family times throughout my childhood and adult life and I have been greatly enriched by her wisdom and insight her store of knowledge of family history and relationships and her loving interest. - Mary Jo Kennedy Stanley