Obituary of Mary Jorgensen
Mary Evelyn Jorgensen died peacefully on July 23, 2014, in her Nevada City home, surrounded by her loving family. She was 98.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14 at the Sierra Friends Center (John Woolman School), 13075 Woolman Lane, Nevada City, Calif.
Mary was born on July 12, 1916, in Wabash, Ind., and raised on a farm.
She embraced Quaker worship and the way of the Society of Friends at an early age and integrated them into her life of commitment to family, community, education, peace and social justice.
Mary received her bachelor’s degree from Manchester College in Indiana. She taught for years as an elementary school teacher and later at preschool.
Her interest in an integrated education for high school students, which included gardening and rural living in community, manifested in her helping with the formation and opening of the John Woolman School 50 years ago.
At the calling of Martin Luther King Jr., Mary and her husband Russell Jorgensen joined what became known as the “Freedom Riders.” They were both arrested for desegregating a restaurant in Jackson, Miss., and served a week’s sentence in the Jackson County jail.
Over her lifetime, she participated with Russell in his service work organizing work projects in Tanzania and the Middle East. They supported many groups that work for social justice, includingthe American Friends Service Committee, Sonoma Peace and Justice Center and the Peace Center of Nevada County.
Mary enjoyed hiking the entire John Muir Trail with family in 1968. California’s High Sierra was a favorite destination and a source of inspiration. She enjoyed annual backpack trips into the mountains for over 60 years.
Mary and Russell also hiked in the Alps, the Himalayas, the Andes and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Kenya. The Jorgensens helped establish an “intentional community” just outside of Santa Rosa called Monan’s Rill in 1973.
It has been a model community of its type for many years. They lived there until they moved to Nevada City to be with their children in 2001.
Russell Jorgensen, Mary’s husband of 68 years, preceded her in death in 2009. She is survived by her children, Eric, Lynne and Paul of Nevada City and Mark who lives in Puttiparthi, India, as well as 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Mary lived her life fully. From obtaining her pilots license as a young woman, to participating in all manner of social justice issues, and enjoying family and friends, she was always engaged in life. In her last months, she continued to be nurtured by her family, friends and her love of nature.
Contributions in her name may be made to: Woolman at Sierra Friends Center, 13075 Woolman Lane, Nevada City, CA 95959; Peace Center of Nevada County, P.O. Box 605, Grass Valley, CA 95945; or Hospice of the Foothills, 11270 Rough and Ready Highway, Grass Valley, CA 95945.
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