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Jean Alice Carkin Sanesi Donovan

August 12, 1923 - January 20, 2019

Born August 12, 1923 in Medford, Oregon, she was the sixth child to parents, John & Vida Carkin.  Jean passed away at the age of 95 on January 20, 2019 at the Capital Manor in Salem, Oregon where she resided since 2004.  Jean’s family moved to Salem in 1929 when they lived at S Winter & Oak St. where she attended Park Grade School & Washington Parrish Jr. High, and graduating from the new Salem High School in 1941 with acceptance into the National Honor Society.  She received a music scholarship to Willamette University where she became a member of Mu Phi Epsilon, a musical honorary sorority and was Song Queen as a sophomore.  1944 she was the alto soloist at the First Christian Church of Eugene.  Then in 1945 Jean graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor’s degree in Music.  While attending an Italian language class at UO, she met her future husband Nelson Joseph Sanesi, who was serving in the Army as an Italian interpreter during WWII.  They married January 14, 1945 at her Alpha Omega Pi sorority house.  After graduation she joined her husband in Hermiston, Oregon where he was stationed at the Army Ammunition Depot.  After the war they moved to Los Angeles where Nelson’s family resided, first living at the post war housing called Roger Young Village, then buying their first home in the San Fernando Valley in Mission Hills, CA where they raised their four children.  Nelson, Sr was in the insurance business and President of The Zenith Insurance Company for 13 years until retirement as President Emeritus.
Jean was very active with volunteer work—YMCA, PTA, the PEO Sisterhood, American Association of University Women, and First Presbyterian Church of Granada Hills where she was junior choir director for decades plus served on the Board of Directors of the Presbytery.  Her lifetime project was the North Valley Family YMCA where she served on the Board of Managers for the last 12 years in So Cal.  In 1989 she was honored as Volunteer of the Year by the Metropolitan YMCA of Los Angeles and named to the Golden Book of Distinguished Service for the YMCA of L.A.  Even after her husband’s very sudden passing in 1981, she continued to be active in church, the YMCA community and golf.  Jean returned to Oregon after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake to be near three of her children and to spoil the grandkids.  She was also able to be near her brother Warren Carkin and his family.  The Sanesi family had always enjoyed summers at El Capitan in Nelscott, nearby Spanish Head, Union Creek, and Black Butte Ranch near Sisters.
Upon Jean’s return to Oregon she moved into the McNary Golf Club condos and enjoyed her big love of golfing.  Prior to the move, she played and won dozens of trophies in Southern California and traveled around the globe with her husband Nelson on golfing tours.  Likewise, she continued her golf winning streak in Oregon.  In 1996 she married fellow Willamette graduate Robert H. Donovan.  Bob and Jean were inducted into the Willamette Athletic Hall of Fame for Meritorious Services and the R.A. Booth Society in 2000.  In 2004 Jean and Bob moved to the Capital Manor and enjoyed being together in addition to traveling around the country through Elderhostel tours.
Jean leaves her four children and their families Nelson Sanesi, Jr. (& Ann) of Northridge, CA, Norman Sanesi (& Kelly) of Sisters, Nancy Sanesi Fitzpatrick (& Mike) of Lincoln City, and Jo Ann Sanesi & grandson Connor Hancock of Eugene.  Granddaughters Dr. Catherine Sanesi Holste with great grandchildren Gregory and Madeline of Houston TX, Mary Ann Sanesi Gardella with great granddaughters Margaret & Kaitlyn Gardella of San Dimas CA, Erin Sanesi Cochell & great granddaughters Madison and Mallory Cochell of Beaverton, and granddaughters Jamie Fitzpatrick (& Trent Bingham) of Makawao, HI & Jennifer Fitzpatrick, DVM of Yakima, WA.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the North Valley Family YMCA.  Mail – 11336 Corbin Ave., Porter Ranch, CA 91326.  Online – and select “Donate” near the top right. There is a field near the bottom of the donation page that allows entering “In Memory of Jean Sanesi”.

A memorial service will be 2:00pm Saturday, April 27, 2019 at Westminster Presbyterian Church (3737 Liberty Road South) in Salem.


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