Jean A. Schwalbenberg

PORTLAND — Jean Ann Schwalbenberg, 83, died at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House on Jan. 10, 2011, after a valiant fight with colon cancer.

Born on May 2, 1928 in New York, N.Y., to Maurice and Audrey Ford Powers, Jean was the eldest of three daughters. In 1933, the family moved upstate to Shrub Oak. Jean graduated from Shrub Oak High School in 1945.

Having known at an early age that she wanted to be a nurse, she was heartbroken when her father decided the only respectable profession for his daughter was teaching and that she would go to teacher’s college. Determined to be a nurse, Jean enlisted the help of her grandmother and family physician and applied to and was admitted to Manhattan State College of Nursing without her parents’ knowledge. Her father had a change of heart when Jean graduated valedictorian of her class in July 1948.

On July 3, 1948, Jean married Peter J. Schwalbenberg, moved to the Bronx and after graduation accepted a position as charge nurse at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.

After starting their family, the couple moved out of the Bronx, purchased the Oasis Garage and settled in Putnam Valley, N.Y. While raising the children, Jean also managed the family business while Peter forged his career. Jean was active in the Women’s Club, Republican Party, and volunteered for Catholic Charities teaching remedial reading.

In 1964, Jean earned a N.Y. State social worker license, and in five short years was promoted to director of Medical Social Services for Putman County, N.Y., a position she held until 1974 when the family moved to Maine so that Pete could open Region 8 Vocational School in Rockland. From 1975 to 1989, Jean returned to the medical field as director of nursing at Knox Center for Long Term Care, where she was respected for transforming the health facility into a comforting home for its residents.

She was an active board member of the Salvation Army, the Republican Party, Penobscot Bay Medical Center, and a founding board member of Area Interfaith Organization in Rockland.

Jean enjoyed outings on the family boat and traveling across the country to visit friends and family, which has now grown to include 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She also enjoyed international trips, first with Pete to Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, and later with her sister, Maurine, to England, Scotland and France; and with her sister, Barbara, and husband, Ben, to Ireland.

In 1992, Jean moved to Falmouth and later settled in Portland. Jean was a Eucharist minister at Holy Martyrs Church in Falmouth for many years. She treasured her time with her grandchildren and the company of her closest friends and “the girls” from Deering Pavilion during their weekly bridge game.
Jean was predeceased by her husband Pete in 1990; and her sister Maurine in 2003.

She is survived by sons, Peter Jr. of Singapore, Robert of Glen Ridge, N.J. and Richard of Brownfield; daughters, Nancy Colson of Owl’s Head and Jody Duran of Falmouth; 13 grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and sister, Barbara Hogan of Delaware.

Visiting hours will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 13, at the Conroy-Tully Crawford Funeral Home, 172 State Street, Portland. A 10 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, Jan. 14, at Holy Martyrs Church, 266 Foreside Road, Falmouth. A spring burial will be at Coughlin Memorial Cemetery, Rockland. Online condolences may be expressed at:

Those who desire may make donations in Jean’s memory to: Catherine McAuley High School, 631 Stevens Avenue, Portland, ME 04103.

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