Surrounded by her children, loving family, and friends, Jeanette Mae Poulson (née Tray) passed away on June 30, 2022, in Galesburg. The second of four children, Jean was born on February 20, 1939, in Philadelphia, PA to Elsie Mae Lange and Michael Francis Tray, Jr. Her father sadly passed in an apartment fire only one month before Jean’s 16th birthday, so she helped her mom raise and look after her younger siblings until her first marriage in December of 1956. Jean gave birth to her first daughter, Lorean June, on November 11, 1957, in Philadelphia and was a single mother of only 19 after her divorce in 1958. Despite the many barriers for women at the time, Jean was able to provide for her daughter, and eventually met the man who would become her husband of over 60 years, David William Poulson.
Jean and Dave met in Philadelphia while he was there working as a Marine Recruiter. Dave saw Jean from across the room and—when he finally sat next to her—told her he wouldn’t leave until she gave him her number. The city girl looked at the strapping Marine and laughingly gave him her number. The two got married on August 20, 1960, and moved back to Dave’s family farm in Galesburg, IL where Jean and Lori were welcomed with love and open arms. Jean’s sister-in-law, Joy, fondly remembered watching as Jean would change into beautiful dresses and freshen up with perfume and makeup before Dave would come home from work every day. Jean gave birth to her second child, a son, David William II, on July 29, 1961, in Galesburg. Jean and Dave would eventually move to Madison, WI, where her next son, Mark Philip, was born on September 3, 1962. When Jean was 26, she gave birth to her fourth child, a daughter named Lynda Jeanne, born July 8, 1964. The family lived in Madison before moving to Green Bay, WI where they would live until the 1980s.
Having grown up using the public transportation of Philly, Jean didn’t get a driver’s license until 1968 at the age of 29, while living in Green Bay. She needed her license because Jean was actively involved in the lives of her children; she was a Brownie leader for both Lori and Lynda, and a Den mother for David and Mark. She also loved bowling and took David, Mark and Lynda to bowling leagues. Jean had close relationships while in Green Bay with her friend Jean Kister and neighbor, Mary Ann Lacrosse and loved to crochet. She taught Lori how to crochet even though Jean was left-handed, and Lori is not. Jean would pass this left-handed trait down to 3 of her grandchildren. Jean was also an enthusiastic grandmother, making sure to send a card, Barbie pajamas, or something she had made to each of her grandchildren for every birthday and holiday.
After Dave and Jean moved back to Galesburg, Jean received her GED on May 17, 1988, from Carl Sandburg College. Her sister-in-law, Jewel Winters, was also in the class. Throughout her life, Jean was an avid crafter, loving to crochet, paint ceramics, cross stitch, embroider, make homemade Christmas ornaments, rug latching, and even made macramé plant holders. She would crochet baby blankets for grandkids and cross stitch birth announcement wall keepsakes. Jean also hand-embroidered Christmas Stockings for each of her 4 children and 9 grandchildren, which are beloved and still used each Christmas. Whether it was Jean’s love of movies, science fiction, fresh bread, romance novels, or a grasshopper after Christmas dinner, she left behind a family who will deeply miss her and treasure their individual shared memories.
Jean was preceded in death by her father, Michael Francis Tray, Jr. (passed 1/29/55),
mother, Elsie Mae Tray Deffler (passed 9/11/88), her brother William (Billy) Tray Sr. (passed 3/3/06), her brother Michael Francis Tray, (passed 5/16/14), her half-sister, Louise DeCarlo DiLisio (passed 12/21/19), and one grandchild, Heather Ann Diefendorf (passed 5/31/18).
Jean is survived by her children, Lori (Dave), David (Kaia), Mark, and Lynda (Jim), her grandchildren, Stacy, Danny, Ginger, Erin, Meg, Liz, Kate, Conor, and her 3 great-grandchildren, Lilly, Sammy, and Jett (with one more on the way!).
After celebrating their 61st wedding anniversary on August 20, 2021, and renewing their wedding vows on August 20, 2019, Jean’s husband, David William Poulson, passed away on June 29, 2022—36 hours later, after prayer and surrounded by love, Jean passed and the two were reunited, forever.
Their combined visitation will be August 12th, 2022, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Watson Thomas Funeral Home, 1849 North Seminary Street, Galesburg, IL 61401. The joint funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on August 13, 2022 at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Galesburg Rescue Mission. Online condolences may be made through www.watsonthomas.com.