LINCOLN – Jean M. Johndro, 70, passed away Nov. 16, 2012, after a courageous battle with cancer. She died peacefully while surrounded by her sons, Mark, Barry and Terry, at her home. For those that know her sons and extended family, you know she spent many of her final weeks and days laughing with many visitors and with her sons, who spent the last four weeks living with her at her home. Jean was born June 19, 1942, in Dexter, daughter of the late Leon and Elizabeth Field. Jean was raised with her older brother, Bruce Field; and younger sister, Nancy Peachey, in Dexter.
Jean attended high school in Dexter and later she married Richard Awalt, and together they had three boys, Mark, Barry and Terry Awalt. Her first husband, Richard, died suddenly in 1969, and Jean was blessed to meet and marry Clayton Johndro. Together they had one child, Daniel “Danny” Johndro. Jean and Clayton moved in 1970 to Milo, where they remained for more than two decades and raised their family of four boys. They later moved to their lakeside home in Lincoln. While at her home in Milo, Jean spent more than 20 years hand sewing shoes for Dexter Shoe. In 1991 Jean and her husband, Clayton, helped found JSI Store Fixtures in the basement of their family home with their sons, Terry and Barry Awalt. Jean was the first to negotiate a loan to fund this very successful startup company. Jean worked as the company’s office manager and bookkeeper for more than 10 years before retiring. Her willingness to take risk and her commitment and love for her family helped create one of the most successful companies in all of Piscataquis County that now boast more than 200 employees and contributes more than $6,000,000 in payroll to the local area. Along the way, JSI has earned the accolades of Maine’s 2004 SBA Business of the Year, 2010 Maine Education Association’s Corporate Award, 2011 Governor’s Award and most recently, the 2012 Small Business Investor Alliance Portfolio Company of the Year, a prestigious national award. In her final days, Jean expressed much pride in all that the company she helped found achieved, but more importantly, she expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to give back to the Milo community, where she raised her family. And speaking of giving, Jean continues to give even after leaving this world by donating $50,000 to a variety of Milo charities, including the funding of the Jean Johndro Memorial Scholarship, which will give a $2,000 scholarship to a Milo graduate for about the next 20 years. She also helped fund Clayton Johndro Memorial Playground at Milo Elementary School, where hundreds of children now laugh and play. In her final days, Jean continued to share wisdom and laughter with her children. On one occasion, she said, “Some people wouldn’t like living like this – sick in bed, but I like it. We are all learning a lot about living … and dying.” On another occasion, she continued to make everyone laugh when she said her late husband, Clayton, was going to meet her, hold her hand and tell her he had many unimaginable places to show her in the universe. She said, “But I’m going to tell Clayton, you may have been here longer than me, but that doesn’t make you the boss!”
Surviving Jean, in addition to her three sons, Mark, Barry and Terry Awalt, are grandchildren, Kristina Awalt, Aaron Awalt, Channing Awalt, Alexis Awalt, Bradley Awalt, Ashley Awalt, Cody Johndro and Karadyance Heal; and one great-grandchild, Jayce Awalt. Jean was predeceased by her late husband, Clayton Johndro; son, Danny Johndro; and many other family members.
At Jean’s request, no formal services will be held, however, a celebration of her life will be held to honor her memory 9:30 a.m.-noon Wednesday, Nov. 21, at Lary Funeral Home, Milo.