Ruth Marie (Whalen) JENNE

Ruth Marie (Whalen) JENNE

January 10, 1926 – December 31, 2011

Ruth Jenne

Ruth Marie (Whalen) JENNE of Kirkland, Washington, went to be with the Lord on 12/31/11, just short of her 86th birthday. Ruth was born to Jesse Francis Whalen and Mary Claire (Mae) Deegan, in Wheeling, West Virginia. As a child she played Jacks which was good practice for surgical nursing.  Ruth graduated from St. Joseph’s Academy (high school), class of 1943 and later trained as a registered nurse in Washington, DC as the nation expanded capacity for WWII. Ruth graduated from Providence Division, School of Nursing of the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, in 1946. She met her husband Charles J. Jenne there while he was in medic training for the Pacific theater.

After the war, they married and relocated to Seattle, Washington where she continued surgical nursing at Swedish Hospital while he attended the University of Washington in engineering. In 1949, they moved to Juneau to live near his family and begin their own family. Ruth was active in support activities for St. Ann’s Catholic Church and Parochial School.

After their four children were in school, Ruth started her career with the airlines as a ticket agent for Pacific Northern Airlines. She enjoyed working with the public and in 1966 the family relocated to Ketchikan while Charles worked nearby. In Ketchikan, Ruth worked for Western Airlines and she finished her career at Alaska Airlines.

Due to her background in West Virginia, she was a lifelong union supporter and sustained a reduction in seniority by honoring picket lines. She maintained close friendships with co-workers and particularly enjoyed teaming with Joyce Anderson and Ann Matsumoto at career’s end, saying they were “the three musketeers and had a lot of laughs”. Over the years, she was fortunate to do some traveling, winning an employee drawing for a trip to Europe for herself and her husband in 1964. They enjoyed it greatly, including an historical snow storm in Rome, shopping for stylish clothes and “eating their way through Europe and losing weight”. She also traveled to Yugoslavia, Japan, and Ireland and joined fellow airline employees on a safari to Africa.

Charles preceded her in death in 1981. After retirement, Ruth relocated to the Seattle area where she enjoyed opera and theatre, became a dedicated fan of the Mariners, and volunteered with members of her Charismatic Prayer group to make sandwiches for a lunch program of Holy Family Church in Kirkland. Her daughter and son-in-law Kathleen and Dave McKinney, created an apartment in their home where Ruth finished her life in comfort.

Ruth is survived by her children Maureen Jenne of Oregon, Kathleen (David) McKinney of Washington, Paul Jenne and Deirdre (Steven) Brandow and grandson Ronald Brandow of Ketchikan as well as granddaughter Karilyn (Jason) Schaffer and three great-grandsons Austin, Brandon, and Keiran in Colorado, and niece Virginia Donaldson of California and nephew David Kenway of Utah.

The family would like to extend our gratitude to Evergreen Hospice for the fine support they provided during Ruth’s last days. We are also very appreciative of the help we got from hospice volunteer and close friend, Jan Emory.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the American Lung Association, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20004, or a charity of your choice.

A Memorial Mass will be held on Tuesday, January 10th, 2012, at 11 am, with a reception to follow at Holy Family Catholic Church, 7045 120th Avenue NE Kirkland, WA 98033-8197,

Ruth’s final resting place with be with her husband, at Bay View Cemetery in Ketchikan, Alaska. A graveside service will be held in Ketchikan at a later date.


Correspondence may be sent to: Kathleen Jenne McKinney, 12930 NE 131st Place, Kirkland, WA 98034. Please leave a comment or memory, and read others’ comments below:

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