The Napa Valley has lost a renowned garden consultant, civic leader, matriarch and loving mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. Her soul moved into eternal light quickly at the age of 97 from natural causes on February 5, 2021.
Jean (Wilma Jean) was born January 17, 1924 in Hominy, Oklahoma. When her maternal grandfather passed away, she moved from Carmen, Oklahoma with her grandmother (Georgia Autry), and her mother (Verna Autry Holtz) to Corvalis, Oregon to be closer to her uncle Charlie. While attending Oregon State University she met and married John (Jack) Louis Michels, becoming a World War II bride in 1943. Thankfully, Jack returned from the War. Their daughter Judy was born in 1944 and they moved with the Army, living in Japan, California, Texas, and Virginia. The family moved to Chicago where John Louis Michels Jr. was born (1951). In 1957, Jean, Jack, Judy, and Johnny moved to Silverado Trail in St. Helena. Jean fell in love with the Napa Valley, learning all she could about every patch of ground and micro-climate from the valley floor to the surrounding mountains. She remained in the Napa Valley until her passing.
While tiny (5'1") and frail in her later years, her mind was strong. Jean was active in numerous community affairs. Jean was a Girl Scout leader, involved with American Field Service Scholarship Program, The St. Helena Main Street Tree Committee, Grace Episcopal Church, and many other organizations.
Her passions were her family and gardening. Her spunkiness was unmatched. She had a sparkle in her eyes and a very good sense of humor. She remained a source of plant knowledge for many businesses and friends, even as her body began to fail her.
She was preceded in death by her husband Jack and her son John.
She is survived by her daughter Judy Winckler and her daughter-in-law Pam Imbach, as well as a large extended family of 8 grandchildren, their spouses, and 14 great grandchildren.
Jean will be missed by all who knew her.
A celebration of life will be held at Grace Episcopal Church on Spring Street in St. Helena at 11:00am on Saturday, November 27th, 2021. Her family hopes it will be safe to gather at that time. Because Jean supported so many organizations in the Valley, you may donate in her memory to a charity of your choice.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Jean Michels, please visit our floral store.