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Jeanne Marie (Henriot) Pierson
August 3, 1931 ~ August 31, 2023 (age 92) 92 Years Old
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Margaret Jeanne Marie (Nini) Henriot Pierson, one of the original United Airlines “fly girls,” took her final flight to be home with her beloved Bill on the evening of August 31st, surrounded by love and family. She was 92 years young.
Jeanne was born in Chehalis, Washington in 1931. Every summer of her childhood was spent with her three brothers and sister at the family beach house on Puget Sound, a place she loved deeply throughout her life.
When Jeanne was three years old, the Henriot family moved to Tacoma, where she attended and graduated from St. Patrick Catholic School and Aquinas Academy. She enrolled at Marylhurst University in Portland for her freshman year, later transferring to the College of Puget Sound (now the University of Puget Sound) in Tacoma where she was an active Pi Beta Phi sorority member.
The early 1950s were the golden age of flying, and Jeanne was drawn to the glamour and fun of a career in the skies. Leaving college just short of graduation, she interviewed with United Airlines for a coveted position as a stewardess. At a time when only one in 30 applicants made it through the interview process, Jeanne earned her wings and joined the Friendly Skies. Her fellow “stews” became close, lifelong friends as they roomed together in Newark, Seattle and Los Angeles. Jeanne regularly flew a Los Angeles to Honolulu route, and Hawaii became a favorite destination for her through the decades.
One weekend on a layover, when Jeanne and a fellow stewardess were set up on a double blind date with two handsome Notre Dame graduates, she found her life partner and best friend. Jeanne and William (Bill) Pierson married in January 1959. At that time, stewardesses were forced to retire if they married, so Jeanne left the airline, but her love of travel, adventure, and warm beaches never left her.
Jeanne and Bill settled in Los Angeles where they welcomed their first three daughters, Ann Marie, Joan and Julie. The Piersons moved to Portland in 1967 where two more daughters, Susan and Patti-Sarah, joined the family. Every summer was spent in part at Puget Sound, just as Jeanne had in her childhood.
Jeanne shared her talents with the community through volunteer work with the United Airlines Clipped Wings alumnae organization, Christ Child Society, the St. Thomas More Altar Society and as a reading tutor. 30 years after leaving college, she demonstrated to her daughters the importance of education by returning to Marylhurst to earn her bachelor’s degree.
Jeanne worked in the 1980s and 90s as a reading instructor in Portland Public Schools, helping pioneer the use of personal computers to teach students to read through writing. In retirement, she and Bill enjoyed travel with trips to Hawaii, Alaska, Virginia, Palm Springs, Ireland, and Holland as particular highlights (always flying on United Airlines). They welcomed nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, each one the love of Grandma Nini’s life.
Jeanne was an avid reader and gifted writer. She had a talent for forming deep, lasting friendships and never missed an opportunity to host or join a party. Her friend groups, including her former stewardess circle and the Fiasco Group (a spin-off of an epic bridge club), traveled together, celebrated and supported each other for decades.
Jeanne was predeceased by her beloved husband of 62 years, Bill. She is survived by her brother Fr. Peter Henriot, S.J.; daughters Ann Marie (Skip) Lei, Joan (David) Ogden, Julie (Peter) Doyle, Susan (Richard) Pierson-Brown and Patti-Sarah Pierson; grandchildren Kevin (Caitlin), Sarah and Maggie Doyle, Katie and Alex Lei, Carmen and Remy Ogden, and Isabella and Dylan Brown; and great-grandchildren Jackson Blosser, Grace, Callahan and Brady Doyle.
A memorial service will be held at St. Pius X Catholic Church on 7 October 2023 at 10:00 a.m. The Pierson family suggests remembrances in Jeanne’s honor to scholarship programs at St. Mary’s Academy, where all five of her girls attended