Jill Gold, 72, a beloved longtime (nearly 40 years) Multnomah Village/SW Portland resident, passed away on January 17, 2021 and crossed The Rainbow Bridge to be greeted by her past pets.
Jill, with her beautiful hazel eyes, wonderful smile, sweet self, lively sense of humor, and great mind, is finally no longer in pain and suffering from her long bout with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS - a blood disorder), a bone-marrow transplant, a stroke, and a yucky C-Diff intestinal infection. It must be noted here that Jill maintained her smile and especially her sense of humor all the way until her final day of life.
Jill, aka Mizz Hanratty, aka Jill Diane Punkinseed, aka ms. j. rabbit, aka Wheatstraw Wilson, or that Wilson woman, often referred to herself as “the iron fist inside the velvet glove.” Raised in a Republican, Methodist dairy family household, Jill went on to become a Taoist, lifelong Democrat, and eventually lactose-intolerant as an adult.
Jill Blanding was born in Greenville, Michigan on a beautiful fall Thursday morning October 21, 1948. When she was born, her mother Janet (Waldron) said that Jill looked like “a little red Indian.” In Jill’s perspective, she enjoyed an idyllic childhood, growing up in Michigan in the late 1940s through the 1950s. Her family owned The Blanding Milk Company and Jill shared many wonderful stories about the milk plant, the workers, her family and riding along for milk deliveries. Baldwin Heights Elementary School in Greenville held a special place in her heart.
Jill’s image of the perfect time and place was from age 7, nestled in a tree, reading a book on a beautiful, perfect, warm summer day by the shore of Turk Lake near Greenville. Jill had many adventures in Greenville with her older sister Judy (Jude) and also her best friend in childhood, Cindi, and Cindi’s wonderful Border Collie dog Sukie.
When Jill was 11 years old, her family relocated to Portland, Oregon, arriving on January 1, 1960. This was very traumatic, but the girls were looking forward to seeing the pioneers and the covered wagons (only to be disappointed). Jill’s schooling continued on at West TV Elementary, William Walker Jr. High School, Sunset High School, Oregon State University (OSU), and Portland State University (PSU). Jill started out as a Business major at OSU and later switched to Sociology and Women’s Studies at PSU, and some of the “secretarial skills” she learned at OSU did prove to be helpful in her career.
Jill loved school and to read and write. Jill was a lover of the written word her entire life. She had been working on writing memoirs of her childhood in Greenville. Jill continued to be an avid reader all the way until she suffered her stroke in July, 2020 - the stroke hampered her ability to focus on reading and comprehension for lengthy periods. Jill also possessed great visualization skills for color, design, construction, sewing, jewelry making/repairing, and arranging.
Jill’s love of the word carried over to her lifelong love of music, particularly of singer-songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and The Beatles. Her best friend and adventure-mate in Portland during middle and high school, Dee/”Boog,” said that she and Jill were always writing down the lyrics to The Beatles’ songs. Throughout Jill’s month-long final stay in the hospital, Dana shared a wide variety of music and favorite songs with Jill. This provided her with pleasure, smiles, and tapping along with the beat, to offset her ongoing pain. On Jill’s final day, she was accompanied by Bob, Leonard, John, Paul, George, and Ringo, for her last breaths.
Her love of the written word guided her throughout her career as a typesetter, copy editor, and proofreader, primarily in Portland and briefly in Corvallis, Oregon. Jill worked for newspapers, magazines, graphic arts companies, and publishing companies. This included: The Scribe, Willamette Week, One Dollar Magazine, Corvallis Gazette-Times, Harrison Typesetting, American Graphics, RFD Publications, US West Dex, and Bookpartners Publishing. On the side, Jill also helped several authors with the editing of their manuscripts (this includes you, Marko!).
She had an exceptional eye for what read well and sounded good. Jill was a stickler for proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation - this continued on even in her hospital room in her final days when she questioned a nurse about the spelling of her name (“Rachele, what’s the deal with the “e” on the end for Rachel?”)
Jill was very proud of the brave decision she made to not have her own children. She was a great lover of animals, especially rescue dogs. Jill also had many rabbits, guinea pigs, and fish over the years. But, it’s the dogs who held the most-special place in her heart. Six days before she died, Jill was able to have a wonderful and special visit with her dogs, “the ladies,” Zora and Bluebelle (with many hugs, licks, and kisses) in front of the OHSU hospital (just outside in her wheelchair at The Kohler Pavilion). One cannot medically measure dog therapy.
Jill and Dana shared the imagery of her pets welcoming and guiding her across The Rainbow Bridge when she passed on. Jill loved the outdoors and especially her many dog walks at Gabriel Park in Multnomah Village and walking with Dana and “the ladies” on the beach at Manzanita over the years.
Jill’s sister Susie (Susan) is five years younger than Jill and her sister Mimi (Mary) wasn’t born until the family moved to Portland. Over the last 26 years, the four sisters have become even closer with time. In her final days, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Jill was fortunate to be able to participate in video chats with her sisters, brothers-in-law, and finally with her mother. This closure, along with the visit with “the ladies,” provided Jill with a sense of peace leading to acceptance.
Jill met her first true love, her first husband Luke Wilson, at OSU. They married in 1969. She met her second true love, her second husband Dana Gold, initially in 1977 at Willamette Week and later again when they reconnected in 1994 and married on August 16, 1998. Jill and Dana were together until she died. Jill had become a native Oregonian and Portlander, having lived the last 61 years of her life here. Jill, Dana, and Luke have become close friends in recent years.
Jill is survived by her husband Dana, her former husband Luke, her 96-year-old mother Janet Blanding, her sisters Judy Hathaway, Susie Blanding Wilson, and Mary (Mimi) deBlondin Chase, her brothers-in-law Peter Wilson and Larry Chase, Dana’s daughter Sophie-Shifra Gold and granddaughter Marisa Gold, plus nieces and nephews Lindsey Hathaway, David Hathaway, Art and Anna Dulin, and Jill and Dana’s dogs Zora and Bluebelle.
Jill was preceded in death by her father Art Blanding (2010), as well as by Stella Flora, Ruby Rose, Chloe Pinto, Betty Lionheart, Roxy, Henry, Jesse, Fritz I and II, Sukie, Jasper, Petey Wheatstraw, Kahlua Ann Creme, Domino, Rosalie, and Pinky Lee.
As Jill and Dana said at their wedding, when they joined hands, and again, the night before she died, when they joined hands once again (with Jill alert, smiling, with her eyes open): “In the words of the late, great Bill Naito: This is a Great City and a Great Day!”
To honor Jill, her wish was for donations to be made to the Oregon Humane Society, Oregon Dog Rescue, or a women’s shelter of your choosing.
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