Mother, sister, wife, grandmother, aunty and friend.
It is with great sorrow, yet also with a sense of calmness and release that we share with you Jewel’s passing on Dec. 13, 2020 in Port Richey, Florida from complications of a long battle with polycystic kidney disease (PSD). The recipient of two kidney transfers during her life kept her spirit strong and she never complained or let this interfere with living a vibrant life. She was fearless and lived above the limitations the diagnosis tried to put upon her. She never let it dictate her life and those who knew her can attest to the beautiful, colorful and spiritual life she lived and shared with us.
Born in Chicago on Feb. 3, 1947, Jewel always had adventure in her soul. In 1973 she moved to Port Townsend and began her love affair with Puget Sound. She was one of the first women in the Washington State Ferries system to earn a Chief Mates License and spent 25 years piloting the boats of the Sound. If you were ever lucky enough to be in the wheelhouse with her, she would point out from the wheel and say, “Look at my office — I have the best view in the world.” Her career in the maritime industry resulted in paving the way for many women who followed her and her legacy will live on forever in those she helped to gain access to careers in the maritime trades.
Jewel’s first priority was always her two beautiful children, Laura (Roy Flanigan) and Gracian Cline (Khadija Sifelhak). She was a friend to the mothers she raised her children with here in Port Townsend during a time when motherhood was characterized by sisterhood. It was often said of Jewel that she never met a stranger. She was always available to help others, find connections for those in need and open her home to folks who needed a place for a few days to gather themselves. She was selfless in her giving, generous with her love and wise in her advice.
In retirement Jewel relished the time she had to dote on her three beautiful grandchildren: Luke, Zoe and Ben Flanigan. She was there for their births and got to share their lives with them all the way up through high school. She was a force in their lives, loved them fiercely and delighted in all things she was able to do with them as their Nannie.
Jewel is survived by her children Laura Flanigan and Gracian Cline; her sister Karen Bednarski; husband Harry Atwell; and Harry’s son Cory Atwell. She was preceded in death by her father Glenn Schwitters, her mother Marguerite Feeley and her brother Glenn Schwitters. She leaves behind many nieces and nephews and many dear friends that she sustained deep and meaningful friendships with for decades.
Jewel was sage-like in her learnings and philosophy about death. She was a student of Ram Dass and gained wisdom and comfort from his writings. In that spirit we thought you’d like to carry this with you as you walk home. We think Jewel would approve.
“Death is not waiting for us at the end of a long road. Death is always with us, in the marrow of every passing moment. She is the secret teacher hiding in plain sight. She helps us to discover what matters most. And the good news is we don’t have to wait until the end of our lives to realize the wisdom that death has to offer.” - Frank Ostaseski
Thank you, Jewel — for sharing your love, your heart, your wisdom and your strength with us. All of us who loved you will walk with you here until we see you again.
Laura and Gracian will host a celebration of life in Port Townsend hopefully on the Summer Solstice 2021 (information will be forthcoming).