The world lost an amazing woman when Jean Murray Carmichael passed away peacefully on July 19, 2019 surrounded by her family at Emilie Court in Spokane WA. Jean was born in Walla Walla to Howard and Esther Murray and older brother Don on June 30, 1925. Several years later, the family moved to Spokane. She attended Hutton Elementary, Lewis and Clark High School, Holy Names Academy and Washington State University. While in college she met and married William Alfstad, had three sons, Michael, Stephen and Bill. As an Air Force wife she and her family relocated to Guam, California and New Jersey before settling permanently in Spokane. Bill and Jean divorced in 1963. A single mother, she raised her three boys with the support of her parents, Esther and Howard. As a working mom she juggled as many as three jobs at a time; often typing mimeographed menus for restaurants late into the night. She found her stride when she went to work for Ferris High School where she was employed for 23 years as the head secretary. Much beloved by the students, she often attended many of their high school reunions.
In 1976 she met and married John Brennan, the gentle Irishman from New York, who flew B-17's, B-29's and B-52's. Although John was an officer in the Air Force it was made clear from the beginning that John was to take orders from Jean. Jean had a particular way of running her home, that is, tidy with everything in its rightful place. She had no tolerance for people sitting down when there was work to do. During this time Jean began her true passion; interior design. She joined Interior Development where she was known for her color sense, style and creativity. Upon John's death in 1991 she also became actively involved with a variety of non profit organizations such as Miryam’s House, the Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane, and Reach for the Future.
Jean attended her 50th high school reunion where she re-connected with a friend she had grown up with, Dean Carmichael. They married several years later. He was the love of her life! They shared a love of golf and travel. Married for 15 years, Dean passed away in 2011. Jean continued to immerse herself in design and philanthropic work until she retired in 2015 at the age of 90.
Jean always remained young. Loved by many, she surrounded herself with friends of all ages. She was a woman who adapted and grew through the many challenges of life. Quick with a smile, optimism, sense of humor, and candor she was a role model to many. Jean was never afraid to speak her mind, especially to those that knew her well.
As a member of the Parish of St. Augustine, Jean's faith in God was strong. She was often heard to say "God is Good". She died with peace knowing when her time came, she would be in God's grace.
Jean is survived by her sons, Michael (Mary Jo Dodson), Stephen (Melissa), and youngest son Bill. Devoted grandmother to Justin (Elisa), Emily, Erik and Blake; great grandmother to Aleister, Paloma and Orlando. Also aunt to Don Murray (Deborah, Meg and Quinn) and Marilynn Murray (Alan Jensen) as well as stepmother to Gregg (Natasha, Colin, Liam) and Jean Carmichael.
A celebration of Jean’s life will be held on September 7th at St. Augustine’s Parish at 10:00 A.M. A reception will take place following the service at the Church’s Fellowship Hall. Jean will be laid to rest at Riverside Memorial Park in Spokane at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to the Manito Garden Club.
To send flowers to Jean's family, please visit our floral section.