When you think of a fun and down to earth woman, you should think of Jean Dahlgren. Jean has lived outside of Lyons since she was born on October 20, 1940. Jean’s hobbies are embroidering, crocheting, baking, and cooking. I have learned firsthand that Jean makes the most amazing chocolate chip cookies. I don’t know if it’s a secret recipe or if they’re simply made with love, but they are delicious. An interesting fact about Jean is she collects cookie jars. She has more than 30 cookie jars!
Jean was the second youngest of 8 kids. Jean grew up on a farm with dogs, hogs, and milking cows. She remembered peeking her head in the barn to ask which cows her brothers were milking, and they would always squirt her with milk. One of Jean’s favorite family memories growing up was at Christmas. Jean said, “We didn’t get much, but my mom baked big oatmeal raisin cookies and we frosted them on Christmas Eve.”
Jean went to Liberty Country School at District 58 outside of Lyons. She remembers walking a mile through snow drifts and following the creek during the winter. Sometimes she didn’t know if there was school that day, but her parents sent her anyway. Jean and her brother Bob were the first in her family to go to Lyons High School and graduated there.
Jean got married to her husband, Duane, when she was 20 years old on June 18, 1961. I asked her if her wedding was as elaborate as they are now. Jean sort of chuckled and said, “No. I was married at 7 o’clock on Sunday night and we had a little reception. All we had for the meal was ice cream and cake. Back then, ice cream could be bought in a square with maybe a little bell on top for decoration.” Jean and Duane ended up having 6 children. Their children followed in their mother’s footsteps and graduated from Lyons High School. Jean now has 3 great-grandchildren and 14 grandchildren. I asked Jean the million dollar question, “What is the secret to a happy marriage?” She said, “Communication. If you don’t like something, tell him.”
Jean had her first job in high school cleaning houses. Her first real job was at Northwestern Bell Telephone Company as a telephone operator. After the company relocated, Jean stayed home to raise her 6 children. Later, Jean got a job at a restaurant in Lyons, and currently works at the Lyons Savemore store where she puts a smile on everyone’s face.
I asked Jean if she had any advice for people my age and Jean replied with, “Do your best, study hard, get the best grade you can. Learn all you can. Keep going and stay positive. You’re never too old to learn.” I also asked, “If you had a million dollars what would you do with it?”
“I would give some to my children, donate a lot, and help,” said Jean.