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August 6, 1933 ~ February 1, 2024 (age 90) 90 Years Old
Mildred Jean Groen was born in Aubry – Stilwell, Kansas, on August 6, 1933 to Fred and Marguerite Brenner. She attended school in Stilwell, and graduated from high school in Santa Ana, California. She graduated from Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois. She met Carroll Groen when she was doing her internship with Iowa State Extension. They married on June 26, 1954.
Jean raised her family on the farm, as a farm wife. When the kids got into school, she became the director of the Hardin County Homemaker Health Aides Service providing home care for families in Hardin County, Iowa. She retired from Hardin County in 1983. Jean and Carroll moved to Clifton Colorado, where they purchased and operated a small peach farm. They then moved to Apache Junction, Arizona, where she worked for several of the parks as recreation directors, and finally as assistant manager of La Hacienda Resort.
Jean loved the desert, and she co-authored books about desert plants. Her books were about the plants of the Sonoran desert, their value as food, and their medicinal uses, as used by Indian tribes in the area. She and her co-author also wrote children’s books, starring “Flat Cactus Jack”. Jean and co-author Don enjoyed leading groups on desert hikes, both daytime and “moonlight hikes”. They provided educational seminars at local museums. One of her favorite places to volunteer was Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior, AZ. Jean was known for cooking with the plants of the desert, and providing tastings at her presentations. She had fun with things like rattlesnake feeds, and other adventurous gatherings. She had truck loads of pomegranates brought to her house, and would have “pom” cleaning parties by her swimming pool. Jean celebrated her 80th birthday by sky diving. She retired from those fun adventures when dementia overtook her abilities.
Jean passed away on February 1, 2024. Those left to cherish her memory include her children Scott (Candace) Groen, Kim (Doug) Dorn, Curt Groen, her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Jean was preceded in death by her husband, Carroll Groen, daughter Chris Groen, and brother Charles Brenner.