Juel Ivan Oen died peacefully at his home in Maple Valley, WA on February 16, 2020, two days after his 90th birthday. He was born on February 14, 1930 in Grafton, North Dakota.
Juel was an amazing man who had the gift of helping everyone in his life in countless ways. He was also known for his deep love for family, and especially the children in his life.
Juel was the oldest of 5 children born to Harold and Hazel (Peterson) Oen. From an early age he was a hard worker. As a young boy, he learned how to haul “spuds” and grain by driving their 1927 Model T truck using a throttle on the steering column since he couldn’t reach the floor. By the time he entered his teen years, he was working an assortment of jobs including building morning fires for a store in town before school, threshing with his dad for local farmers, and raking hay with the horses. By high school, Juel was working many paying jobs to help provide for the family as his dad had become ill and money was scarce. He worked at the Red Owl Grocery Store, dry cleaners, the meat market, and the bowling alley setting pins. He also helped with graveling roads and threshing as well as driving grain trucks to the local grainery.
Juel was drafted into the military in 1952 at the age of 22 during the Korean War. He served as a Marine for 2 years at Camp Pendleton in CA and Camp Magill in Japan. He received an honorable discharge in January 1954 and returned home to North Dakota. Six months later, at a dance in Lankin, ND, he met his sweetheart, Mary (Bosh) Oen and married her 3 months later on November 23, 1954. After a short stint in Los Angeles, they started their lives together in Park River North Dakota. They bought a basement house in town and built the rest of the home above ground. Juel worked at Polar Telephone Company and did carpentry work, and they had their first two of three children, daughters Barbara and Kathy, during this time. After 3 years of living in town, they sold their home and bought a farm between Brocket and Lakota, ND, and their family of four grew to five with the birth of their son, John. Juel farmed and worked carpenter jobs for eight years until 1966, when they put the farm into land retirement where it remains in the family today. Barbara was 11, Kathy 8, and John 2 when Juel brought his family to Burien, WA in Seattle where work was plentiful.
Juel obtained work as a carpenter at Bethlehem Steel and then Northwest Steel. He joined the Carpenter’s Union and started working for Rainier Brewery till they closed the carpenter shop. He then took on outside contracted jobs through the union till he retired. Always a great provider, he did finish carpentry all over Seattle. If you ever rode with him through the city, you would hear him say, “I worked there and put all the doors in that building” or “I put the cabinets up in this building” or “I sure worked with some nice guys”.
In Burien, Juel and Mary bought a house and continued to raise their family. They participated in many pursuits including camping, jeep trips, and road trips to North Dakota to visit family. Juel and Mary had a group of about 30 friends that would meet frequently to go dancing, fishing, and camping. They enjoyed traveling and drove their motorhome on a road trip across America. After retirement, they made regular trips to eastern WA for fruit and vegetables. Juel loved to can and eat home grown food, and spent several days each summer canning hundreds of pints of green beans, tomatoes, and sauerkraut, with family helping out.
After retirement, Juel and Mary sold their home in Burien and moved to Maple Valley. There Juel built a home on two and half acres with a huge workshop to tinker in. If something was broken Juel would fix it. If the broken part couldn’t be purchased, he would make it. Nothing was too hard for him to figure out. He was a master of figuring out how things worked and how to keep them working.
In 2004 they moved to a retirement community of Wilderness Villa in Maple Valley. Here they have remained very active in the community. They would regularly attend the Maple Valley and Black Diamond Senior Centers, play cards, and bingo. At home Juel liked doing puzzles, building birdhouses, and creating beautiful cutting boards that he gifted to those he loved. Juel often lent a helping hand wherever help was needed, especially for the widowed ladies in the community.
Juel took an extraordinary delight with kids. He would stop and talk to the children in stores and tell their parents, “You be good to those kids. You can never love them too much.” He loved children and took particular joy in his grandkids and his great-grandkids. One would be hard pressed to find a grandpa who loved the children in his life more than he did. He tried to attend as many of the kids’ events as he could, giving them encouragement and praise at every opportunity. Juel spent hours teaching his grandkids and great-grandkids how to drive and navigate maps. He spent many hours with his children, son-in-laws, grandson-in-laws, and grandchildren completing home renovations and building furniture with them, all the while teaching and passing along his extensive knowledge and experience as they worked side by side. Juel loved to pour into the lives of the generations under him, and we hope to share and carry it through as well as he did.
Juel is survived by his wife Mary Oen, 2 daughters Barbara (Gene) Hell, Kathy (Stacey) Liddell, son John Oen, 7 grandchildren Jennifer (Brandon) Wolslegel, Rebecca (Jayson) Hewlett, Christy (Brandon) Clarkson, Joseph (Shawnna) Hell, Julie (Lucas) Kometz, Beth (Tony) Cirelli, Mark Johnson, 14 great-grandchildren Kaiden, Kyla, and Ryder Wolslegel, Hunter Hewlett, Danielle, Austin, and Drew Clarkson, Joshua, James, and Morgan Hell, Ashley and Aiden Kometz, TJ and Meadow Cirelli, step-great-granddaughter Elsie Hewlett; sister Janet (Oen) Osman, brother Richard Oen, 3 step-grandchildren Sean, Shelby, and Jordan Liddell, and several nephews, nieces, grandnephews, and grandnieces.
Juel was preceded in death by his parents Harold and Hazel Oen, 2 brothers, Glen Oen and another who died in infancy, Harold, sister Laverne (Oen) Dahl, and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to either the Maple Valley Senior Center or Seattle Children’s Hospital.
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