“Autumn in the Fields of Language”
Without wind the yellow leaves
hang slack. Maple, elm and oak
lift torches to the blue of heaven.
A scarlet burning bush ignites the air.
Evergreens comfort the eye,
relief from all that fire and gold.
When my last warm season’s done
and time’s come to leave this world
of words, bright fields of language
where I play and sing, let flame
in me some final brilliant work
like autumn leaves in changing light.
May I rejoice in having had my say.
From: “Autumn in the Fields of Language”
by Jeanne Lohmann, 2015
Jeanne Ruth (Ackley) Lohmann, 93, passed away September 26, 2016 at her home in Olympia, Washington with family close. She was a mother, sister, wife, poet, lover of literature, social justice, beauty and cooking! She was born in Arcanum, Ohio, on May 9, 1923, the oldest of three children. She attended Otterbein College for a year on a scholarship in French, and graduated from Ohio State University in 1945 with a degree in the social sciences. Her summers afforded opportunities for service with the American Friends Service Committee, the Lisle Fellowship, and work at Stuyvesant Neighborhood House in New York City. After graduating from college, she held a year’s Danforth Graduate Fellowship at the University of Kansas, and then moved to Chicago to work for three years as the Executive Director of the University YMCA.
She married Henry Lohmann (Hank) in 1947, and their strong and loving partnership continued until his death in 1985. In 1948, they went to postwar Germany with the National Student YMCA-YWCA, helping to clear rubble in Bremen, and for service work in a local hospital and kindergarten. Their four children were born in Denver, where Hank worked for the National Farmers Union and as editor with the Colorado Labor Advocate. During their 10 years in Denver, they helped found Mountain View Friends Meeting, directed an Interns-in-Agriculture project for the American Friends Service Committee, and provided leadership for units of the Lisle Fellowship. In the years following Hank’s death, Jeanne continued their mutual commitment to service, and to their love for the arts, camping and travel with a Quaker study tour to the then-Soviet Union in 1987, to writers’ conferences in Italy, and workshops in the United States.
The Lohmann family moved to San Francisco in 1960, where Hank worked for the Northern California Friends Committee on Legislation, and then for 11 years as a social studies teacher at Mission High School. Jeanne and Hank earned Master’s degrees from San Francisco State University in 1979, and Jeanne’s work in creative writing nourished her lifelong love of literature, and encouraged her to develop her skills in a vocation as poet, editor, mentor and workshop leader, a path she followed after moving to Olympia, where her home served as a gathering place for poets and writers.
Jeanne’s published work includes ten collections of poetry and several prose volumes. The annual Jeanne Lohmann Poetry Awards, established by her San Francisco writer’s community in honor of her 80th birthday, were given each spring under the auspices of the Olympia Poetry Network. Jeanne’s poetry readings in Olympia and elsewhere are remembered with appreciation and affection. Six of her poems can be found in the woods and walkways at Providence St. Peter Hospital. Garrison Keillor recently read two of her poems on “Writer’s Almanac.”
She is survived by four children, nine grandchildren, three great-grandchildren: Stephen and Isabelle (Tabacot), and their children, Francesca Lohmann (Nicholas Simpson), and Lucas; David and Margaret, and their children, Dan (Katya), son Wyatt, and Christina; Karen Lohmann (Joe Tougas), their children, Sam (Michaela Curtis-Joyce) and daughter Cecilia Mae, and Ramona Tougas (Sara Nienaber), Morgan Tougas and son, Dean Teruki Tougas; and Brian and Kathleen and sons, Django George and Alistair Keefe.
Jeanne was a member San Francisco Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) from 1961 until 1993, when she moved to Olympia and transferred her membership to the Olympia Friends Meeting. She and Hank were mainstays of the SF Meeting during their time there, as she was in Olympia, later. Friends in Olympia welcomed her not infrequent sharing of poems that came to her in the silence.
A memorial meeting for worship/celebration of life was held in Olympia on Sunday, November 13, 2016. Memorial donations may be made to the Olympia Friends Meeting, the Olympia Poetry Network, Friendly Water for the World, The American Friends Service Committee or to a charity of your choice.
“As I dig for Wild Orchids
in the Autumn fields
It is the deeply-bedded root
That I desire,
Not the Flowers.”