The Jean E. Thomson Foundation's

Jean E. Thomson and her dear friend Carol D. Zajac

Carol and Jean in their younger days

Both Jean and Carol were members of the Photographic Society of America. Jean had an extensive background & work history in photography, and Carol had just retired from Weyerhaeuser. She enjoyed photography as a hobby. Soon they became close friends. Thru the years Jean and Carol worked on many projects; providing a boost for the PSA, participating in photo contests, even assisting with their neighborhood organization by implementing by-laws and accounting methods that were much needed. They worked on several publications, and hosted numerous slide show presentations for excellence in the art of photography.

Jean's newspaper article

Jean had battled breast cancer earlier in her life, and won her battle. Carol had also battled breast cancer before she met Jean. However, years later Carol's cancer returned in the form of bone cancer. It was to become the toughest battle for both Carol and Jean that they had ever faced before. Carol was diagnosed in 1995, and she soon undertook various cancer treatments. Through the next three years Carol went from ups to downs with her health. Jean was always by her side, providing emotional support and encouragement. The cancer took it's toll, and in November of 1998 Carol passed with her family & Jean there. It was not unexpected, but it was a great loss that left Jean without her dear friend of almost 20 years.

Carol's obituary notice

Carol's family became closer to Jean; having the common loss, and caring for Jean as family was easy because she was considered family for so many years already. It was a year later- almost to the day since Carol passed that Jean would find herself in a fight for her life. Jean fell ill, and the diagnosis was Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, or ARDS. She was not getting enough oxygen in her lungs & into her bloodstream to meet the needs of her brain and organs. She was admitted to the hospital. Over the next two weeks Jean's condition deteriorated. She went into a coma, and was put on basic life-support. The prognosis was not good. The doctor said the chances of her survival were slim. She was in her late 70's, and not many with ARDS at that age recover from the illness, even at it's earliest stages.

Near the end of the 2nd week her doctor advised the family that she may not have much time left; she had gone into the final stage when the illness overcomes the victim. Her body began to shut down. She went septic; her blood circulation stopped in her toes, then in her feet- and it was speading to all her extremities. At that point she was not expected to survive the night. The family stayed with her and waited, saying many prayers and finally falling a strained sleep in the waiting room- believing the nurse would call them back in when it was Jean's time.

Early the next morning is when it happened: the Miracle. It started for the family with a rush of commotion- the nurse calling the family into Jean's room. Not in a state of empathy, but instead in a sense of wonder & urgency. In her room was a lot of activity: talking and things being done around Jean. She was alive, she was conscious, she had all of her faculties about her, and she had just shocked & amazed all the medical professionals around her! Jean had come out of her coma and sat straight up in her bed; asking the nurses for her medical reports. Who had treated her? What procedures did they perform? What was her current status? The bottom line was: Jean had an absolute Miracle recovery!

The family was overwhelmed with joy and full of questions. How did this happen? Wasn't it very unusual if not near impossible for her to recover from her state? Will she be o.k.; does she have any brain damage? But it was clearly evident to the family as soon as they talked to her, just as it was to the staff- Jean came back from the brink of death, and she had no ill effects.

But just how much of a Miracle had just happened was still was not known yet, except to Jean. She seemed a little different. She had a kind of a "glow" about her. She soon described to the family what happened to her. She talked of being in a daze she could not escape from. She felt herself weakening, and then she felt that she left her body. Her pain was gone, her heaviness was lifted, and she rose up. She told of seeing bright light- not just "a" light, but bright light all around her. She felt warmth, and soon she saw someone in front of her.

Perhaps what Jean saw during her Miracle

As she came closer to the figure she saw it was Carol. She was so happy to see Carol. Then Carol spoke to her. She said that Jean had more to accomplish, and she must go back. Carol also asked Jean to relay a special message of love to a certain person in the family, so there was clarity of Carol's love for that person. Jean acknowledged the messages from Carol, then she found herself back in her body. She awoke, and realized she was in the hospital again. She sat up in her bed, calling out to the nurses for her medical reports; which shocked them. The nurses and doctors said nobody had ever been that close to death, then made such a complete & rapid turn-around, let alone sat up instantly from such a condition. Jean had a remarkable recovery & was released from the hospital within a few days. This experience had a profound impact on her. She realized that Carol's faith in God, and that we are all children of God is true. Although Jean had faith before, it was made stronger, and she had a determination to do something about it.

The Foundation's logo. Jean designed it & Ken painted the tile

Jean took Carol's words to heart, and although she had already filed legal papers to start the Non-Profit Foundation in honor & memory of Carol, and she had chosen Ken & Debbie to be the Officers- she had no clear and defined goals other than to give all her money away upon her passing. The first Foundation Board meeting had occured just before Jean fell ill, and details of the goals were not yet decided; nor were they set in place.

Ken and Debbie Zajac

The Thomson-Zajac Foundation existed on paper, but Jean's Miracle helped bring clarity and purpose to just what the mission goals were to become. In the next Board meetings Jean and the Officers discussed her intent; after Jean passes her life-time earnings/investments will become the Foundation's, and they are to be donated to worthy causes such as cancer & MS & MD fighting research, organizations that help the human condition, religious organizations, the arts, and other non-profits that the Board would later determine. Ken & Debbie brought up the thought of a continuing foundation, which could help more people over a long period of time- rather than Jean's earlier plan to donate everything at one time. That got Jean thinking, and it was agreed. The Foundation was now set with the mission goals; the guidelines were written and the intent was to be a continuing non-profit. It was later decided to avoid any confusion or possible misunderstanding due to the Board consisting of a majority of Zajac family members, that the name be changed to the Jean E. Thomson Foundation.

Jean had then completed the work Carol told her of during her Miracle, and it was time for Jean's gift of helping people by way of her Foundation to begin. Jean passed in 2003, and her Foundation's operations began. Since that time, and thanks to Jean's faith in the Lord and trusting & doing what He wants of us, Jean's legacy has reached hundreds of thousands of people. It continues to this day, and with God's blessings will continue for many years to come. The legacy of the Jean E. Thomson Foundation is due to, and will always be thankful for that one night in 1999 when Jean seemed to be lost to us- until God stepped in with a Miracle, and spoke to Jean through Carol D. Zajac. If it were not for that, Jean may have passed away & her Foundation may have been as she first thought- a one-time donation that ended the Foundation's existance.

Jean's obituary notice