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Jean Carlson

Jean Carlson was not going to let a eucalyptus tree that had fallen and blocked the driveway to her Petaluma home prevent her from a planned casino outing with a friend.

In her 80s then, Carlson climbed over her fence and walked down her neighbor's driveway to the street, where the friend picked her up for the trip to River Rock Casino in Alexander Valley.

Hal Althouse on Monday chuckled at the memory of having to deal with PG&E while his mother-in-law tried her luck at the video poker machines.

Gambling and playing bridge were cherished pastimes for Carlson, who died Oct. 16 at her Petaluma home after she suffered a stroke. She was 94.

Carlson will mainly be remembered as a devoted mother, wife, nurse and member of the Petaluma United Methodist Church.

As an example of her charity, Carlson cooked a Thanksgiving meal and served it to the less fortunate before she sat down with her own family to eat, said her daughter, Janet Althouse.

"She was always looking on the bright side. It was very inspirational," Janet Althouse said.

Jean Dye was born on Sept. 11, 1918, in her parents' Petaluma home. She was the second youngest of four children and lived her entire life in Petaluma, save for the years when she was earning her nursing degree from Franklin Hospital in San Francisco.

During a break in her studies, Dye attended a New Year's Eve party at the Methodist church, where she met Heimer "Ham" Carlson. The pair were married in 1941 and enjoyed more than 60 years together.

Ham Carlson was a professional chicken sexer who was featured on the television program "Ripley's Believe It or Not." During the hatching season, he rose at 3 a.m. every morning, worked late into the evening and slept only several hours a night.

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