Jean Frances Kowalski Fischer exited stage left on December 10, 2023...5 years to the date since her
husband Bill Fischer passed on December 10, 2018. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri on February
4, 1933 to Pauline and Edward Kowalski and was always proud of her Polish heritage. Her list of
challenges, experiences and accomplishments began with her earliest challenge of having an eye
removed at age 3 due to a cancerous growth. She viewed life through one eye almost her entire life but
that didn't change how she looked at the world. She was always ready to try new things and
approached new experiences with a positive and fun attitude.
She was the first child in her family to finish eighth grade and went on to graduate Beaumont High
School and complete secretarial training at Logan Chiropractic College where she met her first
husband, Bill Welch. Together they moved first to Alaska to marry, and then to his native Montana to
have three children, Lynn, Bill, and Jackie. She easily made friends wherever she went and embraced
her western surroundings despite being so far from her St. Louis family.
Jean was a beloved local personality in Polson for many years, known for her infectious laugh and
devotion to Christ and the Episcopal Church. She worked as a secretary at Polson High School and
Security State Bank and Dupuis Lumber when her children were young. She performed on “Showboat
Round the Bend” and served as a member and officer of the Jayceens. She loved theater and was an
original star of The Port Polson Players where she was awarded Best Actress for her favorite role as
Nurse Ratchet in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She co-owned and managed The Polson Animal
Clinic for 15 years followed by co-ownership of Anchor Drug in Polson. She participated in the local
women’s softball and bowling leagues, (strictly for the laughs) as well as the Soroptimists Club and the
Red Hat Ladies. She could walk into any store or restaurant or the post office and it would always be
an additional 5-10 minutes because someone would say, “Hi Jeanie!” If you went to a movie you
would always know that she was there once the laughter started because she was the loudest laugh in
the audience. She had also been an Arabian show horse breeder and at one time was the Community
Concerts regional representative which involved traveling throughout Montana and Wyoming in the
winter, by herself. She even tried skeet shooting and golf which required quite a handicap with one
She married Bill Fischer in 1991 and moved to his farm in Ferndale. After a courageous victory over
cancer, she survived to travel with him across the country in an RV building homes with Jimmy Carter
and Habitat for Humanity before settling in Kalispell. Jeanie and Bill were married for 27 years until
his passing in 2018.
Smart, independent, tough, charitable, empathetic, a supporter of the underdog and defender of the notso-
fortunate are just a few ways to describe her. She enjoyed life, laughed a lot and would talk to
anybody. There were no strangers in her life. To say she will be missed is not even close to what will
actually be felt. It is devastating to lose her but we are thankful that she is at peace now.
She is survived by her children Lynn Welch, Bill (Crissy) Welch and Jackie (John) Gootee,
grandchildren Alison and Georgia Gootee and Alex Welch and her brothers Chuck and Rich Kowalski.
The family would like to thank all the caregivers at Logan Health and Brendan House who helped
Mom in her final days. They treated her with caring kindness and we will be forever grateful for that. A
memorial service will be held at a later date.