Jennifer Teague | Passages

We lost Jennifer (Jen) Teague on March 26, 2020, after a battle with cancer. She died peacefully in the company of the dear friends who had been her caregivers.

Jen was “one of a kind” who could be characterized as adventuresome, athletic, and fiercely independent. Born in 1957 in Southern California she spent her formative years in North Central California growing up in the famed gold rush town of Placerville (nee Hangtown). It was there that she learned to love the outdoors, animals, and exploration.

Upon graduation from high school, the game plan included college; but, it was not to be a good fit. She joined the U.S. Marine Corps, ending her enlistment as a Lance Corporal operating heavy equipment on Okinawa.

After her discharge from the service, she was employed by a construction company, building roads. Shortly thereafter, in 1989, her father and stepmother moved to Orcas Island. The following year, during a visit, she got a job on Orcas operating the front loader at Sea Island Sand and Gravel. Tiring of the routine, she applied for and received a contract to work in Antarctica operating heavy equipment. For the next 10 seasons (except for one season in the remote mountains of Greenland).she worked about eight months a year in Antarctica driving heavy equipment. She took pride in the fact she was a SnowCat driver (and the only woman) on the original overland trek from the main base at McMurdo to the base at the geographic South Pole – a distance of about a thousand miles and an altitude gain of 10,000 feet across uncharted snow fields and crevasses!

The next phase of Jen’s life was spent on Orcas as a house painter. She was talented, meticulous, and much in demand; taking advantage of the relative freedom to adjust her work schedule to make time for other activities. Perhaps the most notable of which was a solo bicycle trip from Moscow to Kiev, Russia during the turmoil of Glasnost.

Jennifer was a natural athlete with a plethora of medals and awards. She was also an avid hiker, paddleboarder, kayaker, and biker. Interestingly, she built her cabin “off the grid,” constructed from lumber milled from trees felled to clear the building site.

Survivors include her mother, Joanne Curtice of Sacramento, California; sister Diane Sheffield, her husband Mark and daughter, Kelly also of Sacramento; and father and stepmother, Clyde and Barbara Teague of Orcas.

A memorial service will be held at a later time. We can all take comfort in what Jennifer said shortly after hearing the final diagnosis: “I am ready, I have led a wonderful life, I have no regrets.”