Alice “Gooney” Lewis Jefferson, age 56, of the Lummi Nation, was born May 9, 1964 to Lillian Solomon-Kinley and Douglas Paul Jefferson, Sr. Alice passed away peacefully on May 26, 2020 with her daughter and son by her side.
Alice grew up with her siblings playing along the shores and in the forests of Lummi reservation. She is the granddaughter of Dora and Felix Solomon and Isabelle and David Jefferson. She comes from a long line of fisherman, hunters and gathers. Alice often reminisced of her childhood days, living across from the fruit orchard in their home her father and uncles built. Her and her siblings shared a single room. She grew up playing with her neighborhood cousins; Her Uncle Willard’s, Uncle Johnny’s and Auntie Nancy’s children. She grew up learning to harvest shellfish and salmon. She learned how to preserve and can fruit and vegetables. She spent a lot of time as a young girl with her grandparents, passing time helping with house hold chores and watching her Grandmother Dora weave cedar baskets, mats, and regalia. She cherished all of those childhood memories of what she said was of a simpler time.
Alice became a young mother at the age of 17, giving birth to her daughter Charene, then again at age of 18 to her son Michael with her then companion Francis. She was a stay at home mom, while Francis and the rest of the men of her family fished commercially along the west coast. Alice’s stay at home mothering was abruptly interrupted however when she suffered a brain aneurysm. She was not expected to survive, all of the physicians were sure of it. However, her Mom refused to believe a single word of it. Her Mom Lillian’s motherly instincts surely gave Alice the time necessary to prove she would recover. And she did, it took a long time, a lot of tears, all her strength and a great deal of speech and physical therapy to learn to walk and talk all over again. Ultimately, her life was forever changed. She had to learn new ways of living life. Her resilience to overcome many hurtles and adversities developed a tremendous strength and determination within her.
As years went on she continued to take care of herself, her home and family. She never let her self be limited by what others thought was safest or best for her. She adamantly declared and defended her own independence. She lived life to her fullest. She traveled all over the United States, usually by Grey Hound to see new places and meet new faces. She did so until finally returning home to settle down with her late companion Brian. They shared a humble life together, often times passing the days watching NASCAR, college and professional ball, cruising around the “horn” or when the tide was low enough a drive across to Portage Island.
Many of Alice’s siblings, nieces and nephews recall many times when they went to visit her, how they were sure to be asked to help with something. She’d ask to fix her bed, fold some laundry, wash dishes, vacuum, sweep or perhaps take the garbage out. And how she would be telling them loudly from her chair they were doing which ever chore she asked of them entirely wrong. She was great a supervising. Visits with her certainly will be missed, and now are cherished memories.
Alice loved her brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews in her own special way. In her final years she often shared how much she loved them each, and how she missed her late sisters Lenore, Joi and Paula. She shared how she thought it was something really special to have so many siblings, and have her brothers and sisters be all in close ages of one another. Her being 1 of 12 children, she always shared she wished she could have had more children herself but that she was thankful to have had her two children when she did before she endured the brain aneurysm. She was even more thankful when she became a Grandmother. Like any other Grandma she adored her grandchildren, often times buying them little sweet knickknacks of random sorts to gift them at the next opportunity.
Alice is remembered most by her astounding strength and resilience. Her laugh, her jokes, her smile but mostly her heart. Many are privileged to know and love Alice. She taught many people to appreciate life and not to take ourselves, each other, our health and our well-being for granted. Alice’s impact on the lives of her family shall remain; her teachings, heritage and traditions will carry forward in her children and grandchildren.
She is survived by her children Charene and Michael (Michelle) Alexander; grandchildren Kainin & Viviana Revey, Darrian James, Bianca, Katrina and Jace Alexander; sisters Valgina Kinley, Isabelle Jefferson, Kelli Jefferson-Tom, Miranda Jefferson, and Carmen Burke; brothers Jeffrey Jefferson, Michael and James Plaster, and Royrey Jefferson; and numerous nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her companion Brian Sebastian; parents Lillian Solomon-Kinley and Douglas Jefferson Sr.; grandparents Dora and Felix Solomon and Isabelle and David Jefferson; brother Douglas Jefferson Jr.; sisters Lenore, Joi and Paula Jefferson; nephews Daniel and Jeremy Jefferson; and grandnephew Gabriel George. Her final place of rest will be at Lummi Nation Cemetery.