Jonna was one of the first residents at the Union Hotel, subsidized apartments managed by the Downtown Emergency Service Center, moving in from the homeless shelter Noel House in July 1994. There are forty other residents at the Union, including Wes and I. Her death has stricken everyone. She was a warm, sweet person, and no one expected this.
The most stricken of us here is Carl. He and Jonna were sweethearts since he moved into the Union two years ago. They were planning to be married next Valentine's Day.
I met Jonna at StreetLife Gallery in 1995. She had been there since 1994, discovering the Gallery while she stayed at Noel House. Jonna was one of the featured artists in the StreetLife Gallery book (out of print.)
There is an old word that I wish was still current: "fey." It describes something, or someone, that is a little wild and strange and not-quite-of-this-world. That was how I saw Jonna. I didn't think of her by the same rules of reality that I thought of other people. I could believe that she was writing a book with Jimi Hendrix. I just wish I could have read it.
Last year (2001) Jonna got a computer, and I got to help her figure out how to use AOL. She insisted on paying me for the lessons. We were both on a very limited income: at that time I was still on state disability, and Jonna was on Social Security.
That was like Jonna, generous at all times.
Claudia Boles, who was also at StreetLife Gallery, and now lives at the Union, since June 1994, says: "Over the years, we became like sisters. I was so broken up, I had to leave the memorial service. She always wanted me to teach her to draw bamboo, but we never got to it. She loved all kinds of art. She read tons of art books. She liked Deep Purple and the heavy metal bands, heavier than I had. She'd get mad at me because I didn't have any of the music she liked."
Claudia, Carl and Jonna were all on a trip to Snoqualmie Falls shortly before Jonna's death. This picture of Jonna captures her joy, for us to remember her by.
— memorial by Anitra Freeman, December 12, 2002