Nan Jean Roller

Nan Jean Roller

1927 - 2018

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Nan Jean

Obituary of Nan Jean Roller

Nan Jean Roller, of Portland, Oregon, passed away August 12, 2018 of natural causes at Terwilliger Plaza in Portland.  Nan Jean was born November 14, 1927 in Greenville, Wisconsin to Dr. James R. and Sara Elva Thomas.

Nan Jean was raised in Neillsville, Wisconsin where her father had a dental practice.  While Dr. Thomas was stationed in Greenland during WWII, the family lived in New Jersey where Nan Jean graduated from High School in 1944.  After graduation, her family moved to Oakridge, Tennessee where her father was stationed.  That summer she worked on the base getting supplies for the Dental office, not knowing the Army’s true mission there.  Following that summer, she enrolled at Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tennessee.  During freshman week, she meet Samuel Roller, the love of her life.  After her junior year of college her father moved to Portland, Oregon to work at the VA.  Nan Jean came west and finished her education in Oregon College of Education (which is now known as Western Oregon University) earning her teaching degree.  Sam quickly followed her west and they were married on December 26, 1949.  Nan Jean taught for the Portland Public School District until she and Sam moved to Pendleton, where she continued to teach until they started a family.  All three of their daughters were born in Pendleton where Sam and Nan Jean lived for ten years.  They moved to Corvallis in 1962 and lived there until 2006 when they moved to Portland to be closer to their daughter.  In 2013 Sam and Nan Jean set up an Endowment Scholarship Fund at Tusculum College.  Sam and Nan Jean were members of First Presbyterian Church of Portland, OR.  They were married 66 years.

Nan Jean was an active Garden Club Member for almost 60 years starting in 1959.  She served as the State President from 1989 – 1991.  She was involved beyond her local club, including Chairman for The Blue Star Memorial Program, 2001 – 2003, dedicating and rededicating 24 markers around the state.  The dedication of these markers show our love for this beautiful United States of America and our appreciation for the members of the Armed Services of America.  The total of Blue Star Markers in Oregon has grown to well over 50. One of the most memorable for her was the dedication of a Blue Star Maker at Willamette National Cemetery in 1995.  She chaired Oregon’s Roadside Counsel from 2009 to 2017, turning Oregon’s roads and highways into a beautiful, lasting dedication.  Nan Jean loved flowers and was a Horticulture and Flower Show Judge as well as a Master Gardener and served on the Oregon Horticultural Board representing Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs. In 2016 Nan Jean received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the OSFGC.

Nan Jean had many opportunities to travel throughout the United States through OSFGC and her travels nationally with their many friends through Sam’s work with McKesson.  One of her favorite memories was their trip to Paris, where they danced at the Eiffel Tower. Sam and Nan Jean visited England, Scotland, Germany, Austria, France; Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico.  They enjoyed several trips to Hawaii including a family trip to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Nan Jean is survived by her brother George Thomas, sister-in-law Alice Thomas, daughters, Meghan Schwanke, Tamara Reinemann (husband Jeffrey), Allyson Lemon (husband David), 8 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.  She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Samuel Roller, brother James Thomas, sister-in-law Judy Thomas, and son-in-law Jeff Schwanke.

The family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the staff at Terwilliger Plaza Terrace, Housecall Providers Hospice, and Dr. Pamela Miner.

A memorial service honoring Nan Jean’s life will be held at 2:00 PM September 15 at Terwilliger Plaza in Portland.  Nan Jean will be buried at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland beside her husband Sam.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to:

  • the Samuel P. and Nan Jean Roller Endowed Scholarship Fund at Tusculum College, P.O. Box 5040 Greeneville, TN, 37743,
  • Housecall Providers at 5100 SW Macadam Ave #200, Portland, OR 97239, or
  • a charity of your choice.



Memorial Service

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Saturday, September 15, 2018
Terwilliger Plaza
2425 SW 6th Ave
Portland, Oregon, United States