Floral 27

Fawn Powers

July 24, 1935 ~ September 5, 2020 (age 85)



Dolores Fawn Powers was born on July 24, 1935, the first child of Frank and Lillian Freeland, then residing in Thermal, California.  Her first years were lived in the Coachella Valley of Southern California, where her aunt and uncle owned a date farm that was the locus of family gatherings. At that time, her mother’s two sisters, Ruth, and Fawn’s most beloved of all, Sybil, both lived in the area with their respective husbands.  Among Fawn’s early roles was babysitting her younger brother Rodney, born four years later.

Immediately after World War II, Frank Freeland purchased, and for two years his family operated the Rock Creek pack station near Bishop, California, which was purchased and is operated to this day by the Wilson family.  Here, Fawn developed a life-long appreciation for the beauty of nature, as a result of exploring the Owens Valley backcountry area of California.

Fawn was a bright student and grew to be a remarkably attractive woman.  During her formative years, her parents believed she might have the looks and talent to be the next Shirley Temple, so she was groomed in the performing arts, studying tap dancing and ballet, piano and violin.

As a result of her father's work for Bell Telephone, the Freeland family moved often, and lived in far-flung corners of the American empire, such as in Hawaii, where Fawn attended Punahou High School in Honolulu, and in Guam, where the family lived for a period of time during her early college years.

During her adolescent years, her parents arranged to have her live with Ray and Thelma Schisler--who in turn sent their son to live with her parents and brother Rodney. The family-to-family exchange lasted about one year.

Fawn majored in ballet at the University of Utah starting in 1953. She was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority and was crowned the Star of Kappa Sigma, the fraternity of her soon-to-be husband, Robert Jensen, of Salt Lake City, Utah.  Fawn and Robert were married in Riverside, California, in 1957, before she finished college. They settled in San Francisco, where she worked for Bell Telephone and he worked as a stockbroker.  By 1959 they had moved to Oakland, where their first son, Lawrence Robert Jensen, was born.  In 1961 the family moved to Strawberry Park, near Cupertino, California, and they were blessed with a second son, Frank Ronald Jensen. By this time, Fawn had given up working to raise her two sons.

While Fawn had training in and a life-long appreciation for classical music, Fawn and Robert were both aficionados of jazz.  (And later, she added a love of rock and Motown music, having warmed quickly to the Beatles.) Their social circle included Pi Phi sister Margaret Davis, who would prove to be a life-long friend, and Robert’s business associates. By the time they were living in Strawberry Park, Robert was the corporate controller of a major agricultural irrigation component manufacturer. 

Fawn had cultivated a love of cooking and entertaining, so backyard barbeques, cocktail parties and dance parties often occurred at their home on Applewood Drive. Her cooking was comprised not only of standard American fare, but was also influenced strongly by more “exotic” techniques learned from her exposure to Mexican food during her childhood in Southern California, and her exposure to Japanese, Chinese and Hawaiian cuisines as a result of her teenage years spent living in the South Pacific.  Hosting dinner parties for friends and family, where she often cooked for one- or two-dozen people, became a life-long part of Fawn’s adult life.

In 1966, Fawn reentered college, majoring in psychology.  She became a divorced mother of two, requiring her to adopt a frugal lifestyle, all the while attending college courses. Fawn obtained her Bachelor’s degree at San Jose State in 1968 and her Master’s Degree in Psychology in 1970. She began practicing in her professional field, first as a licensed clinical social worker, then as a therapist. Demonstrating ambition and perseverance, she subsequently embarked on a Ph.D. program at Pacific Graduate School, and was awarded her Doctorate in Psychology in 1979.  She found deep and lasting satisfaction from her work, which primarily involved counseling couples and family units mired in mental health issues or interpersonal conflict.  She also was involved in groundbreaking research in sex therapy at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital through an affiliation with Stanford University.  She retired from practice in 2016.

In 1969, Fawn married Harry Powers, an artist, sculptor and professor in the Art Department at San Jose State.  Harry helped add a new dimension to Fawn’s love affair with culture--contemporary visual art. 

Fawn was also politically engaged during her lifetime. She participated in peace marches and similar political events in the 1960's and '70's. By the 80's, she self-identified as a feminist.

When Fawn cared about something, Fawn was a force to be reckoned with. She ended up dedicating much of her free time in her middle years to advancing the arts, serving for many years on the board of directors, including a stint as President, of the non-profit art gallery now known as the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.  She remained a generous patron of this gallery until very late in her life, and also of Works Gallery in San Jose, the San Jose Museum of Art and other arts organizations.  Over the years, many of her friendships were cultivated with fellow members of the San Jose arts community, including local artist Katherine Levin Lau and her husband Ed, Alvin Thompson and his wife Debbie, Karen and Mark Tucker, Mimi Chen Ting, and the late Jeanne Aurel Schneider and her husband Don.  Over time she accrued a significant collection of works by local visual artists, including Erin Goodwin Guerrero, Al Preciado, Sam Richardson, Glen Rogers and Terry Kreiter.

By 1973, Fawn and Harry owned a home in Saratoga, where her sons attended and graduated from Saratoga High. Lawrence went on to become an attorney and Frank has spent years working in technology, both in the Bay Area.  Frank and his wife, Maritza, gave Fawn her very beloved grandson, Rael Lawrence Jensen, a recent graduate of Bellermine College Preparatory (with Fawn a proud benefactor) and currently attending Boise State University in Idaho.

Fawn believed in education and was generous with her two sons, even after her divorce from Harry left her once again living a relatively frugal lifestyle.  She found ways to help them with educational expenses and other major events in life, like purchases of first homes.

On Super Bowl Sunday of 1986, she married Roger Poyner of Monterey. They purchased a home on College Avenue in Los Gatos, where they lived until 2015. They then moved to The Meadows of Los Gatos and, when it was closed, to Atria in Foster City.

Life with Roger took on new dimensions; they traveled frequently throughout the Americas, Europe, South Asia and the South Pacific.  They dined out often and had subscriptions to the San Francisco Symphony and Ballet, and time-shares at Heavenly Valley and the Highlands Inn in Carmel, where they celebrated their anniversary every year.  They enjoyed their pied-a-tier at Opera Plaza in San Francisco, which they used frequently for accessing symphony, ballet, gallery hopping and fine-dining experiences, and which they also shared generously with visiting family and friends.  Fawn and Roger hosted multiple memorable trips with family.  Fawn loved to dance, and did so until the last few years of her life.  Her marriage to Roger endured until her death at home of sepsis on September 5, 2020. 

Fawn is survived by her husband, Roger Poyner; brother, Rodney Freeland and his wife Ann, of Berkeley, California; son Lawrence and wife Patricia Howell, of Oakland, California; and son Frank and wife Maritza Montalvo (with grandson Rael Jensen), of Campbell, California.  She is also survived as stepmother to Roger’s children, John Poyner and his wife Monica (with children Bonnie and Jeannie), Jessica Poyner and husband James Johnson (with children Asher and Andrew Collier, and Kat Johnson) and Jason Poyner.

A memorial service is expected at some time in the future, when pandemic restrictions have lifted.

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