Life was an adventure for the 'lady in a hat'

Deepa Bharath

Jean Kuhn was always the "lady in a hat."

She owned more than 30 hats that she wore with style. Most of them

were dressy, with bows or lace.

It probably all started in her home state of Pennsylvania. Jean

was born in a small town called Westgrove to a registered nurse and

the only dentist in Lancaster County at the time.

Jean's mother was one of the old-time grand dames who loved to

wear hats.

The greatest love of her life was music. Jean was a natural. She

started playing the piano when she was 5, she played the organ in her

Costa Mesa church, and she conducted the church choir until her


She met her husband, William Kuhn, when she was performing in a

play in North Carolina. He was there visiting Jean's friend. A year

later, they got married in her hometown. They remained together for

63 years.

Jean was a talented woman who was brimming with creativity. The

one place her talents failed her was in the kitchen.

Family members were always delighted by Jean's story about how she

set two cakes on fire when she and her husband were a newly married


They lived in an apartment on the second floor and it was hard to

imagine neighbors' reactions when they saw two flaming cakes hurtling

down from a kitchen window.

Jean was in some ways like Lucille Ball. She managed to get

herself into bizarre calamities, but she always made light of it.

Jean and her husband moved to Mesa del Mar 35 years ago. To her,

Costa Mesa was paradise. The weather was great. She enjoyed golfing

year-round at Mile Square Park and at the Costa Mesa Country Club.

Her musical talents found an outlet in church. Jean would lose

track of time when she sat down to play the piano. Her repertoire was

enormous. She could play patriotic songs or spiritual hymns for


She was also quite a poet. In her later years, when her eyesight

deteriorated and she couldn't enjoy golf, Jean took to writing

poetry. Her poems mostly had religious themes.

She wrote a few poems about Christmas, creation and even one about

her mother. She didn't care to rhyme her lines, but rather, wrote

free verse.

Some of Jean's hats were displayed at her memorial service on

Tuesday. Her family gave out some of those hats to Jean's friends as

a way to remember that dear "lady in a hat."

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