Jean Lorraine Frese

Jean Lorraine Frese

LENOIR — Retired Salvation Army Major Jean Lorraine Frese, 95, was promoted to glory Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, at Gateway Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Lenoir.

She was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on July 6, 1926, to Mary Jean Frese. She spent the first five years of her life in an institution for young children until her aunt, Etha Fish and her husband Elmer opened their hearts and home and raised her alongside their children.

After she graduated high school, she was trained as a milliner and worked in the fashion industry in Pittsburgh. Known as Lorraine to her family, and Major Jean to everyone else, she entered the Salvation Army when she felt called to Major Cecil Brown’s Mountain Mission in the Maple Springs area of Western North Carolina.

She served the Lord at several Salvation Army Corps in Haywood and Madison counties, often traveling by horseback or on a World War II surplus jeep.

The Army transferred her to Toccoa, Georgia, where she completed courses at the Salvation Army Headquarters in Atlanta and received her commission. She returned to the Mountain Mission for a few years and then was transferred to Winston-Salem, where she worked tirelessly with the help of her friend Sibyl Wilburn.

She returned again to Haywood County where she served the Lord until she retired in 1991 to live in her own home at Shelton Laurel Mountain Mission in Fine’s Creek.

Because of her dedication to the Lord and her service to the people of Western North Carolina, she received the distinguished General William Booth Founder’s Award at the 2021 annual Singing on the Mountain in Waynesville.

In addition to her mother; her aunt and uncle; and all her cousins, she was preceded in death by her sister, Ruth Armstrong; and her dear friend, Sibyl Wilburn.

She is survived by family members she prayed for daily; her nephews, Fred Armstrong and Scott Armstrong and wife Judy and daughter Elizabeth; and the next generation of her cousins, Janice Sprowls, Gretchen Griffith, Judy Fish, and Joanne Trisoliere.

She also uplifted in her daily talk with the Lord her many friends from the Salvation Army and its mountain mission. She was especially prayerful and grateful for her bonus family; Dr. Karen Hartman, Major Susie Graf, Carol Ledford Jacqueline Muth and Rachel Pasley who, as promised, has taken in her dog, Precious Noodles.

Special appreciation goes to her care team, Dr. Laurie Lemauviel, Van and Gretchen Griffith, Angie Holman, Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, and Gateway Rehabilitation and Healthcare.

A service to celebrate the life of Major Jean will be announced at a later date. Online condolences may be left at

Greer-McElveen Funeral Home and Crematory is assisting the Frese family.

To plant a tree in memory of Jean Frese as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.
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