MISSOULA – Jennifer Lynn Wallner loved family and friends, dogs, horses, laughter, and a good road trip. She embarked peacefully on one last journey on Friday, July 24, 2015. surrounded by people she loved. She was 44.

A beautiful and truly remarkable woman of whimsical wit, Jennifer drew people and animals into her life with laughter and kindness. She was a talented artist who prized crisp lines and appreciated the finer things in life. A fearless tomboy at heart, she was always the family comedian. Her “sissy” Lisa fondly remembers the many hours they would spend making up silly drawing games. She grew up in Alaska, Oregon and Washington before settling in Seattle to attend Cornish College of the Arts.

Jen’s career as a graphic artist began in 1997 as an artist and art director with the consulting firm R.W. Beck in Seattle. In 2005, she moved to Missoula, where she worked as lead graphic designer for SimBio, a small educational software company. She called herself SimBio’s “color monkey” and joked that she drew fish, ferrets and bunnies to teach the world’s youth about biology. Her creative work will continue to engage biology students all over the world, long into the future.

Jen balanced a life of solitude and social richness. She enjoyed solo trips to many of Montana’s remote fire lookouts, taking in the views and hiking with her beloved dogs Owen and Kitty. She could also summon her friends on short notice for sumptuous feasts of spicy foods, fine wines and nights filled with laughter on the patio. She loved her friends as family.

In a celebration of independence on July 4, 2013, just seven months after she had open-heart surgery and a lobe of lung removed, Jen hiked to the top of Trapper Peak, the highest in the Bitterroot Range, with her partner, Mark Rothman. This was just one of many of their shared adventures. A durable and compassionate presence, Mark accompanied Jen to new heights and healing destinations.

Jennifer died of complications due to a rare cancer (intimal sarcoma) in Seattle, surrounded by loved ones. She is survived by her mother, Jennifer Bodwin of Rhinelander, Wisconsin; father Chuck Wallner of Bremerton, Washington; sisters, Lisa Martinez of Seattle, Terry Bodwin of Costa Mesa, California, Jean McGrury and Sandy Bodwin of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and Robin Bodwin of Raleigh, North Carolina; brother Joe Bodwin of Los Angeles; grandmother Lorraine Curson of Bend, Oregon; her partner Mark Rothman of Missoula, and many caring friends. 

A celebration of life will be held at the pavilion in Greenough Park in Missoula on Saturday, Aug. 15, from 2 to 5 pm. To honor Jen’s memory, donations to the Humane Society of Western Montana or the American Cancer Society would be appreciated.

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