Hundreds of family members, friends, colleagues and acquaintances gathered in the St. Helens High School auditorium for a memorial service to honor Jennifer Warren on June 3.
Warren, who worked at Columbia Community Mental health as a mental health worker, was fatally stabbed two weeks earlier while delivering medications to a patient. That patient, later identified as Brent Redd Jr., in now being held on murder charges at Oregon State Hospital. Warren was just three days shy of her 40th birthday.
Rather than remembering the tragic way her life ended, the memorial service focused instead on the positive way Warren lived. Family members often described her as the kind of person who would tell you the truth, no matter how much that truth might hurt, but always in a loving and caring way.
Sister Shirley Warren II said it was important to Jennifer Warren to share her positive approach to life with others in her hometown and never traveled too far away.
“My sister did many selfless acts for me through the years,” said Shirley Warren II. “She taught me that honesty might sound brutal and that it does not have an expiration date.”
She said her sister had also made great strides in life and that she stood her ground when it came to those things she believed in. “She had achieved a certain generosity about her that I am so grateful for and proud of,” she said.
Younger brother Kenny Warren Jr. recalled his older sister’s never ending support.
“Jennifer was a good big sister. She was always there for me when I needed help,” he said. “And she would always give me her honest opinion. Even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.”
Joining family members in paying tribute were Warren’s coworkers from CCMH. While they may have been colleagues, many of her coworkers also considered Warren a treasured friend.
Julie Knapp had known Warren since her coming to work at CCMH nearly a decade earlier. In preparation for the service, Knapp spent time during the week prior talking with others to hear their thoughts and remembrances.
“I found that there was a theme when talking about Jennifer. Her smile was on top of the list and how it became contagious. It made me wonder if Jennifer thought, ‘If I smile, others will too,’ as that seemed to be the result,” Knapp said.
She went on to add that along with her reliability, Warren was most remembered for her generous nature, citing a time when Warren donated unused vacation to another employee and how she would often rescue stray cats and find them homes,
“Her follow through and responsiveness to others and how she gave praise or let you know when she was upset with you were all qualities of Jennifer’s that her co-workers remembered” said Knapp. “She was able to draw people in and make you a friend. She was never just a co-worker.”
Following the memorial service, family and close friends gathered for a private reception.