Jennifer Ballew left this world February 4, 2023. Jen was such a special person, having spent her whole life with disabilities. She was born on Cinco de Mayo — May 5, 1972 — to Carl and Wanda Ballew. She grew up in Eureka and attended Freshwater School, Sunset School-Arcata, Zane Jr High and Eureka High in Special Ed. Jen was found to have serious medical issues when she was 1 ½ years old and throughout her whole life was involved in the medical community as a patient. When Jen was first diagnosed with her condition as a baby, the doctors had no expectation for her to live past 7 or 8 years of age. Medical equipment was evolving and improving; and the doctors had no idea of Jen’s stubbornness. She got about 43 bonus years.

Jennifer was passionate about her friends and always wanted to help or protect anyone who was teased, bothered or had a problem. Many of her friends called her with whatever their problem might be and she would do everything in her power to help them. She would often commit to help them with problems she was not capable of solving, but she would call and find someone to take care of it. Jen “never met a stranger.” At appointments or anywhere in public she would start a conversation with anyone sitting nearby. She would say she liked something such as their hair or a purse or shirt and then ask their name and carry on the conversation from there. She had many friends.

She was artistic and involved in various art programs sponsored by the Northcoast Regional Center, creating sculptures, paintings and other crafts. She also loved latch hook and needle work.

Jen was preceded in death by her beloved grandparents, Joe and Audry Ballew of Eureka, Grama Red-Jean Mills of Blue Lake, her father Carl Ballew and her uncle Clint Hunter, who she loved very much. She is survived by her partner in life for over 30 years, Kevin Birindelli and his mother Gina, mother Wanda Wahlund, step dad Gary Wahlund, stepmother Merrilee Ballew, brother Jason Ballew, aunt Susan Hunter (who was always so kind and supportive to Jen) and many, many cousins. Jennifer will be missed much by all.

A celebration of Jen’s life will be held at Freshwater Grange on February 25 at 1 p.m.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Jen Ballew’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email