Brooklyn, NY-raised JoGene Kapell was a life-long seeker, both spiritually and on the ground, with the guidance of others and through her own inner drive. An avid practitioner of Aikido, Jo developed a strong rootedness with the earth. She pursued gospel singing. She and her husband, Jason Kanter, traveled to China in 1992 to meet and welcome their daughter into their lives. Jo’s talents brought the family to the Seattle area in 1993, where she began a successful career at Microsoft as an interactive graphics engineer and Creative Director. In Seattle, she discovered a halau, or hula school, and became very active, annually performing with the group at the Northwest Folklife Festival.
JoGene and her family soon discovered Orcas Island and began to visit regularly, patronizing various inns and resorts. Finally, Jo and Jason built their own island retreat. Before they laid the foundation for the house on their newly-acquired property perched on a high bluff overlooking Eastsound, however, they needed to properly prepare it. Jo invited the members of her halau to travel to Orcas, where they camped on and blessed the land in traditional Hawaiian chanting and dancing. During this ceremony, an auspicious moment was marked by two bald eagles soaring directly overhead, acknowledging this special place.
Jo loved hiking around Mountain Lake with her Labradoodle, Louie. JoGene, Jason, and their daughter were fortunate to share many summer weeks at their beloved Orcas home before JoGene’s passing in 2011. Her family still feels her soaring spirit here.
The San Juan Preservation Trust is grateful to JoGene for a generous bequest she provided to support efforts to protect special places on Orcas Island and throughout the San Juans.
We are also grateful to Jason Kanter for sharing stories of JoGene’s passions, accomplishments and spirit.