Josephine Naomi O'Rourk Sewright

Mom left us on January 24, 2012, at Mt. Baker Care Center in Bellingham, Washington, at age 93 years, 4 months, and 7 days. She was born Sarah Naomi O’Rourk in Gordon on September 17, 1918, and was named after her grandmother, Sarah, and her mother, Naomi (Yockey). But the 1918 flu epidemic claimed her father, Thomas Joseph “Joe” O’Rourk, just five weeks after she was born, and so her mother renamed her Josephine to honor him.

In 1886, her O’Rourk grandparents were married in Wisconsin and came out to Nebraska, settling in the northwestern panhandle near Gordon. After the death of her father and remarriage of her mother, Josephine stayed in the family home and was raised by her Ashcraft grandmother. She attended Gordon public schools, Nebraska Wesleyan at Lincoln, Nebraska and St. Joseph School of Nursing at Alliance, Nebraska before her marriage to Andrew Warren Sewright, Jr., on August 6, 1938.

The couple had four children: Denny, Carol, Terry and Linda.

The Sewrights were entrepreneurs in several businesses, such as hardware stores, row-crop farming and a fishing resort, which took them to several locations throughout the West: St. Anthony and Nampa, Idaho; Ontario, Oregon; and Neah Bay and Port Angeles, Washington. In 1965, Andy obtained a full-time job with U.S. Customs and moved the family to Blaine, Washington.

Andy died suddenly of a heart condition on October 24, 1970, and Josephine was left with three children in college and one in high school. With encouragement from friends and relatives, she obtained a full-time position as a clerk with U.S. Customs in 1972. Her superior performance resulted in numerous awards, and when she retired after 25 years at age 79, she had attained the rank of supervisor in her department.

Besides her work life, she was very active in civic affairs, and the life of her church. She was a member of PEO, the Republican Women’s Club, Music Study Club, and participated in meetings and classes of NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill). At church, she was on the board of the United Church of Christ, was Sunday school superintendent, taught classes, and sang in the choir.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Andy, and her sons Denny (Sept. 7, 1996) and Terry (Sept. 28, 1993). Survivors include her daughter Linda Sewright and Linda’s husband David Johnson of Bainbridge Island, and daughter Carol Sewright of Bellingham; one sister, Lee Zink of Stockton, Calif.; and numerous nieces, nephews and extended family.

A memorial service is scheduled at Blaine United Church of Christ at 885 4th St. on Sunday, February 12, at 2 p.m. with reception following. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Whatcom Counseling & Psychiatric Clinic (Bellingham); the Makah Cultural and Research Museum (Neah Bay); or the Shanti Project for living with chronic or life-threatening illness (San Francisco).

For a full obituary and donation details, please visit

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