After she left school at 14 she became a nurse. Later Jean worked as a telephonist in Pingelly and Guildford, where she met her future husband. Shortly after her marriage to Howard Hastwell in 1937, the couple moved to Busselton. Howard had taken over the running of the South Western News newspaper from his uncle, Joseph Mann, who was the Member of Parliament for the district at that time. Jean became involved in the business, running a small stationery shop which she gradually built up into a thriving newsagency and bookshop.
During this time she raised three children, Robin, Neil and Kim. Howard died of cancer in 1964. South West Printing and Publishing Company bought the newspaper. Jean carried on the newsagency for some time until her son Neil took over the business.
Having always been involved in community activities, she widened her involvement on retirement and held various positions in and memberships of a large number of organisations including: warden of St Mary’s Anglican Church, the Busselton Horticultural Society, the Southern Districts Agricultural Society, the Business and Professional Women’s Association, the Villa Maria fundraising committee, the Wonnerup House committee, the Busselton Choral Society, the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Busselton Arts Council.
She also had many interests; German classes, bridge and mah-jong. In 1991 she was awarded as Busselton Pioneer Woman of the Year.