A family friend passed away this weekend while I was on my honeymoon. Her name was Jeanne. She was the most knowledgable person I have ever met. That is saying something considering that in the group we were a part of just about everyone had a PHd. She knew something about everything.
She got her Ed.D in 1974. She taught Elementary and Middle school. She was, if I understand correctly, the highest unelected offical in the state school system for a while. And she was a character, just like her husband, Dick.
In fact, I inadvertantly got the biology rules for high schools change throughout the state by talking to her. We were out camping and I was in high school. I was a little bent because the biology grading was a bit wacked. People had a hard time passing so they set it up where, if you turned in all the paper work completely filled out, you’d get a C. You could flunk every test but you’d pass. If, however, you were like me and sucked at keeping things organized, well, you were screwed. I got B’s on all the tests but barely passed because my paper work sucked (though I didn’t know it at the time, this was a great lesson on the working world, but I digress). I told my story about barely getting by and Jeanne said something like ‘Oh, really?’. And then she went out and ensured that the ‘turn in a completed notebook and you pass’ system was replaced with a ‘You actually have to learn something to pass’ system. Jeanne loved learning and never stopped. And she wanted the kids to learn as well.
We would be out at the lake and invariably someone would pull out Trivial Pursuit. And invariably everyone vied to be on Jeanne’s team. Because she always won. The only area she didn’t get all the answers for was science and that was because there were about 10 PhDs in physics and math sitting around the camp. Jeanne knew it all but was kind about it.
She always had a smile and laughter was her default state. She, along with her husband were avid travelers. Jeanne had been to 61 (yes, sixty one!) countries. Her and her daughter went on a zodiak boat trip, just the two of them, down the Baja California peninsula about two years ago. She was 78 at the time. She loved adventures.
Jeanne put up with her husband (I don’t mean that in a bad way) which most of us thought was something of a miracle. Her husband, Dick, was a charcater but could be a little unpredictable. And it was obvious everytime you saw them together that they were deeply and madly in love.
When I got married to my wonderful wife, Jeanne came out. I was so happy that they got to meet as a very large portion of my childhood stories involved Jeanne and Dick. I was touched to tears when I saw that the picture they put in the obituary was from our wedding. Jeanne has her head back and is laughing. The full picture is on my wall. In it Jeanne and my wife are laughing together.
Damned. Now I am crying.
Jeanne, and Dick, were such a large part of my childhood that losing her is beyond depressing. One of the best days of my life were with Jeanne and Dick. We were out at Lake Powell. I must have been about 13 or so. We had a house boat. Jeanne, Dick and I went to get some gas in Jerry cans from a marina. On the way back we went up the Escalante river. We spent the whole day skiing, swimming and driving around. There were no other boats. The weather was awesome. And it was perfect because I was with Jeanne and Dick.
What hurts the most, I think, is that no matter how many words I put down I won’t be able to capture what an amazing person she was.
Godspeed Jeanne. I hope you and Dick are off on a new adventure together as it is what you both deserve.