Jean M. Chesney
May 10, 1922 – November 23, 2019
Our Jean was a loving wife, mother and grandma. She was also creative, taking art classes and creating beautiful paintings her family loved. She loved music too, singing with records on her stereo or the radio, and entranced by deBussy’s Clare de Lune, and Fascination, always requesting they be played by any pianist at brunch or dinner spots. She loved going to the Art Institute, and to see musicals like South Pacific. She adored movies since her childhood; her favorites were anything with Barbara Stanwyck, and The Red Shoes and The Shop Around The Corner which she kept watching on tv. She loved the movie The Christmas Story which reminded her of growing up and going to school in a similar school room. Jean loved Betty Boop cartoons with a passion and did a great Betty Boop imitation too. She going to plays with her husband Andrew and friends at Drury Lane in Chicago. Hummingbirds were another favorite thing, and she would watch them visit her feeder. She had a terrific sense of humor and said laughing and smiling kept her looking and feeling young - as did sipping from the Fountain of Youth once on a trip to Florida. She grew up in East Chicago with her mother, sister and two brothers and after her father’s early death, her beloved stepfather. She often said she was an active playful tomboy child who was always running races, playing jacks, roller skatIng and swimming at the beach. When she grew up, she golfed a little and bowled so well with ladies morning league, she won several Christmas turkeys. She took typing and business classes in high school and worked as an office manager and secretary in jobs with that took her on a fondly remembered business trip to New York City. Always independent and interested in the world around her, she loved life and later encouraged her children to travel and pursue their dreams. During the war years, she wrote to brothers who were soldiers, and went dancing with friends at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. Marrying her husband Andrew after the war, they honeymooned in New Orleans and Miami Beach, then settled in Bloomington on the Indiana University campus where her husband went to school. She loved their modern campus home, her Audiovisual job, and seeing movies with Andy at the Von Lee. She enjoyed her campus visits again later when her daughter attended college there.
Moving to Hammond then Highland, while Andy worked at Inland Steel then in Chicago, she took care of her aging mother and her young family. She always looked fashionable like tv’s Laura Petrie, had big family dinners, pinochle playing and lawn croquet parties and holidays for years while raising her son Mark, who went to work for NASA, and her daughter who she encouraged to become a writer and for whom she always had lots of support and motherly advice. She also loved her daughter’s little cartoons and asked for one every week. Loyal to her church, she was a deeply religious woman who lived a simple but meaningful life and prayed every night for her children and grandchild to be strong, healthy, outspoken and most of all, happy. She cared for her husband for years following his stroke and battle with Parkinson’s. Fiercely independent, she then lived on her own as a widow in the family home, with her beloved cat Indy, and family loved to visit. She had fun going to Chicago and bookstores and movies and shows with Andrea and teaching her some favorite family Polish recipes. She enjoyed reading, watching the Bears, the Cubs, and movies, and avidly the news and politics. She couldn't get enough of her beloved Golden Girls on tv. She loved going to Chicago on the train, and out to dinner with her sister and other family members, and keeping in touch with old friends; she loved her visits and phone chats with nieces and nephews Tom and and Patty, Doug and David, Judy and MaryAnn, Jen and Dave, and friend Julie. She was always mentally sharp to the end, with a great memory for facts or news details. She loved debating an election, even at age 97, with her son-in-law Patrick, a lawyer. She got to see the Cubs win the World Series and was thrilled as her son can attest. Her son Mark was always there to care for her and take her to appointments and watch over her, and they had many a great conversation about sports and science. She loved her daughter-in-law Rhonda as a daughter, visiting her home on holidays and enjoying the meals Rhonda kindly prepared for her, and Jean had such joy the company of Harlene, Rhonda’s mother. Jean was perhaps proudest to become a grandma, reveling in granddaughter Blythe’s ice skating shows and exhibitions, school events and Easter egg hunts. Blythe was the light of her life and the two shared a laughing nature and a sassy sense of fun, as well as a love of Chinese food, cats, and creativity. She was endlessly proud of Blythe’s many accomplishments and loved wearing jewelry Blythe made, and beamed whenever Blythe was around. She often said, I am alive to see Blythe grow up, graduate, and get settled in Chicago! And she even got to meet and fall for Blythe’s dog Pemi and more recently, her kitten Stark just a week ago in a fun evening in Jean’s home. Known to some of her wonderful hospital caregivers as the “Betty White of Highland” Jean was the heart and soul of a loving family who hoped she might make it to 100+. We are grateful for having shared our lives with our mother, grandma and aunt, and thank her for hundreds of wonderful memories, with all our love and respect. She was our real life Golden Girl. We love you forever and we will miss you always. As the song in her jewelry box, a gift from her husband, went: Some enchanted evening, across a crowded room, we hope to see you again. We know the angels are smiling with you today.
- Visitation Wednesday, November 27, 2019
- Funeral Service Wednesday, November 27, 2019