Jessie Elizabeth Wilcoxon
Jessie was born in Seattle, Washington, the only child of Henry Wright and Ida McClintock. Henry served in WWI and died in the 1918 flu epidemic and Ida raised Jessie as a single working mother. Jessie attended Holy Names Academy and from an early age was active in sports activities. She enjoyed tumbling and roller skating and was a daredevil who enjoyed hanging onto trolleys for a "free ride" until she was admonished about the safety issues of such behavior. She enjoyed climbing tall trees and playing baseball. She had a sweet tooth, sometimes forgoing lunch to buy candy and this love of sweets lasted throughout her life. She attended and graduated from Garfield High School where she enjoyed classes such as Latin and Geometry while excelling in many sports activities such as tumbling, baseball, and table tennis. She particularly enjoyed tennis and later became a top player in the city and continued playing into her late 70s.
Following graduation Jessie attended secretarial school and got a clerical position at Boeing during the 40s and 50s where she formed friendships with other young women that lasted into her mature adult years. Jessie loved travel and outdoor activities such as hiking, skating, swimming and tennis throughout her life and passed many of these skills and interests onto her son. Her other interests included musicals, plays, opera and classical music and she enjoyed attending the Seattle Opera and Symphony even to 100 years in age. She learned to play the organ and enjoyed reading classical and contemporary literature.
In the early 1950s Jessie bought her first house on Queen Anne Hill where she was to reside until her death. In 1954 she married Erving Wilcoxon who she met while square dancing and had a son, Jess, her only surviving relative, born in 1955. The marriage failed and led to divorce but she was able to stay-at-home raising Jess on her savings until he reached pre-school age, when she returned to the work force.
In the mid 1950s Jessie got her first pets, a cat, Ivory who "adopted" Jessie one day as she waited at the bus stop and followed her home only to receive an a much needed bath using Ivory soap. And her first dog, Taffy, a boxer, grew from a small puppy to a 65 pound powerhouse who loved walks and later riding in her VW beetle.
Jessie also had a very close friendship with her cousin Mae Isernio. Al, Mae's husband, became her son's Godfather. Later the four of them would get together for dinner and card games, sometimes with other members of her large extended family. She also had a very strong friendship with her neighbor Alice Sides who would become Jess' godmother.
Jessie's love for the outdoors and hiking resulted in her being one of the first members of the mountaineers as well as REI. She enjoyed their organized hikes and took her young son along on these organized outings which included their annual salmon bake. Her friendship at Boeing with Ted and Ginny Simpson lasted for nearly two decades and as Ginny had two children of Jess' age, they would get together for Christmas and birthday celebrations in the 50s and 60s.
In the 60s Jessie worked at Lynden Farms and later in an Alaska shipping company both in clerical positions. She went on vacations to Mt. Rainier, Olympic National Park and British Columbia with her son. She bought a VW Beetle in 1967 and drove the car for over 35 years taking it on many vacations and trips.
After her son graduated from Queen Anne High in 1973 and went away to college in California and England, Jessie continued her outdoor hiking activities with visits to Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion national parks while working at her last job at the Canadian Imperial National Bank. She retired in 1978 and continued living at her Queen Anne home, enjoying gardening and senior tennis and aerobic dance into the 1980s. In the early 80s, she got her second dog, Misha, a Siberian Wolf mix who was her companion on daily walks, particularly around Green Lake, Woodland Park and Discovery Park. They would go with her son on annual ski trips to Whistler BC at Christmas. She enjoyed walking with Misha on the snowy trails.
In the late 80s and 90s she made yearly trips with Misha, and then her third dog Mitzi, to visit her son who lived and worked in New Mexico. During these trips she enjoyed visiting the various national parks in the South West, ascended in a hot air balloon at the Albuquerque Balloon fiesta and took a white water raft on the Rio Grande. She also revisited some of the parks of her youth such as Banff and Jasper in Canada. She had a great love of afternoon tea and enjoyed this ceremony at numerous well known locations, including her favorite, the Butchart gardens on Vancouver Island, B.C.
When in her late 70s and early 80s, Jessie took two very memorable trips. The first was a cruise on the inside passage to Alaska and Glacier bay, visiting glaciers, observing orcas and eagles and taking sidetrips to glaciers on sea planes while enjoying the gourmet cuisine found on cruise ships. The second trip was to visit the east coast for the first time, spending time in NY, attending Broadway shows and eating at the finest restaurants. This trip included visits to historic Williamsburg and the various museums and monuments in Washington D.C.
She continued to visit Whistler at Christmas and made numerous trips to New Mexico to visit her son. As she turned 90, Jessie required hip replacement surgery to recover mobility. This was a bit of a set-back for a year or two, but then she recovered sufficiently to make three more trips to New Mexico to visit various National Parks in Arizona, Utah, Colorado and California. She made her last trip to visit Victoria B.C. and her beloved Butchart gardens for tea when she was 98.
Though not traveling outside Seattle after age 98, she continued to attend the opera, seeing Porgy and Bess, Aida, and Madame Butterfly, having holiday tea at the Olympic Hotel, and eating out with her son at least once a week at her favorite restaurants, Ray's Boathouse, Canlis, and Ivar's. She enjoyed having breakfasts with her friends Mickey and Karen Schurr and getting out in her garden to enjoy the spring colors. She led a very full and active life.
A private memorial and celebration of life took place on Thursday, May 2nd, 2019.