Jeanne L. Feury aka Jeanne L. Ritchey aka Jeanne Louise Stratford -
As told by her daughter, Jessie Ritchey Pearsall
My mother prided herself on her uniqueness and zest for life. She was never at a loss for words, never held her tongue, and always inspired others to be their best and think and act outside the box. In her honor, I am replacing an obituary with her story told to the best of my recollection and with the help of her friends and family.
My mother was born to Tom and Helen Stratford on February 13, 1942 in Washington, NJ. They lived with the bare essentials - to put it mildly. Jeanne was the 3rd of the Stratford children: Tom Stratford (d. 2019), Kay Kelly, Jeanne Feury, Albie Stratford, and Betty Reed (d. 2013).
My mother dropped out of traditional high school. Later received her GED and went on to receive her AA in business. She didn’t receive her AA until I was in grade school. She was very proud of this accomplishment.
Don Ritchey came into the picture, married my mother and I am the product of their love. We lived in South Plainfield, NJ. Yes, I’m one of those only children. My parents are my world. Well, I made it - but my parents’ marriage didn’t. They got divorced.
My mother was very busy during those years. She advocated for recycling before we even knew what recycling was. She was featured on the front page of our small town newspaper. You would often find her in long blonde pigtails and she would lead Girl Scout activities for years. For four years she played softball totally for fun. Obviously for fun because her team never once won a game.
For 25 years Jeanne taught yoga at the South Plainfield Adult School and had over 150 students. She loved them all and if any one of them was in any kind of pain she would take time to email them support or send notes.
I couldn’t tell this story without including my children and grandchildren. She adored them. Amanda Hancock, Amber Curtis, Alex Pearsall and Austin Pearsall are her grandchildren. Max Curtis, Stone Curtis, Asher Hancock and Skye Curtis are her great grandchildren. She adored being with them and would spend countless hours kneeling down to play with them. It was her joy, and resulted in knee surgery this past year. But she never stopped playing with them.
When it came to being an Aunt she went above and beyond. Just ask Helen (Cookie) Stratford, Robbie Stratford, Jodie Reedell, Holly Stratford, Jeff Stratford, Steve Ayers, Paul Reed, Eddie Reed, and Sandra Reed. Aunt Jeanne thought nothing of taking 10 or 12 kids camping on her own. And many of them experienced the theater for the first time with her.
A woman pioneer in the seed industry, she was the Credit and Collections Manager for Loft Seed Company for many years.
For a few years my mother owned a Bed and Breakfast in Clinton NJ. The Amber House.
Then my mother’s life would change drastically. Bill Feury swept her off her feet.
Bill Feury married my mother, and for 15 years she felt like Cinderella. They traveled the world, went on cruises, bantered about politics, enjoyed cocktails, shared ice cream and so much more. She wanted more time with him, but he left this world in 2012.
After Bill passed away and my mother moved to Maryland to be near me, her grandchildren, and her great grandchildren. She spent her days participating in adult education classes, listening to NPR, buying and selling antique furniture to decorate her house, and of course spending time with her family.
Throughout her life, my mother would not hesitate to hug strangers, give advice to anyone who would listen (or pretend to listen), slip money to soldiers making purchases, pay admission to museums for the people in front of her and behind her, buy lemonade from children on the street, and would never pass by someone asking for food. She gave away her laughter freely and as often as she could. You could hear her coming before you could see her.
I will miss her immensely.
Her story doesn’t end. It lives on in the lives she has touched.
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