Death of Jean Emery Dettman
Jean Emery Dettman, 89, died on the morning of Thursday, November 15, 2012, at Linden Ponds, Hingham, Massachusetts. She had lived independently in a retirement community for several years, using a walker and embracing life as fully as she could, living with Parkinson’s Disease, increasing deafness and visual impairment, cheerful and zesty almost to the end! Our beautiful mother, Jean Louise Emery, was born to Warren and Louise Emery on a snowy day, April 24, 1923, in Toledo, Ohio. Mom grew up quiet, pretty, good in school and artistic. She certainly had no idea what was in store for her life! She met Paul Robert Dettman, a smart, intense son of a fireman, who waited on tables at her dorm at Oberlin College, and who took her off to parts unknown. She married Paul between semesters of her senior year, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Oberlin, and then, over the next ten years, followed Paul’s lead to Boston, DC, London, and then back to Oberlin. In 1952, three children later, they sailed for Madurai, South India, as missionary educators with the United Church Board for World Ministries. Who could have guessed? Mom was busy birthing and rearing six kids (two born in India), wielding her intellect, antiseptics and mosquito repellent, colored measuring spoons to teach our cook how to bake, frugal financial and sewing skills, and strict discipline. She ran an inspired verandah school using correspondence materials, learned the Tamil language, and managed a household of servants, children, and visitors. Then came phase 2: After 17 years of the nomadic missionary life, our parents re-settled in Ohio, and Mom became a backbone. Dad struggled with the U.S. adjustment, but Mom soldiered on, launching an 18-year career as a social worker with the state of Ohio. Later came phase 3, when both had retired and moved to New England, Mom plunged into another intellectual world, this time as President of the Learning in Retirement Association in Lowell, Ma. She took nearly every class they offered, read every book recommended, kept meticulous records, and even taught classes herself. Mom and Dad enjoyed their travels to Europe. When Dad died, Mom launched the fourth phase of her life. Someone told her to accept every invitation, and she did. Mom lived alone in Dracut, Massachusetts, in her late 70’s and into her 80’s in a 3-story condo, driving around in a stick shift car, traveling to Europe and South America with children, always advocating for justice and equality. Her last active phase of life started when she finally moved into Linden Ponds, a huge retirement community, where she was able to read tons of books, attend classes, still go to church, and stay connected with family. She vigorously studied other religions in hopes of understanding the human quest for God. Mom was devoted to family, had a wonderful zest for life, a great ability to laugh at herself. We never heard her complain. She remained a quiet, liberal Christian throughout her life. A talented artist, she laughed at her copies of Gauguin, Picasso, and Whistler, but we will treasure them. Mom leaves many loved ones in her embrace scattered in Ecuador, California, Oregon, New England, Florida and Minnesota: sister Marilyn Sipes, sister and brother-in-law Carol and Bill Kirsheman; her six children, Paul, Carl, Cynthia, Joanna, Kurt and Sarah, and their respective partners Mary Kasamatsu, Susan Grealis, Susan Turner, Shigeto Itoh, Kathy Parks, and Eloy Viteri; twelve grandchildren (Ben, Nik, Alex, Mark, Seb, Shige, Masato, Natalie, Chelsea, Ashley, Bryan, and Katie), and several great-grandchildren. She will always be for us a blessed memory.