A Life Well Lived

I had promised the next post would be about Ascher Rothschild’s son, Jacob, but life never quite goes as planned. My mother recently passed away, and while I plan to eventually write a more detailed blog post about her, today, I thought I’d share her obituary.

On 17 March 2022, our brave, beautiful, talented, intrepid wife and mother chose to transition from this life to the next. It seems fitting that this avid gardener and lover of cats chose the feast day of St. Gertrude of Nivelles, the Patron Saint of Cats and Gardeners.

Jeannette Elizabeth Roth Woolf was born in Los Angeles, California 24 May 1936, the oldest child and only daughter of Carroll William Roth and Elizabeth Cleveland Quarles. She was a Campfire Girl as an adolescent, teenager, and young adult, and spent every summer for 13 years at Camp Waswagan, located in the Sierra Nevada mountains. A gifted artist, Jeannette chose to pursue a career as a Medical Illustrator, and attended the Medical College of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. To become a certified Medical Illustrator, one is required to take 3 years of medical school and have an impressive art portfolio. While there, she met fellow medical student Thomas Watson “Emory” Price, Jr. They were married in June 1962. Jeannette graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in June 1963 with a Masters Degree in Medical Arts.

As a Medical Illustrator, surgeons could describe new procedures they were pioneering, such as arthroscopic knee surgery, and new procedures for rotator cuff repair. With those descriptions, she was able to create a series of illustrations accurately depicting the procedure and/or the new instruments that would be needed as well. Jeannette also excelled as a watercolor artist, with her primary subjects being landscapes and old barns. She loved taking watercolor classes, and learning to improve her skills.

Tom and Jeannette were the parents of three children: Elizabeth, Thomas, and William. During their marriage, they lived in Byromville, GA, Cottage Grove, OR, and Montezuma, GA. Widowed at the age of 39, she moved 3 children, 2 cats, 4 kittens, and three large goldfish across country from Georgia to Utah, bought a house, turned part of the yard into a vegetable garden, and became as fiercely independent and self-sufficient as she could. Despite the challenges and financial hardships she faced, she introduced her children to many cultural events, was able to send each of them to Germany as part of an exchange program, and raised her children to be responsible, adventurous adults.

A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jeannette was actively involved in church activities, and delighted in sharing her love of nature, gardening, music, and genealogy with the members of her ward.

One day, shortly after her children had all left home, John Woolf knocked on her door and commissioned her to cross-stitch a picture for him of a skep beehive. He began stopping by periodically to check the progress, then more and more often until he was stopping in daily. By the time it was completed, they were madly in love. They were sealed for Time and Eternity in the Provo Temple on 28 July 1988. Everyone who knew them could see and feel the love radiating from them. John and Jeannette loved participating with the Pioneer Heritage Company. With her attention to detail – she had been a costume mistress in her high school drama department – Jeannette ensured their costumes and activities were accurate to the period they were portraying. For many years, she was a docent at the BYU Museum of Art, and was particularly fond of the Egyptian exhibits, the blown glass of Dale Chihuly, and the paintings of C. C. A. Christensen. During her tenure with the BYU MOA, she received perhaps her greatest challenge: a thread-by-thread restoration to restore the Minerva Tichert famous “orange scarf” used in so many of Tichert’s early paintings.

Both John and Jeannette were avid gardeners, and took great pride in their yard. With its split-rail fence, large trees, immaculate flower and vegetable beds, and goldfish pond, it was the talk of the town, and they received Provo City citations and District recognition for their yard and garden.

John and Jeannette were dedicated and devoted to community. John was the first president of Habitat for Humanity in Utah County, and both of them were instrumental in helping create the Utah County affiliate for Habitat for Humanity. For years, on the first Sunday of every month, they would travel to downtown Salt Lake City to feed the homeless “under the viaduct” near Pioneer Park. For years, Jeannette also volunteered in the Deseret Industries Humanitarian Center for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, helping create, assemble, and package supplies for worldwide relief operations. With her medical background, Jeannette was a volunteer for the American Red Cross during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Following her stroke in January 2011, John has been by her side almost constantly, caring for her in every way imaginable, never letting her forget his undying love for her. Her children are so very grateful for his example of unconditional love and compassion.

Jeannette is survived by her husband John; her children Elizabeth Foote (James Foote), Thomas Price (Andie Grace), William Price (Jeni Austin); her stepchildren John Harper, Timberlyn, Sarah, and Kristen Woolf; her granddaughters Maren Christensen, Chloe Tolman, and Jamie Grace; her grandsons Nolan, Nathan, and Jason Foote; and her brother, Bill Roth; as well as her cousins, Betty Thompson and Sandra Asquith.

Jeannette will be interred on Tuesday, 22 March 2022 at 10:30 a.m. at the Mount Olivet Cemetery, 1342 East 500 South, Salt Lake City, Utah. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in her name to the charity of your choice. 

So often when we read an obituary, or when we talk of a loved one’s recent passing, we focus on the aspects that made them almost saint-like. I’ve been remembering mom’s silliness, her love of painting, and her passion for having everything “just so”. Here are some examples:

The first exhibit at the BYU Museum of Art was on the Etruscans, the civilization that preceded Ancient Rome. Mom suggested everyone dress in period appropriate clothing for the first week, and the director agreed. Rather than risk people showing up in poorly draped bed sheets, mom volunteered to make all the costumes. I remember her telling me, with unveiled disgust in her voice, “The men wore the robes over their shirts and ties, with their suit pants sticking out. It looked so DORKY!!!”

She and John were shingling the roof once, and a friend helped them for a few hours. After the friend left, mom, from 20 feet away, said, “John, that shingle, 3rd row up and 5 tabs in, is 1/16th inch off. You need to fix it, or it’s going to throw the whole line off as we proceed.” John tried arguing with her that it wasn’t off, that no one would notice, and that there was no way she could see it from that far away. To prove his point, he measured. It was 1/16th inch off. He fixed it.

When I went to visit Vöhl in 2019, I wanted to take part of mom with me to leave there. After discussing it with my brothers and John, we settled on one of her small paintings. It wasn’t until I was presenting it to the Förderkreis Synagoge in Vöhl, e.V., that I realized she had painted it in 1999, the same year the Förderkreis was founded. If she hadn’t been incapacitated from her stroke, she’d have beat me to the airport to go on that trip. Or at least picked which painting she wanted to send.

Karl-Heinz Stadtler holding mom’s painting in the erstwhile Synagogue in Vöhl. It has since been framed and is hanging on display there.

God-speed, mom. Until we meet again

Published by Elizabeth Foote

I am a wife, step-mother, auntie, daughter, sister, friend. I love family history, restoration projects, counted cross-stitch, quilting, and photography. I am grateful for the blessings that abound in my life.

4 thoughts on “A Life Well Lived

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. Your mother sounds like she was an amazing person. I also recently lost my mother (in February). It’s so hard even when we know they’ve lived good long lives.

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    1. Oh, Amy, I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. Sending you heartfelt love and hugs. Mom’s passing was not unexpected. In fact, in September, the hospice nurse said she wouldn’t make Christmas, and we wondered if she’d even make it as far as Thanksgiving! She just kept plugging along until the end, and she fought every step of the way! I am beyond comforted in knowing she’s much happier to be free of her broken mind and body. One of my cousins said she can picture her in the gardens of heaven. The rest of us agree she’s telling them how to rearrange the flowerbeds for the best effect! My your days be filled with comfort and your heart be filled with peace.

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      1. I have visions of my mom reunited with my dad and her beloved sister and brother-in-law. It gives me great comfort.

        Thanks, Elizabeth.

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