CLINTON, MA — Jean Webster, 96, passed away suddenly in the early morning of March 14 at Clinton Hospital after a brief admission for observation following a fall two days earlier. Lively to the end, the day before she passed, she spent the afternoon engaged in a three-hour chat-a-thon with her daughter-in-law, watching Hallmark mysteries on two TV screens simultaneously, and enjoying a hospital dinner of American chop suey, one of her favorite meals. She did observe, however, they had sent her vanilla pudding instead of the chocolate ice cream she had ordered, but nonetheless she happily wolfed down the pudding! Her final instructions to her daughter-in-law as she was leaving was to bring Mama Jean a cup of Dunkin’ coffee the next day.
Jean, Mom, Nana, Mama Jean, was a 68-year resident of Wilmington, Massachusetts where she was active in her community, raised three children, was a friend to her neighbors, and had an ever-open door to several generations of neighborhood children. In her Charlestown (Boston) High School yearbook entry she said her ambition was to become a nurse. She fulfilled that ambition after her children were grown by becoming a licensed practical nurse caring for patients at Tewksbury State Hospital until her retirement. For many years after her retirement, she taught a nutrition class at the Wilmington Senior Center.
An avid gardener in her younger years, she was always prepared to share at least some of her produce with the generations of gophers who lived under her back shed. She loved music and after a hiatus of 50 years she resumed piano lessons, noting with pride she was the oldest performer at her piano teacher’s public recitals. As well as embroidery and crochet, Mom, Nana, Mama Jean could sew up a storm, making clothes for her children, herself, and dolls and stuffed animals for the generations who came later.
She was a life-long lover of companion animals. In Charlestown, prior to moving to Wilmington, she and her husband George had trained the family cat to hop into a bucket and be lowered from their second-floor window to the yard below. She was delighted when in 1950 she and George moved to their Wilmington home at 52 Andover Street and found a dog came with the house. A neighbor presented them with Tubby, abandoned by the previous owners. For the ensuing dozen or so years, Tubby was a companion and role model for her three children. More dogs and cats followed.
Jean lived the last two years of her life with her son and daughter-in-law in Clinton, Massachusetts. A voracious reader, she read at least one newspaper daily, subscribed to several news magazines, and was always willing to discuss current events with anyone who might be well-enough informed to keep up with her. At the time of her death, she was deep into a 900-page biography of Harry Truman, which became a source of dinnertime conversation.
Jean was born the daughter of Gladys and Edward O’Donnell in Worcester, Massachusetts. She and her husband George Webster, who was also born in Worcester, were married in 1943 while he was serving in the Army Air Corps. They were together for 67 years until George’s passing in 2010.
She is survived by her daughters Alice Sexton of Bedford, New Hampshire, and Melissa Carrington of Savannah, Georgia; her son James Webster and daughter-in-law Gloria Parkinson of Clinton, Massachusetts; grandchildren and spouses, Christine Sexton-Irvin and Steven Irvin; Thomas Sexton; Bryan and Theresa Webster; Lori and David Leclair; Rachel Carrington; 17 great grandchildren, two great-great grandchildren some by blood, some by love; and many nephews and nieces. All beloved by Jean. She also had an enormous capacity for friendship including Lois Gallagher, Adele Passmore and her family, Carol Barnes, Andrew Jensen and Heather, and many others.
Jean’s, Mom’s, Nana’s, Mama Jean’s family and many friends will miss her greatly, but may we all smile when we remember her. For that is what she would wish.
An outdoor gathering in celebration of her life will be held at Jim and Gloria’s home in Clinton on May 1. Due to possible Covid restrictions on gathering size please contact Jim or Gloria nearer the date for precise time.
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