Jean Marie Westbrook Eppinger of Monroe passed away on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. She was 85 years old.
Jean was born on Sept. 16, 1935, in Middletown, to Paul and Helen Westbrook. She was proud of her ancestry. Mom’s family was Swedish and Dad’s arrived on the Mayflower. She was proud of being a native of Middletown and Orange County. Jean called herself a native and persons not from Orange County were “foreigners.”
Growing up, Jean was very active in the First Presbyterian Church, Rainbow Girls in the Masonic Temple, and Girl Scouts. She loved the outdoors and all animals, whether it be a deer or a skunk. She spent many summers working as a camp counselor in Girl Scout camps.
Jean graduated from Middletown High School in 1953, and Orange County Community College (SUNY) in 1955. Following graduation, she attended SUNY New Paltz.
Jean loved New York City and always wanted to live there. She moved to the city and worked with young boys at Lexington School for the Deaf. She next worked in NYC day care in both the Bronx and the Lower East Side (SoHo) of Manhattan. She always cared about young children, and wanted to help them.
Jean decided on a career change and became a sales assistant at Armstrong Cork Industrial Products in Rockefeller Center. Living in Manhattan, Jean became active in Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church and the 20-30 Club for young adults as the official “meter and greeter.”
One Sunday night in December 1964, Frank walked in and was greeted by Jean. It was an instant match: a country girl with a city boy. All these years later, Frank says he remembers what she wore that night. Soon Frank joined Jean as a member in all activities in both the church and the club. Jean loved playing Bridge and Frank played volleyball.
Jean and Frank became engaged on June 17, 1965, and married on June 18, 1966, at the First Presbyterian Church in Middletown. Jean always believed that marriage is a lifetime commitment, and was extremely happy when they celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary. Frank usually said “no, it’s our 55th anniversary!”
Once married, Jean and Frank moved to Bergenfield, N.J., where their son Tom and their daughter Paula were born. Jean many times said “once a Jersey girl, always a Jersey girl” about Paula.
In 1972 the family moved to Monroe, New York and into their family home in Monroe in 1975. Jean joined the Mombasha Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary in 1974 after Frank became a volunteer firefighter. As a member, Jean enjoyed working at dinners, parties and Bingo. She served as treasurer of the auxiliary for many years.
The family joined the First Presbyterian Church in Monroe, where Jean was a Sunday School teacher and a Youth Fellowship Club Mentor. For 16 years, Jean volunteered in the church food pantry with Frank. She treated all clients with respect, humor and kindness. She always told them: “Next time I see you, you will be smiling!”
When their daughter Paula joined the Girl Scouts, Jean herself rejoined and became very active as a leader for a total of 40 years. Jean was so proud when Paula received her Girl Scout Gold Award.
When their son Tom joined the Boy Scouts, Jean also joined. She started as a Den Mother to the Cub Scouts and moved on to Boy Scout Troop #240. Jean was very proud when Tom earned his rank as an Eagle Scout.
Jean supported Frank and worked with him when he moved on to Boy Scout District and Council activities, helping at dinners, ceremonies and camping trips. After Frank joined Boy Scout Troop #66 in Goshen, Jean became the baker of cupcakes and brownies for meetings, dinners and campouts.
She always supported and worked with Frank on house projects, finances and life itself. Jean also understood and would tell Frank to “Go!” when the fire alarm rang, not knowing the potential danger he faced.
Jean always put Frank, Paula, and Tom ahead of herself. She worked at ShopRite for approximately 10 years on the night shift so she could be home with them during the day. Many times she would have very little sleep after working through the night to ensure the kids had a good breakfast before going to school.
Frank always felt confident while he was commuting to work or traveling for jobs, because he knew that Jean was home taking care of everything, being a great mom and wife.
Frank lost his true love and partner in life. He always said that Jean had more common sense than he had about everything, especially life and people.
Jean enjoyed and excelled at jigsaw puzzles, needlepoint, knitting, sewing, painting and crafts. In her last years, Jean created greeting cards from kits and utilized embossing and stencil cutting machines. These cards were a reflection of Jean herself, a warm and caring person.
Young children sensed Jean’s kindness and called her Grammy Jean and Aunt Cookie.
She was proud of both Tom and Paula for their achievements in life. Recently Paula moved up the corporate ladder, and Jean would show her business card to all her friends. She loved her two grandsons Keith and Erik and loved telling everyone about them.
Jean is survived by her husband Frank Eppinger of Monroe; her daughter Paula M. Eppinger of Pequannock, N,J.; her son Thomas K. Eppinger, his wife Irene and her grandsons Keith and Erik of Staten Island. She is also survived by her nephew Steve and his wife Robin Brennan of Baldwinsville; nephew Jon and his wife Jeni Brennan of Dover, Delaware; along with many grand nieces and nephews.
Jean was predeceased by her parents Helen and Paul Westbrook of Middletown and by her sister Shirley Jane and her husband Joseph Brennan of Warwick. Jean considered Joseph her “big brother” and loved him dearly.
Visitation was held Oct. 4 at Smith, Seaman, and Quackenbush, Inc. Funeral Home, 117 Maple Ave., Monroe.
A chapel service was held Oct. 5, followed by interment at Wallkill Cemetery.
Recognizing Jean’s love for visiting and talking to the animals, her family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Goshen Humane Society, P.O. Box 37, Goshen, NY 10924 (www.goshenhumanesociety.org).
Arrangements are by Smith, Seaman, and Quackenbush, Inc. Funeral Homes (845) 782-8185.