Private services have been arranged for Jeanne Blackstone, who passed away peacefully at her home on Friday morning, March 8th. Jeanne had turned 97 years old on January 23rd.
She was born in the family homestead at 54 Leah Avenue on the south side of Youngstown in 1922, the daughter of Harry and Viola Carter. For Jeanne, growing up on Leah Avenue was a gift and a blessing. As was common in that era, the home was filled with a large extended family, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. Sunday dinners required two shifts, and the house was always bustling with activity. Among her favorite memories was walking to and from Jackson Elementary School, walking home for lunch, and then walking back to school. With two great parents and two great sisters, Ruth and Sally, Jeanne grew up with a serenity that defined her personality.
She graduated from Wilson High in 1940, and then took secretarial courses at Youngstown College. During the War years, she worked in the offices of Carnegie Steel and for the Youngtown schools. In 1943, she met a handsome South High graduate named Bill Johnston. They became engaged, but before they were married, the Army Air Corps sent Bill to the European theater to serve his tour of duty as a fighter pilot. In September of 1944, on his final mission before coming home, he was shot down and killed in Pelm, Germany.
Bill’s best friend was James Blackstone, who was serving in the Pacific in the Marines. After the War, Jeanne and Jim got together and were married on April 15, 1947 in St. Patrick’s church. They raised four children, three boys and a girl, mainly in Liberty Township. Like Leah Avenue, the home on Northlawn Drive was a great, fun place, with lots of kids in the neighborhood and great neighbors. Jeanne had an especially close bond with the other moms in the neighborhood.
After the kids were all in school, Jeanne went back to work part-time, and was the secretary for Joe Schwebel for five years in his Liberty office. She later returned to work for the Youngstown schools and was fortunate to finish her career at her alma mater, Woodrow Wilson. She retired in 1986. She really enjoyed work, and until just a few years ago, she helped with the secretarial work at her church, First Presbyterian on Wick Avenue, where she was also a Deaconess.
Jeanne was truly a free spirit and always seemed to be, in her words, “as happy as a lark.” She always had the most fun at parties and was usually the main entertainment herself, and she hardly touched a drop. She ran the sweeper every day, cleaned, cooked, and made sure everyone was having fun. There always seemed to be chocolate cake on the kitchen counter. She loved doing lunch with the girls and had so many friends. She always dressed immaculately, and her closets bulged with clothes and shoes (as Jim often reminded her), but she was completely unpretentious. She really enjoyed summer days with the kids at Northside pool or Crandall Park or Idora Park. She seems to have never met a person she didn’t like, and she always saw the best in others.
Jeanne and Jim were married for 71 years until he passed away last May. She is survived by her sons James Jr. of Naples, Florida, Jeff (Barb) of Bardstown, Kentucky, Jay of Boardman, her daughter, Janet Kessler of Boardman, her grandchildren, Kathryn Kessler of Boardman, Thomas James (T.J.) Blackstone of Boardman, Spencer and Lauren Elizabeth Blackstone of Bardstown, her sister, Sally Wittenauer of Naples, and her nephew, Alan Wittenauer of Naples. Her other sister, Ruth Sullivan, with whom Jeanne was inseparable, passed away in 1992.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the professional care of Rossi & Santucci Funeral Home, 4221 Market Street, Boardman.
Jeanne will be joining Jim at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Boardman.
Family and friends may visit www.rossisantuccifh.com to view this obituary, sign the guest book or send condolences to Jeanne’s family.
Once again, many thanks to Hospice of the Valley.