Jean Smith Quinn Christ, born in Darby, PA, on May 5, 1949. Grew up and raised in Wallingford Pa. Graduated Nether Providence High School 1967 and West Chester State University in 1971. Predeceased by her parents Ralph B and M Gretchen (Morash) Smith. She died May 13, 2019 after celebrating her 70th birthday with friends and family at the Warminster Hospice. She is survived by her son Brian Quinn, son Michael Quinn, his wife Jaime Mock Quinn and their three children: Aiden, Grady, and Raegan; also by her siblings Barbara (Keith) Collins of Brooklyn, NY, and Art Smith and his wife Linda and their daughter Michelle Lambert, all of Brookhaven, PA; also cousins, notably: William (Ellin) Smith of Braintree, MA, Nancy M (the late Jack) Haines of Augusta, ME, and Phil (Ann) Morash of Duluth, GA. Former husband John (Kathy) Quinn of Horsham supported Jean and their son Brian throughout this stubborn valiant battle. Jean was recently honored for her 25 years of coaching Special Olympics swimming.
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IMMEDIATE FAMILY: Jean’s father Ralph had been born in Milton, MA of parents who had recently arrived from Bromley, Kent, England; her mother Gretchen nee Morash - in Halifax, Nova Scotia but moved to Melrose, MA with her family in 1922 when she, Gretchen, was age 9. The two met while both working for the A&P (grocery chain) in Boston: Ralph as a career-long fish and seafood buyer; Gretchen as a comptometer operator through motherhood. They courted for 10 years and married in September 1940. Jean’s siblings Barbara was born in 1942 and Art in 1947.
THE YOUNGEST: Jean, ‘the baby’, seems to have entered the world with the idea that her life would be fun and active. Barbara, older, became the reluctant babysitter; Art, so much closer in age, well: a lifelong ‘frenemy’ relationship, more ‘fren’ than ‘emy’! Once a teen, popular Jean showed her sensitivity: an early ally of others, she befriended a high school mate who otherwise had difficulty fitting in. Raised in Wallingford, PA, Jean graduated from Nether Providence High School (now Strath Haven) in 1967.
MUSIC: Jean had a natural ear for music: in high school, she sang with the elite choral group The Meistersingers and played saxophone in the Jazz Band. She also played the electric organ in our living room for her parents’ neighbors when she returned from Saturday dances (good-natured groan). (She and son Brian knew ALL the lyrics to The Jersey Boys and entertained themselves on car trips by singing - loudly!)
HIGH SCHOOL: In addition to musical activity, close high school friends remember Jean for her athleticism - basketball and field hockey were her games – and gentle encouragement of others to join regardless of capability; ‘Jean managed to be friends with everyone: kind, funny, and easy to hang out with’. She helped plan their 50th reunion in Spring 2017 – shortly after Jean was diagnosed with the cancer that ultimately won its battle – but Jean enjoyed the reunion!
WEST CHESTER STATE: With teaching in her bones, Jean attended West Chester State University. She did well in her studies but she also enjoyed her time there, again playing field hockey all four years and, once, reigning as Football Queen. At West Chester, she met John Quinn, a football player and eventually a career high school defensive football coach; they married in 1971 – for a few years. She remarried for a few more – but she always said she came with a limited warranty!
MOM and NEIGHBOR HOOD: Initially, Jean was a Phys Ed teacher in Chester, PA, but left teaching to be a “major” Mom to her sons: Brian, born in 1974, and Mike, born in 1975. The family moved to the Hatboro-Horsham area; Brian, with Down syndrome, entered school at age 3 months and lifelong mother/child friendships were made. Later, Jean worked for several local businesses and for FedEx from which she retired as a Customer Service Rep – let no package (nor good story) go by Jean. Jean served as a member of the board of the Saw Mill Creek Homeowners Association: note the sign: ’Speed Limit: 13-1/2’. She thought the odd number would better catch a driver’s attention – again, with a light touch.
SPECIAL OLYMPICS FAMILY: Brian played nearly every sport offered; Mike coached soccer and swimming. In recent years, Brian qualified for World Games in golf, caddied by his dad John Quinn. Jean chose to coach Montgomery County Special Olympics swimmers, enjoying both swimmers and volunteers. She had a wonderfully light touch in encouraging each and every one. Jean was honored for 25 years of service this past April.
THE BEACH: Jean’s family had summered in Sea Isle City, NJ – and the seashore seemed to be in her bones. She water-skied endlessly: in the Delaware Harbor (!) and on the Bohemia River, on lakes in the Poconos and on the Metedeconk River - wherever someone would help her fly over the water with great élan – until she was age 60! No wonder she had chosen to coach Special Olympics swimming. Finally, and eternally, she reveled in the wild beauty and intimate beaches at Island Beach State Park, NJ.
AS A FRIEND: There was none better - always there for comfort, encouragement, advice, and support. She always seemed to have the words to make a problem seem trivial or easily solvable. She put a smile on the faces of those around her, whether she knew them or not. Always the jokester, life was never dull around Jean. From climbing to the top of the stadium at the US Open, to pasting one eye from a magazine to her glasses, to tirelessly arranging games and sports at her family’s annual get-together, Jean was happiest making other people smile. Always fighting for something or someone; when she took up a battle or project, she did it with gusto. Her first love, of course, was her boys, grandkids and family. Second was Special Olympics, and a finer coach was never born. Always there for her athletes, in or out of the water. 25 years coaching...who does that? Jean was the queen of IBSP. Sun, water and sand, as often as she could. She loved a good tan and her last summer, what a tan – really showed off her beautiful blue eyes. After her retirement, she took up antiquing and re-decorating her and Brian’s home. What an eye – could have done it professionally. Her sons and grandkids, the beach, sister Barbara’s home on the water, her zippy navy-blue Honda CRV, yearly journey to the US Open, Pepsi, antiquing, Miller Lite, flamingos, gnomes – (as the song goes): these were a few of her favorite things.
FAMILY, FAMILY: Jean honored The Tree of Life: she appreciated her Mom – and her mother-in-law Sally Quinn; she gracefully raised her two sons – Brian grew to be proficient in all sports, a dedicated worker at APS, and so socially active that he is the envy of his Uncle Keith. Jean was additionally delighted when Mike turned to Jaime Mock of Ringoes, NJ, to be his wife – and mother of their three children: her three much loved grandchildren: Aiden, Grady, and Raegan. She wished continued happiness for them and for her niece Michelle. Jean made sure the entire family was photographed last month to spectacular effect.
Jean and four close friends planned her Celebration of Life which will be held at the Joseph Ambler Inn, 1005 Horsham Road, North Wales, on Saturday, May 25, from 12-4.
Special thank you to: Dr. Philip Perilstein of Bio-County Medical, Drs. Wayne Pinover and Mark Sundermayer of Abington Jefferson Hospital, Bayada Home Health Aides and the staff at Warminster Hospice. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Special Olympics @ www.specialolympicsmontco.org