Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there’s a star named Jean shining bright in the sky. Jean Burwell Ford, 83, passed away peacefully Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, surrounded by loved ones. Born in Hanover County, she was the daughter of the late Newton Burwell Jones and Agnes (Lucord) Jones.
She was a 1952 graduate of Washington Henry High School in Hanover County. Upon graduating from high school, Jean entered business school in Richmond. During a 10-year tenure working in a dermatology practice, she met the love of her life, her future husband and the “luckiest man alive,” Wayne Emrick Ford. They wed in 1963 and moved to Virginia Beach.
As a child, Jean found her voice, her singing voice, that is. A voice that earned her several awards and contest wins throughout the years and included one very special performance. After having won several singing contests to get to the finale, Jean performed at what was then known as “The Mosque” in Richmond before a representative of The Original Amateur Hour who was the master of ceremonies for the evening’s talent contest. Her performance garnered not one, but multiple standing ovations. She was offered the opportunity to travel to New York to appear on The Original Amateur Hour. However, circumstances at the time made it necessary for Jean to remain in Virginia; alas, denying America the joy of experiencing her immense vocal talents.
Jean’s love of flowers likely led to her passion for butterflies. In 1992, she was a charter member of the Butterfly Society of Virginia and spent years raising and releasing butterflies; namely Monarchs and Black Swallowtails. A nurturer by nature, Jean loved all animals, especially cats, and leaves behind her beloved Baby Cakes as well as a family of three (neutered) feral cats she took under her loving care.
Jean’s gift for caring extended throughout their neighborhood, especially to the neighborhood children who called her Miss Jean, Grandma Jean and even Babushka! After being “called out” by member “Steve” for attending a lunch and not joining the club, Jean made it official and joined husband Wayne as a member of The Norfolk Sports Club finding enjoyment and camaraderie at countless meetings and events for the remainder of her life.
Jean will be sorely missed by fellow Thursday night dinner group members with whom she and Wayne had been breaking bread since 2011. Jean will most assuredly be remembered most, however, for her tireless dedication to the patients of the Sentara Leigh Comprehensive Breast Center at Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk. A four-time, breast-cancer survivor, Jean began volunteering at the breast center in 1993 and completed over 5,100 hours of volunteer service. She participated in a breast cancer survivor support group and was beloved by the doctors, nurses, technicians and patients, hundreds of whose lives were touched and enhanced by her warm smile, empathetic understanding and the York Peppermint Patties she was known for always having on hand. On the morning of Thursday, October 18th she was awarded her 25 year service pin by Sentara Leigh Hospital president, Joanne M. Inman in the company of many hospital staff members who came to celebrate and honor Jean, her achievement and service to the hospital.
She is survived by her husband of 55 years, Wayne E. Ford; surrogate daughter, Stephanie Slatner, who is the mother of her namesake, Caroline Jean Slatner; surrogate son, Andy Carwile; and many loving family members and friends.
All those whose lives Jean touched are invited to attend a visitation from 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the Norfolk Chapel of H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts. A funeral service will be conducted at 11 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 25, at the funeral home chapel. A celebration of life service will be held at 1 p.m., Friday, Oct. 26, at Shady Grove United Methodist Church, 8209 Shady Grove Road, Mechanicsville. Burial will follow in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Richmond.
In lieu of flowers, Jean would have preferred you make a donation to a charity that benefits animals.
Share online condolences with the family at H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts.