Mary Jean Peck (Kelley) of Woodstock, VA passed away May 26, 2015 after a brief illness.
Born 2/11/1935 in Utica, NY, she was raised in frigid Gowanda, near Buffalo, and later resided in Herkimer, NY, with her beloved husband, Victor. Together, they moved to Woodstock, VA, in 1995. They quickly grew to love the Shenandoah Valley which was reminiscent of their country roots.
A dedicated care-giver her entire life, Mary Jean learned to cook and tend to the dozen foster care children her parents took in over the years in their modest, three bedroom home with one bathroom. She washed their laundry by hand, sewed their clothing and cleared the dishes for her foster brothers and sisters while still a child herself. She was often asked to give up her own room to accommodate others. These early, Dickens’- like lessons in selfless service for the benefit of the ill or less fortunate became ingrained and a guiding force for the rest of her eighty years.
A significant illness in her late teens derailed her aspirations to become a physician. Despite this hurdle, she still earned a bachelor’s degree in history at The University of Rochester, where she was tasked with budgeting and preparing meals to feed fifty sorority sisters.
She met her future husband, Victor F. Peck, in Rochester, NY, where they worked. They were married in Gowanda, NY in September 1958.
She was forward thinking with an uncanny ability to foresee change and plan for it. An early career twist working for the C.I.A in Washington, D.C. was too dull for her. There was more action teaching second grade, where she applied her subsequent Master’s Degree in Education. At Annunciation School in Ilion, NY, she instituted a then unknown multi-sensory approach to education, with a special emphasis on children with reading and learning disabilities. She also served as a regional director for The ARC.
Mary Jean was a nursing home administrator for most of her working life, both in NY State and at Susan B. Miller in Woodstock, VA. She took great pride in her deficiency-free record at both facilities. With a quiet strength and humility, which could be mistaken for stoicism, Mary Jean rolled her sleeves to personally tend to patients or repair the ailing furnace, a skill she’d learned from her beloved father, Henry Kelley. During her administrations, she envisioned and endorsed a model for a continuum of care for seniors that was to become a reality in the following decades.
A devoted wife and mother, an everything-from-scratch baker as well as a gifted photographer, Mary Jean still made time in her industrious life to become a trained EMT.
She leaves behind her devoted husband of 56 years, Vic Peck, of Woodstock, her daughter Sharlene Blum, husband Michael and grandson, Greg Blum, of Woodstock; her son, Jeff Peck and wife Michelle, of Knoxville, TN and grandchildren (Zack, Sarah Jane, Emma, Sydney, Max) , and son Scott Peck and wife Heidi, and grandchildren (Lauren, Lindsey, Drew), in Superior CO.
Mary Jean requested that she be cremated with no public visitation or service. In Lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in her name to Shenandoah Memorial Hospital, where she received the level of extraordinary compassion and patient care that she had advocated for all her life.
The family wishes to acknowledge the kindness and indefatigable efforts of Dr. Jerry Germroth, of Woodstock, and the grace and guidance of Pastor Lisa Webb, of The Woodstock Presbyterian Church.