Jeanne Montgomery Bewicke
Jeanne Montgomery Bewicke, age 102, formerly of Hilton, NY, passed away on Tuesday, January 26, 2021, at the Wedgewood Nursing Home in Spencerport, NY.
Born February 16, 1918, in Washington, PA, she was the daughter of the late George B. and Mary Lee (Roseborough) Montgomery.
She was predeceased by her husband, Harold D. Bewicke, her brother, George R. (Francis) Montgomery, and sister, Martha (Frank) Preuninger. She is survived by her three children: Mark (Phyllis Lista) Bewicke, Lee Bewicke, and Anna (Doug) Harp. Loving grandmother of Shauna (Jarrod) Keesler, Aurora Bewicke, Madeline Harp, Spencer Harp, Mary (Michel) Kelly-Pelletier, April (Michael) Beadling, and Gillian (Phil) Shipe, and of her great-grandchildren: Alex, Carter, Colin, Kendall, Noah, Riley, and Ziyad. She is also survived by her sister-in-law Sara Jean (David) Full, daughter-in-law Tabitha (Mary) Buggie-Hunt, cousins, nephews, and nieces.
Gifts of remembrance can be made to either the Aurora Waldorf School, 525 West Falls Rd, West Falls, NY 14170, or the Parma-Hilton Historical Society, 1300 Hilton-Corners Rd, Hilton, NY 14468.
Jeanne Montgomery Bewicke lived a long life filled with friends, family, fulfilling jobs, and travel adventures. During her 102 years, she witnessed many events in the world and changes in day-to-day life. Looking back, she lived an amazing life.
Jeanne Elizabeth Montgomery was born on February 16, 1918, in Washington, Pennsylvania, to George B. Montgomery and Mary Lee (Roseborough) Montgomery. Her birth certificate lists George’s occupation as a Capitalist and Mary Lee’s as a Homemaker. The Montgomery family now had three children: Martha, George, and Jeanne.
Carefree early years included childhood friends, family vacations, visits with and by extended family, folk dancing, artistic pursuits, and summer camps. Jeanne’s father fell ill and passed away when she was 15.
By age 13, Jeanne was a student at the Washington Female Seminary, a Presbyterian seminary for women in Washington, Pennsylvania. While in the school’s college preparatory program, Jeanne continued her artistic pursuits and graduated in 1936.
After graduation, encouraged by her mother and sister Martha, Jeanne took a year to live in Germany and attend the American High School in Munich, Germany. During this gap year she picked up a second language before college. During school breaks, Jeanne traveled throughout Germany and Switzerland with her friends. On one road trip with her sister she toured through Poland, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Greece--reaching Constantinople/Istanbul.
After returning home in 1937, Jeanne enrolled at Wilson College, a premier women's liberal arts school in Chambersburg, PA. She lived in the dorms and graduated in 1941 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Almost immediately after graduation, Jeanne was off to NYC for a one-semester program at the New York Institute of Photography. She stayed in an apartment building that accommodated women of limited means that served breakfast and dinner in a dining room. Jeanne was still living there when Pearl Harbor was attacked that December.
Upon earning her Professional Photography Certificate, in February 1942 the school obtained a job placement for Jeanne as a photographic sales clerk in Washington, DC. After working there for six months, she was approached by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a forerunner to the CIA, to work for the government processing black and white war film. The job lasted for almost two and a half years until World War II ended. Jeanne was immediately able to transfer to the Coast Guard’s Maritime Commission, Division of Information Photo Lab. For another two years, she did similar work. Jeanne then worked at a start-up color photofinishing business. She returned to working for the government in 1950, this time for the Army Signal Corps’ Photo Library and Laboratory in the Pentagon.
During her years working in Washington, DC, Jeanne also participated in and led folk dancing classes and groups, made friends, and dated. While working in the Pentagon, Jeanne met her future husband, Harold Drummond Bewicke, a U.S. Army Corporal posted in a color processing lab across the way from the black and white film lab where she worked. They were married the next year in 1951, and the couple stayed in D.C until Harold’s enlistment was up.
Jeanne and Harold then moved to Rochester, NY, where he had lived and worked before enlistment and still had relatives in the area. They started their own family and continued to expand it with the births of their three children: Mark Montgomery in 1953, Lee Drummond in 1955, and Anna Elizabeth in 1960. During that time, they lived in and around the Rochester area except for several years in Los Angeles, where Harold used the G.I. Bill to attend UCLA and complete a college degree. Eastman Kodak recruited Harold back to Rochester, and the family relocated.
While being a stay-at-home mom, Jeanne often raised vegetables, grew flowers, and enjoyed card games, puzzles, and trips to museums. She became an amateur naturalist, readily identifying plants, trees, and birds. When her youngest child was a teen, Jeanne returned to work. After her long absence from the workforce, she began as a sales clerk at a department store. A few years later, Jeanne obtained a job at Kodak developing experimental films. She continued working there for many years.
Jeanne enjoyed becoming a grandmother in 1977 when her son Lee’s first daughter, Shauna, was born. Shauna’s sister, Aurora, was born in 1979. Much later, her daughter provided two additional grandchildren, Madeline in 2000 and Spencer in 2004. Over the years, Jeanne treasured time spent with her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, whether traditionally related or not.
In 1987, Harold unexpectedly died of cancer. Jeanne continued to work at Kodak until 1989, retiring at age 71. Jeanne felt that someone younger probably needed the job more than she did. After retirement, Jeanne re-immersed herself in folk-dancing, playing cards (mainly bridge), and travel, including one trip to Alaska. For most of her remaining years, she lived independently, moving into an assisted living residence after a bad fall at age 98.
Jeanne enjoyed family gatherings, from summer picnics to holiday gatherings. Visits often included working on jigsaw puzzles, playing card games, and reminiscing.
The pandemic made family visits difficult. Jeanne tested positive for COVID-19 in December 2020. While she survived the acute infection, her body could not recover the toll it had taken, and she passed on January 26, 2021, just three weeks shy of her 103rd birthday. She was a gentle and kind soul who will be remembered by all who knew her.