Jackie was born Dec. 12, 1933, in Huntington, to Paul and Marguerite Gressley. She departed this life for eternity just shy of her 89th birthday on Dec. 3, 2022.
Jackie met the love of her life on June 25, 1949, while working as a dishwasher at Johnny’s Drive Inn in Huntington. Paul had been eyeing her for some time, and he sent a message through a friend that he would like to drive her home. After some pondering, she accepted his invitation. Jackie’s shift ended at 3 a.m. and Paul and Jackie drove around until 5 a.m., and in her own words, “I was terribly disappointed because he didn’t hold my hand or kiss me good night.” She goes on to say “We made up for it later though, for on the following Thursday night he took me home again. This time he kissed me. Since then, we had not dated anyone else.”
Jackie joined Paul in the Catholic faith he cherished before they married Jan. 12, 1952 at Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church and embarked on building a family. Both had agreed to accept as many children as God would give them as gifts and a legacy that will continue for generations to come began!
Fifteen children, 54 grandchildren, 88 great grandchildren, three great-great grandchildren, and soon to make an entrance three more great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren, and so many in-laws that Jackie loved and cherished.
Jackie was the rock of the family. She was the primary care-taker in that she stayed home with the children while Dad worked. She was a prime example of putting one foot in front of the other in order to keep going and get the job done. It would be difficult to list everything Mom did for us and for the family.
She always knew how to stretch a meal so that all of our bellies were full and satisfied. And to see the spread of Christmas cookies, breads, candies and pies she whipped up like magic every year, not only for us but to share with family, friends and neighbors.
One little story - if you can imagine Mom at home with stair-stepped children and most likely a nursing baby and one or two being potty trained, and perhaps pregnant with the next, breaking up fights over toys or games, spilled milk, chores not done and the neighbor coming to tell you that your sons have painted her dog green… It may have been a day such as that when Mom put her suitcases on the back porch and sat on them waiting for Dad to get home. When he arrived, she put her bags in the station wagon and drove off leaving Dad to figure out what happened. By the time of Dad’s arrival, we were tiptoeing and afraid we sent her over the brink! Years later Mom would tell us that her bags were empty.
Even with all the shenanigans that children can come up with, Paul and Jackie always had room for one more. They fostered many babies waiting to be adopted into their forever families and hosted many exchange students.
Family was truly cherished by Jackie. On Saturday when we were told she may not make it through the night, her oldest daughter, Mary, was by her side and gave everyone the opportunity to call on her cellphone and talk to Mom, although she could not respond. After the last of her children called, within minutes, Jackie peacefully entered the banquet of eternal life.
I would like to share a snippet of a letter that Jackie’s grandson-in-law, Harold wrote to her as a Dec. 2 meditation on Adam & Eve …
“Later as I thought about our visit, I realized how much of an honor it is to be part of your story. It is a beautiful chapter in the family of God.
God made woman from Adam's rib to be a helpmate. Brokenness followed, Mary was the Theotokos, Jesus was born, the Church was established, Paul met a woman at a car hop, she became the heart of his home and his helpmate …
Later a women would come into my life and become my heart and helpmate. I pray my children will continue your story… or should I say God's story, as they are intertwined.
Thank you for the gift of my family and the lineage that you have gifted me. It is an honor and privilege to continue the line of such a devoted family.
Women might be a pain in the side sometimes, but I would never trade my rib back with ladies like you, Cindy, and Rebecca in my life.
"Oh Lord, I think I want my rib back!" … said only fools “
Jackie is survived by sons Michael of Houston Texas, Patrick (Teri) of Dayton, Ohio, Robert (Geraldine) of Fort Wayne, David of Indianapolis, Mark (Ingrid) of Indianapolis and daughters Mary of Huntington, Lisa Tipton (Michael) of New Lebanon, Ohio, Cindy Olson (Paul) of Lexington, Kentucky, Liane Carroll (Bob), Jeanine Skordos, Ellen Bouillon (Tim) of Fort Wayne, Stephanie Berridge (George) of Brooksville, Florida, Leslie Lord (Lee) of Sallisaw, Oklahoma. She is also survived by sisters Beverly (Robert) Barton of Hartford City and Charlotte (Doc) Elzey of Huntington.
Jackie was preceded in death by the love of her life Paul in 2008. They also lost daughter Kathy, daughter Theresa, and great -granddaughter Kaitlyn.
Also preceded in death by her parents, Paul and Marguerite, brother George Gressley and sisters Judy Gressley, Shirley Rickert and Virginia VanderWeg.
Mass of Christian Burial is 10:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, at Saint Jude Catholic Church, 2130 Pemberton Dr Fort Wayne., with visitation one hour prior to Mass. Visitation also 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Divine Mercy Funeral Home, 3500 Lake Ave., Fort Wayne, with Rosary service at 7:30 p.m. Burial will be in Catholic Cemetery. Memorials to Masses at Saint Jude Catholic Church, Saint Jude Catholic School tuition assistance fund, Bishop Dwenger High School tuition assistance fund or Bishop Luers High School tuition assistance fund.