Jean K. Wetmore, of Greenport, N.Y. passed away Jan. 3, 2018, due to complications from a stroke sustained while visiting family in North Carolina for Christmas. She was 88 years old.
Jean was born in Greenport on May 23, 1929, the oldest child of Samuel Nelson and Blanche (Howell) Ketcham. She was raised in the Knapp Place and Sterling Street neighborhoods in Greenport, and also once lived with her family on a boat in Sterling Harbor so her parents could rent their home to World War II shipyard workers.
She attended Greenport High School, where she participated on the girls softball and basketball teams. She graduated from there in June, 1947. She then worked in Greenport for several years before marrying William Wetmore on June 5, 1950. They resided in a home on Conklin Point on the west side of Greenport, where she raised four children: William Jr. of Greenport, Sara of Benin, West Africa, Nelson (Barbara) of Cary, N.C.; and Elizabeth of Milford, Conn.
She was predeceased in 2015 by her husband of over 64 years. She is survived by her four children; her younger brother, Harry Ketcham of Port St Lucie, Fla.; and her grandchildren, Nathan Wetmore of Corning, N.Y. and Hannah Wetmore of Sunnyvale, Calif.
Jean was an active member of the Greenport United Methodist church, attending services and regularly participating in church fundraisers, dinners, holiday events, and ladies group meetings. She was the co-chairwoman of the annual church Antique Bazaar and Fair for many years in the 1960s and early 1970s. In her later years, she helped organize and run a thrift shop in the church basement.
Jean was also active in the Eastern Long Island Hospital Auxiliary, spending over 20 years as a volunteer “Pink Lady” at the ELIH Opportunity Thrift shop in downtown Greenport. She worked her regular shift there the week before heading south for Christmas.
Jean is best known in the area for being the Attendance (“truant”) Officer at Greenport High School for 20 years, until she retired in 1989. In that role, she was responsible for completing the daily attendance records required by the school district. But she also spent a substantial part of her time locating missing students, working with parents to make sure their kids were in school, and helping with family court cases when necessary. Based upon the stories those students now tell about their escapades, she was good at her job, even earning several nicknames from students she caught skipping school. She was most proud of the nickname “Mean Jean” (because truant students were often punished with detention time in school, or were grounded at home by their parents); she was still fondly known by that name at the time of her death. After she retired, former students would frequently offer to buy “Mean Jean” a beer in a local restaurant, or thank her for helping them navigate a troubled part of their lives in order to stay in school and graduate.
Jean enjoyed traveling to Florida with her husband, watching her grandchildren grow, working in the garden, reading western novels, playing solitaire, attending bluegrass festivals, and following the lives and activities of her Greenport friends and former truants on Facebook.
In retirement, Jean also sponsored a “Hardest Working Student” award at Greenport High School, given each year to a senior who demonstrated the ability to persevere against all odds and still be successful at school. Her family intends to continue this award as a memorial to her work with GHS students.
In accordance with Jean’s wishes, no visitation or funeral services are planned. Cremation was private. A photo gallery commemorating Jean’s life can be viewed online at wetmore.smugmug.com/Family/JeansLife/.
Jean believed in sharing the bounty of one’s life with others who were less fortunate than herself. In lieu of flowers, her family requests that friends who want to honor her memory do so by donating gently used clothing, books, furniture, or household items to the Eastern Long Island Hospital Opportunity Thrift Shop, 321 Main Street, Greenport, NY 11944.
This is a paid notice.