Jessie was born September 3, 1924, in Buena Vista, Georgia. She died in peace under the loving care of her favorite ‘daughter’ at 8:10 a.m. on Friday, July 21, 2017, in her ‘daughter’s’ Millersport, Ohio, home.
Jessie was 24 when she responded to an ad in The Dispatch for a house cleaner placed by John Walton Wolfe and Jo Ann Wallace Wolfe, who lived on Sherwood Road in Bexley. She was hired on the spot and moved into a mother-in-law suite at the back of the home to help raise the Wolfe’s first two children, Ann and Bobby. Memories fade over time, but Jessie later married and moved in with Eddie Brown. She continued to work for the Wolfe family and two more children, Tory and Doug, were born before the Wolfe’s moved to North Parkview Avenue.
Jessie was the first face all four children saw in the morning. She woke us, made us breakfast, got us dressed and off to the school before she starting taking care of the large house. She assumed nurse duties when any of us weren’t feeling well and stayed home from school. Her daily routine included cleaning the house and doing the dishes before descending into the basement where she was the queen of the Anvil. She ironed bed sheet after bed sheet, shirts, dresses and everything else in between. When 3 p.m. came, she was out the door to go home to her garden and kitchen.
John and Jo Wolfe were divorced in 1964, with Jo moving to Arizona. John moved to South Parkview Avenue, taking Jessie with him. She continued to work for John W. Wolfe until she retired in 1992 after 50 years of service. Jessie came out of retirement for three weeks in 1994 after John W. passed away.
Her ‘children’ visited her through the years and started returning her care in 1994.
My ‘mother’ was fiercely proud and had a right to be. She was a Godly, respectful, self-sufficient, independent, honest, hard-headed, private and dignified woman. Jessie was helpful and caring with unconditional love for the children and grandchildren she raised. She didn’t have any children of her own but would have been an excellent mother.
Jessie was funny and sarcastic. No matter what life handed her, she never complained. A favorite comment was, “Lord, I’m not complaining, I’m just explaining.” Macular degeneration took her eyesight in the late 90’s and she had to give up her driver’s license. That was a huge setback to her independence.
Even though she lived in Columbus for most of her life, Jessie never lost her Georgian southern drawl. She lived a quiet double life – one with the Wolfe family and the other with her much extended blood family. The two rarely met until her life was nearly over.
The loss of her brother, James, followed soon by the loss of her sister, Flossie, took a huge toll on her. She learned in 2012 that she had a mass on a lung and in 2016 knew instinctively cancer had spread to her brain.
Longevity runs in her family. She is survived by her 95-year-old brother, Richard; and her 78-yearold sister, Willie Mae. Jessie was just one month shy of her 93rd birthday. She wanted to reach 100.
It was a special privilege to spend the last couple weeks of her life with her in my home. I learned a lot in these last few weeks that I would have otherwise missed. Jessie brought me closer to God and demonstrated the meaning of hope. God picked a perfect flower on July 21. In my mind, I see Jessie standing with her arms around James and Flossie inside God’s Golden Gate, walking toward a beautiful garden with an outside kitchen. With her went the only unconditional love I have ever known.
This writer would like to thank John Smathers and Jessica and Sara from Hospice of Central Ohio for their compassion and care.