D. Geraldine “Gerry” Jenny, 99, of Southbury, passed away Jan. 6, with her family by her side after a very brief and sudden illness.
Mrs. Jenny was born in Paterson, N.J. to Dutch immigrants Nicolaas and Wilhelmina Van Daalen on Oct. 30, 1920. She had a smart and keen mind for someone who didn’t have a formal education past the 8th grade. Just because her parents felt she should end school and start work to help support her family didn’t mean that she was going to stop learning. She became self-taught and was never without a book to read; historical books and biographies were among her favorites. She believed in the value of always expanding your mind and encouraged her children to do the same.
She married the late Peter A. Jenny, who was the love of her life, on Feb. 15, 1946. They lived in Paterson, N.J.; Ridgewood, N.J.; Bedford, N.Y.; Woodbury, Roxbury and Southbury. In all of these locations they were the perfect team, building their own homes in New York and Connecticut; there was always a home project to be designed and completed, landscaping and gardens to create with Gerry being the master gardener for all these locations.
Mrs. Jenny is survived by five children: Dennis E. Jenny and wife, Joan, of Walden, N.Y.; Peter D. Jenny of Brookfield; Robert S. Jenny of Woodbury; Jean L. Robbins of Sherman, and Joan M. Barrett and husband, Patrick, of Hingham, Mass. She is also survived by nine grandchildren: Victoria and husband, John; Stephanie and husband, Darryl; David, Rebecca, Alyssa, Dustin, Patrick, Nicolaas and Katie; three great-grandchildren, Gabriella, Arthur and Dominic; sisters-in-law, Laurel and Yvonne, nephew Bruce and wife, Kathy; niece Pam and husband, Dennis; grand and great-grandnieces and nephews; forever daughters-in-law Suzanne Jenny and Terry Jenny. She is predeceased by her loving husband in May 2002, after 56 years of marriage, and her third son, Thomas M. Jenny in October 2015.
Mrs. Jenny was a young and vibrant 99-year-old who lived alone and still drove up until the end of her fabulous life; it was not uncommon for people to comment “You are not 99! I would have guessed you were 85.” She took pride in staying young; growing old was not her thing; sitting idle was also not her thing. Her children fondly remember years of vacationing on Cape Cod, in Orleans and Chatham, and every winter (starting in 1968) in Stowe, Vt. Learning to ski when she was 48 was no big deal and she embraced it; if her children were going to do it, so was she. Gerry and Peter continued to ski well into their 70s as members of the “70 Plus” ski club.
Mrs. Jenny was always volunteering her time, even while raising six children, whether it was the girl scouts, helping with boy scouts or volunteering at all the schools. Once the family moved to Connecticut, Gerry decided it was time to take her passion for gardening to another level and became a member of the Pomperaug Valley Garden Club and then the Southbury Garden Club. Both clubs awarded Gerry their Honorary Membership Award because of her decades of membership and service. During this time Gerry found her hidden talent of flower arranging and started to compete at the local and state level with numerous years at the Wadsworth Atheneum Annual Fine Art and Flowers Show — one of her pieces being published in a book written about Fine Art and Flower events across the country. Gerry’s own gardens were masterpieces in which she took great pride and a number of times were included in the local “Garden Tours.” Creativity was just something that ran naturally through her veins and her children always remember her learning something new, whether it was needlepoint, crewel, cross stitch, rug hooking; or then in her late 70s, fine art, colored pencil and watercolor. She loved creating something personal and special for friends and loved ones celebrating a special occasion.
Mrs. Jenny was also very passionate about music, played piano and encouraged her children to learn an instrument. She believed in the value of the arts being offered throughout all years of schooling. Her grandchildren valued her keen mind and the information she could share about the significant historical events she lived through; they have said going to see “Grandma” or “Mimi” was like their own personal history class — an up close and personal perspective on an era.
Arrangements have been made by Munson-Lovetere Funeral Home in Woodbury. Memorial Mass will be held on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 11 a.m. at St. Teresa’s Church, 146 Main Street S., Woodbury with a reception to following in the Church Hall. Burial will be on Monday, Feb. 17, at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne, Mass. next to her husband (time to be determined and will be announced at the Memorial Mass). In lieu of flowers people can make donations to The Wounded Warrior Project in honor of her brother, Ernest M. Van Daalen, whom the family lost during World War II. To leave an online condolence for the family, please visit www.munsonloveterefuneralhome.com.