Things were different when Jean White, born in 1918, grew up in a family along with three other sisters. At the turn of the century, options for women were usually limited to being a teacher or nurse, getting married, and raising children. But for Jean, she never let the lack of choices hold her back.
Jean was the first resident to move into Juniper Village at Chatham when it opened its doors thirteen years ago. At 95 she is still quick-witted, not afraid to speak her mind, and as interesting as ever. Although unassuming and reluctant at first to share her illustrious history, she is anything but usual, both in the paths she has taken and her commitment to others to play it forward.
Jean attended Duke University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1940 with a degree in English. She went on to pursue a graduate degree in library science. She subsequently cut her studies short after the United States entered World War 2 when her father encouraged her and her three sisters to sign up for WAVES, or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. Initiated in 1942, WAVES grew out of the need for additional military personnel during the war.
Jean first underwent training with other WAVES’ enrollees at Smith College, where she graduated first in her cohort. She then relocated to Manhattan, where she held a top secret job in the U.S. Naval Office of Cable Censorship, censoring any suspicious communications. It was through her service in the military that, in 1943, she met and soon thereafter married Lupton White. Together they raised three sons
Jean credits the navy with teaching her that she could do anything she set her mind to, and she took that lesson to heart. While her kids were growing up, Jean worked as a librarian, surrounded by the books she loved so much. Not content with the usual duties of a librarian, she augmented her responsibilities by teaching children at the library how to read and write. Her love of helping children extended to her church, where she spent years volunteering in Sunday school, teaching religious classes and bible study. And during her many years at Juniper Village at Chatham, she has served as a new resident ambassador, started a drive to collect soda can tops to support the Ronald McDonald House, participated in the communities annual food drive, and is Chatham’s only resident bird feeder!
Jean is a shining example of all that we value here at Juniper Communities, a woman with a generous heart who is always there to give others a helping hand.