Jeanette May Foster French was born on May 31, 1924 in South Haven, Michigan. She was predeceased by her parents, Nancy Alice Brady Foster and Earl Louis Foster, sister Laura J. Holland, brother Clarence Quentin Foster, niece Jeanette Harkey, and nephew Kenneth Holland, Jr.
She entered the Gates of Heaven early in the morning on Monday, October 21, 2019.
Jeanette became a member of Emmanuel Community Church in South Haven at an early age. She graduated from South Haven High School in 1942 and furthered her educational studies at Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama. During her undergraduate tenure, Jeanette sang in the university choir, and she aided university staff as a work study student. Jeanette was initiated into the Chi (X) Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated on January 21, 1944. She was recognized as a Diamond Soror to celebrate her 75 years of service to the sorority in March 2019.
Jeanette graduated from Talladega College in 1946 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology. She further matriculated in her studies at the Atlanta University School of Social Work. Her professional career commenced in Greenville, South Carolina with the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center. She was later employed by the Urban League Organization in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Muskegon, Michigan.
Jeanette attended the Urban League Convention in Philadelphia, PA where she met and soon after married the late Robert Paul French, Jr. on February 20, 1954. They relocated to Pittsburgh, PA and were later blessed with one daughter, Stacye LaRue French.
Jeanette furthered her professional career in various roles with the City of Pittsburgh Juvenile Court Probation Office, Pittsburgh Public Schools as a Social Development Group Worker, Community Liaison, and a School Social Worker. Jeanette was also employed by Camp Fire Girls of America as an Inner-City Specialist. For several years she served as a Girl Scout Leader in her borough of Braddock Hills. She retired in 1986 from the Pittsburgh Board of Education as a Certified School Social Worker.
While residing in Pittsburgh, Jeanette was an active and dedicated member of Mount Olive Baptist Church, Rankin, PA. She served faithfully in the Senior Choir, taught Sunday School, and provided leadership of the church’s annual “International Holiday” program sponsored by The Educational Board. Jeanette was known for her rich alto voice and often sang “A and B” selections at local church teas and other programs.
Jeanette and Robert enjoyed traveling whenever and wherever possible. Some of her favorite destinations include St. Croix, Las Vegas, and the New England states. One of her most treasured trips was to The Vatican in Rome, Italy for a Beautification Ceremony where she actually shook hands with Pope John. She also visited Paris, the Eleuthera Islands, and Germany to attend the legendary Passion Play at Oberammergau.
Jeanette relocated to Virginia Beach, VA in October 2010 with Stacye and her son-in-love Michael Blue. As a woman of faith, Jeanette soon joined Second Calvary Baptist Church in Norfolk, VA where she served with the Cancer Support and Scholarship Committees as well as the Drama Ministry. Jeanette knew no strangers, and quickly established meaningful relationships with the Senior’s Ministry at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, and the “Forever Young” Senior’s Club at Bayside Recreation Center in Virginia Beach. Jeanette loved attending social and cultural events. She regularly attended concerts by The I. Sherman Greene Chorale, The Boys Choir of Hampton Roads, and The Booker T. Washington High School Alumni Choir.
Jeanette was very fond of cats and had them as pets often throughout her lifetime. She also had an extensive collection of camels. She made many herself in ceramic classes and received a variety of souvenir camels as gifts from the travels of her family and friends.
Jeanette was the personification of elegance, class, and sophistication. She had a warm, gentle spirit and was an inspiration to so many. Often strong-willed, and serious at times, she always maintained a no-nonsense, direct approach to life.
Jeanette enjoyed reading daily devotionals and the Bible every morning. She was also a generous contributor to various organizations to include the United Negro College Fund, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, the Union Mission, Samaritan’s Feet, and the Special Olympics.
It was no secret that Jeanette loved her family. She leaves to cherish her memory and carry out her legacy her daughter Stacye Blue (Michael); four grandchildren, Shannon Harris (Dean), Rashaad Blue (Nicole), Kamron Blue, and Jazmynne Blue (Anthony);
two great-granddaughters, Laila Marie Blue and Faith McKenzie Blue; her niece Naxie Holland; goddaughter Derietra Neal-Ferguson, West Palm Beach, FL, and numerous extended family members, sorority sisters, and friends.