Eilene Whitt Jessup

I remember the first time I saw my daughter Hollie sing in public. It wasn’t the first time I had heard her warble like a baby song bird because, like her mama, she sang all the time…while playing with her toys, in the bathtub, walking to the park, in the backseat of that old Pontiac to the radio which were likely totally inappropriate songs for a small child to be listening to. She had a beautiful voice I used to proudly tell myself which was no surprise because DNA. Then one Sunday evening, standing in front of an audience with her Bible School choir, at the encouragement of her teacher, little Hollie stepped up to a microphone and sang the sweetest little chorus ALL BY HERSELF!!!

When I am afraid I will TRUST in You

I will TRUST in You

I will TRUST in You

When I am afraid I will TRUST in You

In Your Word I praise…

And I literally burst into tears because…MY BABY GIRL!!! And OMG I had no idea she was going to sing a solo!!! And MY BABY GIRL!!!

I will never forget that moment, as mothers do.

I will also not soon forget the wonderful woman who gave Hollie the wink and nod as she encouraged her to sing the song that she taught her. I met Eilene shortly before Hollie was born. Her calming presence coupled with her quick wit was something I couldn’t help be drawn to. As time passed, most of our time together was spent with music…so much music because we both loved music. But beyond the music there was Eilene encouraging, mentoring all with positive kindness. When I thanked Eilene for the wonderful surprise that was Hollie’s solo, she smiled and told me that she couldn’t imagine anyone else who could emphasize that we must TRUST the way that little Hollie did.

Eilene was the kind of person who led, taught, loved, encouraged by example. Always patient. Always kind.

When I was a young mother trying to balance marriage, mommy-life and career, Eilene was an example to me as a woman who successfully balanced her life as wife, mom, grandmother (which all who knew her knew she was overjoyed adding that title) and business woman. She had a busy travel agency. in San Jose…back in the day before we all could research, plan and book our own travel thanks to the interwebs. When I planned MY very first trip to Disneyland…and Hollie’s and Zoë’s…Eilene was who I turned to. She offered all kinds of advice and options that would work for our little family while we vacationed with our kindergartener and 9 month old and she created what was the most wonderful first real family vacation package for us at Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, San Diego Wild Animal Park and a few other points of interest along the way. The cherry on top was the lovely, welcome to our vacation card from her waiting for us at the front desk of the hotel where we stayed during our juggling away from home adventure. Upon our return, when I thanked her for helping to plan such  wonderful family memories she smiled and thanked me back saying she just wanted it to be something special for us.

Earlier this week, after a life well lived, Eilene passed away. Naturally with someone as special as she, the tributes literally flooded my social media stream. With someone as special as she this was no surprise. I have read them all so far and have found myself even more fond of someone who truly was an example for anyone on how to live a life and truly succeed.

Blessing and love, Eilene! Thank you for your inspiration, guidance and, always, your love.

Eilene Whitt Jessup, May 16, 1936 – January 25, 2016



4 thoughts on “Eilene Whitt Jessup

  1. What a wonderful and touching tribute, Laura. Thank you. Your words literally gave me chills as I read them and remembered how gracious and kind and fun Eilene was. I hadn’t heard this sad news, so thank you for sharing. I especially loved reading why she chose Hollie to do the “trust” solo (and, yes, I remember Hollie singing it. I helped Eilene with the choir once upon a time.)

    • Aw, Kim! I am sorry that you had to hear this way. She really was a great person in so many ways.
      Her daughter Jennell has been posting on Eilene’s FB page through her last days. Here is what she posted about services:

      Mom’s Celebration Service is going to be February 20, 2016 @ 2:00pm At Central Christian Church | San Jose CA , 2555 Meridian Ave San Jose CA 95124.
      In lieu of flowers or gifts, Donation can be given to the William Jessup Scholarship Fund in Eilene Jessup’s name.
      This is the link to donate to William Jessup Scholarship Fund in memory of Eilene Jessup in lieu of flowers and gifts.
      thank you
      This page will allow a person to give online. Please tell the donor to click “other” in the “gift designation” box and another box will pop up and they write in “for the William Jessup Endowed Scholarship Fund in memory of Eilene Jessup ” and we will make sure it is deposited into the William Jessup Endowed Scholarship Fund adding to that fund for future generations.
      Also, checks can be made out to WJU and marked with the same info in the memo line, and sent to 2121 University Ave. Rocklin, CA 95765.

      • I appreciated hearing the news from you and in such a touching way, so no apologies necessary. Because of you I was able to share the news with my mom, who hadn’t heard yet. Thanks for the additional info.

      • thank you and you are very welcome! Tell your mama I said hello. Your folks always were the sweetest! If schedule permits I am hoping to attend the memorial to celebrate Eilene but also enjoy seeing folks from Central.

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