Jean White, 86, educator, artist, author and for decades a major presence in Woodstock community affairs, passed away on August 29, leaving a legacy of kindness and inspired public engagement. A member of a pioneer family in Woodstock, Jean was a trustee of the Woodstock Historical Society, a pillar of Woodstock Meals on Wheels, a member of the village planning committees, and a pillar of the Woodstock Christian Science Church, of which she was clerk. , church reader, Sunday school teacher, librarian and reading room attendant.
After her passing, she is remembered at an impromptu gathering of church members, friends and relatives as a woman of compassion and endless giving. Attendees talked about her incomparable pies and Christmas cookies, and stories were exchanged of times she comforted and counseled those in distress or lent a helping hand. City dwellers without a car who needed to go to the doctor, the supermarket or the airport could count on Jean to drive them. If a neighbor’s plumbing failed, their home’s tub and shower were available. His caring nature was expressed in his tireless charitable work and his opposition to reckless overdevelopment at Woodstock. In support of environmental and other causes, she was a signature force on petitions, placards and speeches.
John was a woman of deep faith and spiritual strength. In her later years, she suffered heavy losses: her husband, George Covey, who worked alongside her in efforts to preserve what makes Woodstock special and whose passion she shared for Shakespeare and the British Isles; her brother, John (Buddy) White, who phoned her for her special recipes from wherever in her RV trips and to whom she was like a second mother; and, most recently, his beloved daughter, Alison Eriksen, a talented sculptor whose death at age 55 left a huge hole in Jean’s life. This spring there was a month-long exhibition on the work of the Woodstock Historical Society of Alison. From the Riverdale, New York nursing home where Jean spent her final months, she oversaw the show, consulting her sister, Susan Kirshenbaum, and Deborah Heppner of the Historical Society on a daily basis on what to include and other details. . Although Jean was unable to attend the show in person, his love for Alison and his pride in her work shines through.
Jean was the author of a thin memory, Sarah from Overlook Mountain, which she illustrated with her own delightful watercolors depicting the world of long ago Woodstock. The book chronicles the life of her great-great-grandmother Betsy Booth, a Woodstock herbalist born shortly after the War of Independence who traveled for miles to heal the sick with her supply of bark, leaves and roots, but it focuses on Jean’s grandmother, Sarah. MacDaniel Cashdollar, a renowned artist from Woodstock who opened the village’s first restaurant and for many years owned the Homestead Pension on what is now Mill Hill Road. As a daughter, Sarah lived on Overlook, working on her parents’ dairy farm, milking the family’s 25 cows at 4 a.m. and again in the afternoon. Jean relates that young Sarah drove a horse-drawn milk cart on icy mountain roads and on one occasion had a fight with a black bear trying to get the milk. “There were strong women in these generations,” writes Jean.
She herself was such a woman. When friends called Jean and she didn’t pick up immediately, it was just assumed that she was cleaning the gutters on her roof or carrying other logs from her woodpile for the cast iron stove. from his living room.
Growing up in Woodstock, Jean developed a love of poetry and art, was a mainstay on the Woodstock women’s basketball team, and worked as a waitress at Deanie’s. She graduated in Arts Education from the Pratt Institute and SUNY New Paltz. She was a first year teacher on the Hopi Indian Reservation in Arizona, worked for the United States Army Special Services in Germany, and was an elementary art teacher for over 25 years in New Jersey and Kingston. She was a prolific painter, following in the footsteps of her grandmother and another well-known Woodstock artist in the family, Clarence Bolton, husband of Jean’s aunt, Louise Cashdollar Bolton, prominent as the owner of long date from Red Barn Antiques. .
In Sarah from Overlook Mountain, Jean says that she lived as a child in front of the farm and that she observed the comings and goings of her grandmother’s guests. “I loved watching the artists paint the view of Overlook Mountain from the adjacent Frank Bradley meadow, the actors rehearse their roles on the porch for the next production at the Woodstock Playhouse and the writers and musicians were at work in swings and garden chairs under the big maple trees. “
Jean is survived by the sister she loved very much, his brother-in-law Jerry Kirshenbaum, his niece Tracy (Steven) Foxx, his nephew David (Lisa Schwebke) Kirshenbaum, his daughter-in-law Claudette Covey, his son-in-law Robert Eriksen and his cousins Velma Cashdollar Grazier and Eileen Mosher. Memoirs can be made to the Woodstock Historical Society, to which Jean directed all the profits of Sarah from Overlook Mountain.
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