PORTSMOUTH – Jeanne Mussman Marcus died on July 11, 2023, at age 91.
Funeral services were held on July 13, 2023.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Jeanne and her parents moved to Portsmouth, Va., when she was four years old, to be near her mother’s siblings. Her parents opened a corner grocery store, and Jeanne felt lucky to grow up with a large group of local cousins. When she was seven years old, her brother, Bert, was born, and she became like a third parent to him.
Jeanne attended Portsmouth public schools, graduating from Wilson High School in 1948 and assembling a large group of lifelong friends along the way. In 1952, she graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English and began her 35-year teaching career in Portsmouth. At a social event at the Norfolk JCC, Jeanne met Julius Marcus and they hit it off! After she and Julius married in 1954, they settled in Portsmouth and raised two daughters. Jeanne and Julius were married for 62 years until his death in 2017.
Influenced by a friend during her school years, Jeanne became both an avid reader and a passionate proponent of the value of reading. In fact, one of her favorite poems was Strickland Gillilan’s The Reading Mother, which ends with the lines, “Richer than I you can never be – I had a mother who read to me.” So important was this to Jeanne that she went on to earn a master’s degree as a reading specialist. Over the years, she participated in several book clubs and even started a Jewish short story club.
In retirement, Jeanne finally had the leisure to indulge her innate creativity and interest in fine arts. She took classes in painting and glass blowing at the TCC Visual Arts Center and became a master gardener.
Almost by accident, Jeanne began growing roses and this became her primary activity in retirement; she nurtured dozens of rose bushes, all different varieties, and became an active member of the Tidewater Rose Society. She created the most gorgeous arrangements from her bountiful crop! Jeanne delivered these magnificent creations to anyone who “needed” one, such as a friend with a birthday or a neighbor in the hospital. The Van Wyck branch of the Norfolk Public Library was a frequent recipient of these lovely and deliciously fragrant bouquets.
Jeanne made her famous chicken soup for all the Jewish holiday meals and volunteered in the kitchen at Congregation Beth El. With her eye for design, she advised family and friends on their fashion and decorating choices and was apt to burst into just the right song for every occasion.
Jeanne’s mantra was that kindness is the most important quality. She never complained about her circumstances and often remarked, “It’s better to be known for your likes than your dislikes.” After a serious accident, her spirit was unbowed, and she continued to help and support others even as her body began to fail her.
Jeanne was predeceased by her parents, Jack and Kate Mussman, and her husband, Julius Marcus.
She will be remembered and loved forever by her brother Bert Mussman (Carol); her daughters Margie Marcus and Leslie Marcus Auerbach (Andrew); and her granddaughters, Rebecca and Katie.
Contributions to Congregation Beth El or a favorite charity. Online condolences at hdoliver.com.