Jean W. Henze, of Needham, passed away peacefully at home on December 16, 2021 at the age of 95. Pre-deceased by her beloved husband of 60 years, Richard “Rit” Henze, Jean is survived by her three daughters: Sheryl of New York City, Sharon of Needham, and Sandra Coyle of Costa Mesa, California; grandsons Chris Coyle and his wife Taylor, and Mike Coyle; great- granddaughter Paige Jean Coyle, and many nieces and nephews.
Born in Albany, New York, the only child of Winnie Pendleton Williams and Leslie Aaron Williams, Jean attended Albany Academy for Girls and graduated from Ridgewood High School (NJ) and Wheaton College (MA) where she majored in French. Jean cherished her memories of her junior year abroad in Geneva where her group members were among the first “Staties” allowed to travel to Europe after World War II.
After college, Jean used her French language skills as a translator and editor in New York City. During this time she met her future husband at activities organized by the West Side Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood for returning veterans. After a brief courtship, they were married in that same church in 1951.
After moving to Massachusetts due to Rit’s job promotion, they started their family and remained in Needham for over 60 years. Jean was active in supporting her children’s musical and sporting activities and along the way, she and her husband became rabid Celtics fans, a passion that continued to the end of her life.
Some of Jean’s favorite family times were spent at their lakeside cottage in New Hampshire where everyone enjoyed swimming, boating, hiking and badminton. Rainy days brought highly competitive Scrabble, Monopoly, and card games where Jean was often the winner well into her later years. Jean was the family loonatic- constantly monitoring the resident loon family and listening to their plaintive calls echo across the cove.
In retirement, Jean and Rit wintered in Sarasota Florida close to many of Rit’s relatives. There they enjoyed the glorious sunsets from their lanai, long walks on Turtle Beach and time spent with Rit’s siblings and their families.
Jean always returned to Needham and continued to live there with her daughter Sharon after her husband died. Jean was thrilled to celebrate her 95th birthday this past October on her back porch with her entire family, including six week old great-granddaughter Paige Jean.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Jean’s memory may be made to VNA Hospice & Palliative Care, via www.vnacare.org.
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