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A Life Lived: Jean McQueen had a smile for everyone

BY ROZELLA HARDIN
Editorial Director
rozella.hardin@elizabethton.com
A warm smile can be derived in any language and often it sets the tone for the day. Jean McQueen knew how to deliver when it came to smiles. A smile was part of her everyday attire.
Virginia “Jean” McQueen had been a resident of Ivy Hall for almost two years. When I visited and stepped off the elevator and walked through the door to the second floor the first person I usually saw was Jean McQueen. And, she always had a smile and a kind word for me as well as for all others who visited that floor.
Jean, who would have been 98 next month, died August 13. She was the widow of Ivan McQueen. The couple had been married 76 years when he died in December 2017. “They were inseparable until his death. Where you seen one, you seen the other,” her son, Skip, said.
The two were married in 1941 and a year later he was drafted into the U.S. Army. She took Skip, only a few weeks old, and they went to live with Ivan’s family until the war was over and he came home. “They had dated four or five years before they got married. They walked from Blackbottom to a preacher’s house on Academy Street near First Free Will Baptist Church. That preacher married them,” said Skip.
Both Jean and Ivan worked at North American Rayon. “They worked the same shift and were off the same days most of the time,” said a sister-in-law, Virginia McQueen. “She was a fine person, a very kind person. She never learned to drive, so he took her to the beauty shop and waited for her. He, too, was a very patient and kind person.”
Both Ivan and Jean enjoyed sports, especially the Elizabethton Twins, and they attended almost all of the home games. Skip said his dad was 95 years old when he died. 
“Each year when the Twins’ season tickets went on sale, he would ask me to take them to the ballpark. When he and Mom attended the games, they usually sat in the top section. He wanted to see if he could climb up to the top section before he bought his ticket,” Skip said with a chuckle.
In addition to the summer ballgames, they enjoyed spending time on Watauga Lake and going to the Saturday evening car shows.
“My mother never met a stranger. She loved people and talking with them. And, she always took pride in her appearance,” Skip said.
He noted that during the shutdown at the nursing home last year due to the pandemic, it took a toll on his mother. “Before the pandemic I would take her out to get her hair cut and curled, to eat, and I was going almost every day. They were locked down almost a year, could not see their family or go out for even a haircut. It affected her more than anything. It was hard on her,” Skip said.
“She and dad formed a friendship with everyone they met, especially the people at the Twins’ ballgames and the car shows,” their son said.
Both Jean and her husband were long-time, faithful members of Elizabethton Church of Christ. In fact, her grandmother was one of the people who started the church. “They did it by holding prayer meetings in people’s homes and later a church was organized,” Skip shared. “My mother was faithful to her church until she fell and broke her hip and ended up in the nursing home. She had been a member of the church for probably over 70 years.
“Someone recently shared that often Mom and Dad would hold hands in church,” Glenn said, noting their long love affair with each other.
Jean’s sister-in-law, Virginia, shared that Jean was a good cook and enjoyed gardening. “She grew some beautiful flowers,” she said.
“I can’t say an unkind word about her. She was always kind to me and everybody. We had some good times together,” said Virginia.
Both Jean and Ivan retired from NAR. In addition to Skip, also known as Glenn, she was mother to Brenda Diane Nave, who preceded her and Ivan in death.
“Mom was a good mother. She was kind and loving and gave so much of herself to me and my sister. Her smile was her trademark. She had a smile for everyone and it was genuine. It reflected her love for people,” said Skip.
Today, Jean McQueen is at peace. COVID stole her smile and her life. But, not for long, as today she is smiling in Heaven.