Missing my friend
I would like to pay tribute and dedicate this column to the late Jean McManus.
I first met Ms. Jean, I’m guessing, in 2008 here at work. Ms. Jean had dropped by The Eunice News. I cannot recall the reason why she popped in, but I’m thinking it was to speak to our editor. And, If I can remember correctly, it was not to criticize, or complain about the newspaper, for her visit. She normally had compliments for The Eunice News.
I can always remember her telling my editor and myself, “I love our small town newspaper. I read every article on every page of the paper. I want to commend you for doing great work.” Then normally she would tell my editor, then and now, “You have a great lady there,” and she would point at me at my desk.
Ms. Jean will always remember, and numerous times tell me, and I’m not trying to brag on myself or the newspaper, about her nomination and winning the 2009 Blue Cross Blue Shield Angel Award.
I nominated her for the Angel Award. My editor, back then, asked if I knew someone in Eunice who would fit or qualify all the nomination requirements, which involved someone who volunteers, goes above and beyond, has great communication with the community, has a project, etc. I immediately thought of Ms. Jean and her statewide project, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Ms. Jean won the Blue Cross Blue Shield Angel Award, among many others in the state of Louisiana. She won a $20,000 grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Angel Award.
We made the trip together in November of 2009 to Baton Rouge to the awards ceremony of Blue Cross Blue Shield. She was so excited during the entire trip to Baton Rouge. She insisted on driving, and I let her. (lol). We got lost for a brief moment in Baton Rouge trying to find our destination. I can remember her telling me, “Don’t worry. We will find it.” After that evening I learned fast to become patient and understanding with Ms. Jean.
Through the past years, and until a few weeks before she died, Ms. Jean would randomly make a visit to The Eunice News. I had noticed during the past few years of her declining health, however, she was usually in good spirits, and rarely complained to me. She always thought of me during her visits at my work. She usually asked how I was and how my family was. She always remembered my birthday in July, but got confused on the actual date. On a past birthday, Ms. Jean sent me a beautiful silk summer floral arrangement. It sits on my work desk, and as I look at it each day at work, I fondly think of Ms. Jean.
I made fast friends with Ms. Jean. I think of her often. She will be truly missed and I would like to say to her, “Fly High Ms. Jean, and I truly believe you are reading storybooks to all the children there.”
Jean McCormick McManus passed away on Thursday, June 13, at the age of 88.