I first met Jeanne when I interviewed her in 1969, when we bickered about salary and I hired her. She began working for me at Oneida National Bank in the Accounting Department. She filled a new accounts payable position and was responsible for reviewing invoices and expense accounts and preparing checks to pay them I signed the checks.
As time progressed she filled more than that position and became my personal, executive secretary. I would learn she was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on October 28, 1946. Her parents were Wilma Faye and Herman Edward Ballard. She graduated from Central High School in Tulsa and moved to California to live with an Uncle. She worked at Hunt-Wesson Foods in their accounts payable department . She moved to the Clinton area after meeting someone in California. The relationship did not work out, but she lived with his family for a while and retained a close relationship with the family. She worked elsewhere in the Utica area before I hired her at Oneida National Bank.
While we never shared a social relationship, we did spend a lot of time together working evenings and Saturdays on mergers, system conversions and Bank mergers showing a great deal of responsibility.
In 1989, my first wife passed away. Not wanting to live alone, in 1990 1 asked Jeanne to marry me. She was hesitant but asked a friend who advised "why not, take a chance". So we married on February 9, 1990. She became step-mother to my children, Susan and Mike Spina, Steven and his partner Jen Curcio, Gregory, Kelly and Steve Gassner and a special child Joseph Michael. Joe would describe Jeanne as his best friend. All the children would move out, including Joe, who moved first to a Catholic Charities group home and subsequently to a UCP group home. He attained a great deal of independence and maturity in both homes.
Jeanne retired in 2002 from Fleet Bank services, the resulting company of Oneida National, Norstar Bank mergers. She worked in Rome, New York in the payroll department that handled the payroll of the entire Fleet corp.
In retirement she enjoyed a very private home life sewing, a short stint of clay modeling, extensive scrapbooking and researching her family tree back to the 1800s.
She was diagnosed with aggressive lung cancer in February of this year and had adverse reactions to chemotherapy and radiology treatments. She succumbed in St. Luke Nursing Home. The family is grateful to the nursing staff at St. Luke's Hospital oncology unit and the staff at Clark West at St. Luke's nursing home for the excellent care that was provided to Jeanne during these last days.
Jeanne contemplated becoming a Catholic but kept putting it off. While in St. Luke's Hospital, Father Art Krawczenko discussed and offered to baptize her, but she said not yet. Finally, she asked to convert, and unfortunately Father Art was away, but Father Tom Servatius performed all the sacraments that seemed to bring a kind of relief and brightness to her immediately. I cannot praise these two shepherds of God for their kindness and understanding.
She is survived by her brother and his wife, Eddie and Bessie Ballard of Tulsa , Ok, a nephew and his wife, Jerad and Mindy Ballard and their children of Oklahoma, and another nephew and his wife, Matt and Julie Ballard and their children of Ohio.
A private mass for Jeanne will be held for family and a few friends at the family's convenience. It is typical to ask that in lieu of flowers contributions be made to some charitable group. I selfishly ask for prayers for Jeanne and me, and anyone wishing to make any contribution, make them to Sacred HeartSt Mary's Church, 201 Main St, New York Mills, NY 13417 for their renovation fund in Jeanne's name.
We knew each other for 50 years; we were married for 29 years. I guess the "take a chance" turned into a sure bet after all.