Memorial to  Jean


by Charles Crow




April 6, 2007

Sad news this morning. I regret to report that Jean passed away at approximately 12:45 a.m. today. 

I spoke to her daughter, Chris early today who said they were all relieved that she was no longer suffering. Her final days were very difficult for her and for her family. Sherry would have posted this but asked me to write this on her behalf.  Funeral arrangements are not firm due to the Easter weekend, but according to her cousin, Simon Bookout, services will be at Immanuel Baptist in Little Rock at 10:00 a.m., but the day is not set yet. It will more than likely be on Monday, but that has not been decided. Burial will be in the Rector cemetery in the afternoon following the funeral. I will pass on the latest when I know more.

Jean Holifield Miles was first and foremost a nurturing soul, who always saw the best in everyone she knew. Her personality was ever sunny and bright, and she was optimistic to her core. She always seemed to accept people as they were, and her optimism had no bounds.  Jean was passionately protective of her family and friends, and was willing to sacrifice almost anything to help others in need. Even in her darkest moments, Jean always worried more about the needs of others than she ever was about herself. She was probably the most unselfish, giving person I have ever known.

This is a terrible loss to all who knew her. We can take comfort in the wonderful memory of her radiant personality, spontaneous laughter and an abiding confidence that things would be better. To know Jean was to know the essence of a loving spirit.  No matter how long she was away, Jean never lost her love and affection for all things connected to Rector. It is fitting that she will be returned to her native Rector soil.  She was sorely missed at our last class reunion--at the time she had an injury that had prevented her from coming. It is ironic that this occasion led to a closer physical examination that revealed the presence of the cancer that eventually took her. 

I was fortunate to spend a few moments with her from time to time when she felt good enough after chemotherapy or surgery to have outside visitors. Even though she had lost her hair, and was fighting the tubes and devices used in chemotherapy, she never complained, even when she was very uncomfortable. She even managed to make a joke about being bald, and a look into those expressive eyes told you she really did think it was funny, even with the underlying concern. She fought the cancer every step of the way, and set an example of courage for us all.

She rarely talked about what might be over the next hill, but it seemed clear to me that she was prepared for whatever was waiting.  We can honor Jean by remembering her valiant passion for living life to its fullest, for her interest in the needs of others, and for her sweet and cheerful optimism. Few of us can be as generous in spirit as Jean was, but she left a wonderful model to follow.  Our good friend is gone, but she remains with us all forever.




About the Background Music


Pete Seeger helped to make this song fairly well-known in the folk-revival. He learned it from Doris Plenn, who had it from her North Carolina family.  Below are some of the verses to this song.  The song received new prominence in 1991 when Irish singer Enya released a recording of the hymn on her album Shepherd Moons that brought the hymn back into prominence.  I think she is singing the background music.


How can i keep from singing

Words & Music by Robert Lowry, 1860.

My life flows on in endless song 
Above earth's lamentation. 
I hear the real, thought far off hymn 
That hails the new creation 
Above the tumult and the strife, 
I hear the music ringing; 
It sounds an echo in my soul 
How can I keep from singing? 

What through the tempest loudly roars, 
I hear the truth, it liveth. 
What through the darkness round me close, 
Songs in the night it giveth. 
No storm can shake my inmost calm 
While to that rock I'm clinging. 
Since love is Lord of Heaven and earth 
How can I keep from singing? 

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear, 
And hear their death-knell ringing, 
When friends rejoice both far and near, 
How can I keep from singing? 
In prison cell and dungeon vile 
Our thoughts to them are winging. 
When friends by shame are undefiled, 
How can I keep from singing?

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earthís lamentation
I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my souló
How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round!
Songs in the night He giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of Heavín and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

I lift mine eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smoothes
Since first I learned to love it:
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing:
All things are mine since I am Hisó
How can I keep from singing?

Peter Seeger 

Pete Seeger born May 3, 1919 is almost universally known as a folk singer, political activist, and author.  As a member of the Weavers, he had a string of hits, including a 1949 recording of Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene" that topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950...

He is perhaps best known today as the author or co-author of the songs "Where Have All the Flowers Gone", "If I Had a Hammer", and "Turn, Turn, Turn", which have been recorded by many artists both in and outside the folk revival movement and are still sung throughout the world.  "Flowers" was a hit recording for The Kingston Trio, Marlene Dietrich, who recorded it in English, German and French (1962), and Johnny Rivers. "If I Had a Hammer" was a hit for Peter, Paul & Mary and Trini Lopez, while The Byrds popularized "Turn, Turn, Turn" in the mid-1960s.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.



Web Page Prepared and Maintained by Gary McClure