Obituary: Jeanne Chamberlain
Beloved matriarch, teacher, dancer, Christmas tree farm visionary
Jeanne Chamberlain’s life was concluded on Tuesday, September 14 after a four-plus year battle with ovarian cancer.
Born and raised in Southern California, she spent the last 40 years of her life in Claremont. A devoted wife, mother, teacher and friend to all she knew and loved, Jeanne put her heart and soul into everything she did.
Born with a gift for creativity and artistic expression, she began dancing—one of the greatest loves of her life—at Alhambra High School, where she was a drill team captain. She and her two other captains spent countless hours choreographing dance routines for the 120 member drill team to perform at halftime at sporting events. They even did one routine to “Light my Fire,” by The Doors, complete with strobe lights. She loved to dance, taking tap, ballet, jazzercise, yoga, Pilates and line dancing classes her entire adult life, right up until a month prior to her passing.
After high school she worked at several Los Angeles County governmental agencies, including the agricultural commissioner’s office, where she met her future husband Eric Chamberlain. They were married May 29, 1982.
She attended Cal Poly Pomona, where she earned a bachelor’s of science degree and then her California teaching credential before taking time off to raise her two boys, Alex and Brent. She then spent the rest of her career teaching third grade at Mt. View School District in Ontario. It was obvious to all who knew her that these were some of the happiest and rewarding times of her life. Times spent with her young boys revolved around “mommy and me,” volunteering at day care, and just the three of them being able to do things at home.
She had a wonderful ability to envision great ideas at her home: the first, to build a dream home on their Claremont property, was completed in 1985. Next was the “crazy idea” to start a “choose and cut” Christmas tree farm on the property, which opened in November 1991. This November will mark its 31st year in operation.
Over the next 30 years she was able to do what most mothers dream of—taking her kids to school, attending sporting events, field trips, hosting birthday parties, designing and making holiday (especially Halloween!) costumes and clothes, and traveling with her family. Frequent trips to the family cabin in the mountains of southern Utah were particularly joyous times spent with grandparents and family.
Her long battle with cancer revealed two major obstacles that cancer victims often encounter: one, the need to demand medical records and transcripts from the hospital records offices to ensure their accuracy; and, two: the need for post-menopausal women to demand yearly vaginal ultrasounds to help with the early detection of ovarian cancer. She advocated tirelessly to address and correct these important issues.
“Courageous and compassionate to the end, Jeanne’s concern and care for others never waned despite her painful battle with cancer,” her family shared. “No matter the problem or issue, Jeanne tried to help those around her wherever, and however, she could. She is sorely missed.”
“Next to God, we are indebted to women, first for life itself, and then for making it worth living.” – Mary McLeod Bethune: educator, founder of Bethune-Cookman College.
In lieu of flowers, please make a memorial donation to your favorite charity.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, October 9.