Jean L. Mecartney died peacefully on October 24, 2022 at the age of 92 in Alexandria, VA.
Jean is survived by three children, Karen Hartman (Donal), WA, Steven Mecartney (Heidi), VA,
and Paul Mecartney (Jeanne Russell), WI; five grandchildren, Julia Joyce (John Neisz), AZ, Eric
Joyce (Cora Barrett), TX, Dennis Joyce (Brianna), MT, Samantha and Stephanie Mecartney, VA; a
great grandchild, Anton Neisz, AZ; a brother John Acker (Patricia) TX, numerous nieces and
nephews and their children, and many dear friends.
Jean was born in Denver CO to Steven and Gladys Acker. She was predeceased by her parents,
husband Bruce Mecartney, a brother George, and a great grandchild, Rose.
Born into a long line of spirited women, Jean spoke her mind and stood up for what she
believed in. As a child, she provided defense for her two younger brothers when necessary,
something of which she was quite proud. She also taught her children to stand up for
themselves, but to always be polite; she was insistent on good manners and correct grammar,
legacies carried forward by her children and grandchildren. Jean broke school desegregation
picket lines in New York in the 1960’s and took her family to multiple anti-war protests in the
Jean began her college career at the University of Denver, and received her B.A. from the
University of Colorado in Boulder, where she met Bruce who was from Chicago. They were
married in 1953 and began a life of many adventures, travel, and the making of lifelong friends.
Jean and Bruce lived in Fort Worth while Bruce was in the Air Force, and subsequently made
their home in Philadelphia, London, Minneapolis, and New York. In 1965 the family moved to
India, a period in their lives that later served as the subject of Jean’s many entertaining
“Calcutta days” stories. Jean thrived in India, where she loved to swim, golf, ride, and play
tennis. Jean was tenacious: when she fell off a horse, she remounted. After several years of
riding, she won a race on her favorite mare, Bhagaya Rekha. Jean continued to swim and play
tennis for much of her life. She regularly did laps at the community recreation center pool in
the winter and her condominium complex pool well into her 80’s. When she could no longer
play tennis, she followed players through Wimbledon and other tournaments, shouting,
cheering, and occasionally groaning, depending on the players and the play. She remained
engaged with the game, commenting on Serena Williams’ final match this past summer.
A voracious reader, Jean relished a good conversation about books, loved The New Yorker
magazine, and was always on the lookout for the next good read. She followed current events,
clipped newspapers and magazine articles of interest for family and friends, and tuned into
Jeopardy most evenings. Jean loved music, concerts, and art. While travelling, the family visited
galleries and museums in numerous cities, and more recently she made trips to several special
exhibits in the D.C area.
For many years Jean held birthday parties for herself, to which she invited many friends and
nearby family members. These parties, her annual Kentucky Derby party – complete with a
bookie and mint juleps – and the Super Bowl party became a tradition at River Towers, where
Jean lived for many years. She also loved parties in Calcutta, where she wore elegant dresses
for formal functions and elaborate costumes that she and Bruce created for Halloween. As Jean
often said of others she was fond of, “She was a lot of fun”.
After leaving Calcutta, the family lived in New Jersey, Virginia, and overseas posts in Nepal and
Bangladesh – the latter where Jean worked for an international cholera research laboratory.
After Bruce’s death in 1981, Jean continued to move around and travel. She worked for an
international health organization in Boston and then for the Asia Foundation in San Francisco,
from which she retired in the mid-1990s. She visited her sons and daughters in-law in many
overseas locations, and spent many years in Vermont to be close to her daughter, son in-law,
and grandchildren. She eventually settled in Alexandria where she enjoyed her garden and
many good times with friends and family.
Jean was a remarkable woman who lived an adventurous, full, and interesting life. She
remained active until late in life, and always opted for the walk rather than the ride. Challenges
were met with a charge to buck up and that is what she did, always moving forward with a stiff
upper lip. Jean was a good mother and a good friend. She was loved.