A graduate of Springfield High School, Jean studied journalism at Boston University and physical education at Castleton State College, as well as participating in numerous workshops and instructional programs. She earned an associate degree in human services at the Community College of Vermont.
Jean was active in local organizations and government. She served for more than 25 years on the Springfield Board of Civil Authority including 19 years as a Justice of the Peace. And she served on the Springfield Select Board, 1987-1996, including terms as vice chair and chair. From 1994 to 1998 she served as Vermont District Representative on the Vermont-New Hampshire Solid Waste Executive Committee, serving as vice chair and chair. She served four years on the school board and was a founder of the Windsor County Select Board Association. She was honored for her court diversion work. In addition, Jean did extensive volunteer work for 4-H, Girl Scouts, the Red Cross and others.
Jean was dedicated to the North Springfield Baptist Church. She was a Sunday School teacher, youth director, camp director and member of the Christian Education Committee. Jean was especially proud of having created and nurtured the Interpretive Choir that incorporated dance into the church’s worship. She honored her late husband’s memory by completing her written history of the church, a goal the Willards had shared.
Reflecting on her life, Jean was proudest of episodes when she stood up against injustice. As a little girl, she jumped from a stair landing to beat up a bully who was picking on a smaller child. As teenagers, she and her brother walked out of their dancing lesson when the teacher barred a girl of color from the class. In college, she spoke up to defend a Jewish girl from a bigoted house mother. More recently she led the successful effort to have the North Springfield Baptist Church welcome GLTB members.
She was predeceased by her husband, Harold. She is survived her brother, Robert C. Follette Jr. of Amherst, Massachusetts; and by her four children and their spouses, Steve and Peggy Willard of North Springfield, Richard Willard and Richard Nault of Greenfield, Massachusetts, Cynthia Metcalf and Sen. Dick McCormack of Bethel, Vermont and Brenda and Steve Wells of St. Johnsbury, Vermont; six grandchildren, Nathan Willard, Steve Willard, Alex Metcalf, Ben Metcalf, Emily Metcalf and Wayne Johnson; six great-grandchildren, Starr and Summer Willard, Elliana Cook, Charlotte and William Metcalf, and Riley and Lillianna Johnson.
Visiting hours are from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, March 25, followed by services at 11 a.m. and a reception, all at the North Springfield Baptist Church. Reverend George Keeler Pastor will officiate. In lieu of flowers, donations in Jean’s memory can be sent to the North School Preservation Society, P.O. Box 107 North Springfield, VT 05150 ( nsps.awardspace.us ); The North Springfield Baptist Church (The Willard Scholarship Fund), P.O. Box 23, North Springfield, VT 05150; or Valley Court Diversion Program, P.O. Box 474, White River Junction, VT 05501.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Davis Memorial Chapel in Springfield.
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