J eannette Hayes, the first child of Louisa and Theodore Miller, was born on December 8, 1919. Her earliest years were spent in the Arbutus area with close-knit German parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and neighbors. They were there for each other through disasters, like The Great Depression, war, illness, the loss of work and home. During these years, Jeannette learned about generosity, unconditional love, and the importance of family, fun and friends.
Jeannette became big sister to brothers Theodore, Edward, and Paul, developed life-long friends, completed an elementary education at the Ascension Catholic School, and received a business degree from Fourteen Holy Martyr’s School. This experience served Jeannette later when she worked in “accounts receivable” for several Baltimore businesses and served as president of Baltimore’s Credit Women’s Club
She also learned the value of economizing and planning for the future. During the depression, several Miller relatives, and a widow from the old neighborhood, were now living with them at the Washington Blvd. store in Halethorpe. They all worked at the bakery/gas station/auto repair and parts garage/grocery business. In addition, they sold meals to passing truckers and did delivery of eggs and meat. In her late teens, Jeannette supplemented her family’s income by sewing clothes and working at Hutzler’s downtown Baltimore store decorating cakes.
These years weren’t all work. Jeannette made time for fun with her family and friends. Making conversation was one of her greatest skills. Many of these relationships lasted for decades and state or country boundaries were never a barrier for visiting. She developed a love of swimming, bowling, card games, and traveling. She loved writing and getting mail and saved every card/letter/postcard that she ever received. Jeannette grew up in the tradition of taking pictures of everything and had a collection of thousands of photos. During one of Jeannette’s teen-gatherings with friends, she found romance and fell in love. Marriage followed courtship.
On a beautiful October 6, 1941, Mary Jeannette Miller became Mrs. Paul Hayes. She made the wedding cake, the wedding gowns, and N. Y. honeymoon clothes. It was a marriage of 59 years, strengthened by renewal vows, and blessed with: 2 children: Janice Mueller (Michael) & Michael Hayes (Linda Wellborn);
4 grandchildren: Jennifer Mueller, Kathleen Benedict, Joshua Mueller, Michelle Crifasi; and 8 great grandchildren: Zackery & Emily Benedict, Maya Shute, Francesca, Kate & Eve Mueller, Tony & Kaitlyn Crifasi.
The young marriage was immediately interrupted by Paul’s World War II service. During those years, Jeannette, and baby Janice, born before Paul left, lived with the Millers. Built-in brother or parent babysitters allowed Jeannette to work in the family stores. After Paul was discharged from the U.S. Army, second-child Michael was born and the first of 2 houses in Halethorpe was purchased. Jeannette now used her talents to be the glue that kept together the relationships from family, church, work, school, charity, and neighborhood.
After Paul’s death in 2000, Jeannette set a new goal: she would live to be 100. She moved to a Charlestown Senior Living studio apartment, briskly walked across campus to attend daily Mass, played cards, learned to use a computer, joined groups, helped manage Treasurer Sale, received volunteer medals, and joked that she: “helped the Old People”. She beat pneumonia, a leg infection, cancer twice. and a broken hip. Finally, December 8,2019 arrived and Jeannette proudly celebrated her 1OOth Birthday with family and friends. It seemed like she could live forever. It was not to be.
After several falls, confinement to a wheelchair, a failing memory, and loss of weight, Jeannette took up residence in Wilton Overlook. She gradually became weaker and quietly passed from this life in the early hours of August 3, 2021. Jeannette was 5 months shy of turning 102.
Jeannette is mourned by her family and the many whose lives were touched by her sweetness and generosity. Although she will be greatly missed, we have wonderful memories of our time together for comfort.