Mary Jean Chapman of Bridgeport, Illinois passed away on November 1, 2019. She was 93 and had lived at Gulf Coast Village in Cape Coral, Florida for several years.
Born to Oliver Wendell Recker and Anna Deganhart-Recker on June 16, 1926, Mary Jean grew up in Bridgeport, Illinois along with her sister, Barbara. Mary Jean graduated from Bridgeport High School in 1944. She worked as a secretary at the Texaco Refinery in Lawrenceville, IL after graduation. Her job at the refinery ended when the veterans returned home from the war. Through her dear friend, Dorthy Chapman, Mary met Glenn “Junior” Chapman (Dorthy’s brother) and they started dating. When Mary Jean had the chance to move to Los Angeles, California with one of her cousins, she headed West and worked for TWA for about a year. When Mary returned to Bridgeport, she and Junior got back together, and after a long courtship, were married in Evansville, Indiana in 1949.
Mary Jean developed several hobbies over the years. She took painting and drawing classes and was interested in many different crafts. She had a kiln in the basement of the family home and stayed involved in ceramics for many years. Mary was a voracious reader and loved to travel. She was very open-minded and interested in different cultures and religions. Her interest in new age topics was a constant. She loved animals and had many pets—especially cats. She had an infectious laugh, a positive outlook on life and great sense of humor. Gregarious and funny, Mary Jean was very easy to love and made friends easily.
After her husband’s passing in December of 2000, Mary Jean began spending more than just winters in Florida. In 2008, she made the decision to live year round in Florida and moved into a senior residence in Ft. Myers to be near her daughter Janette Healy and her husband Michael.
As a Florida resident, Mary spent more time at the beach, attended workshops and loved flea markets and antiquing. When she was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s, her family helped her move closer to Janette on Pine Island. Janette’s circle of friends adopted Mary Jean and included her in their celebrations and holidays. The caregivers who worked with Mary also became close friends. In 2012, as the Alzheimer’s symptoms progressed, Mary Jean decided to move into the assisted living section of Gulf Coast Village.
Mary Jean Chapman was a fun and loving mother—she adored being a grandmother. She is survived by her four daughters and sons-in-law: Judy Hrvatin-Moit (Nashville, TN), Janette and Michael Healy (Bokeelia, FL), Mary L. “Jesse” and John Bruschini (Kingston, NY) and Amy and Steve Potts (Bridgeport, IL). She loved her four grandchildren—Casey and Drew Hrvatin, Blake and Hailey Potts—and her precious great-grandaughter, Adalyn Grace Potts. Mary Jean’s nieces, nephews and cousins join her children and grandchildren in mourning her passing and in celebrating her beautiful life. She passed away as she lived—without struggle or suffering.
A graveside service to inter her ashes will be held later this month (date to be confirmed) at the Crest Haven Cemetery in Claremont, Illinois. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Lawrence County Humane Society. Checks may be sent to Cunningham Funeral Home, 441 Lanterman St, Bridgeport, IL 62417. The funeral home is collecting donations on the Humane Society’s behalf.