Jeanne B. Derwin


Jeanne Derwin.jpg


Jeanne B. Derwin

full of grace


     GAINESVILLE, GA - The world has lost a guardian of etiquette.  Jeanne Lucille Bernier Derwin passed peacefully in the early morning of July 20th 2020, with her family at her side after a courageous battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.  Heaven finally has the charm it deserves.  Jeanne was born on September 14,1933, and raised by her parents, Homer and Cecil Bernier in pure French culture, to do things properly, with class and dignity. She would never let differences in religion or politics contaminate a personal relationship.  

     Jeanne was a lifelong resident of Waterbury, CT, until she retired to Hobe Sound Florida.  She graduated from Crosby High School in 1951, where she was active in French Club and theater.  Her yearbook calls her a “cultured wit with a magnetic personality and unusual charm,” and she remained that way until the end. She graduated from Edgewood Park Junior College with an associate degree in Medical Secretary in 1953, and quickly started a family with Donald Crane, also from Waterbury.   

     One’s greatness is measured by small acts of love and by all accounts Jeanne was a great mother. She raised eight children in a three-bedroom house and taught them through example about the meaning of family love and the virtues of honor. She brown- bagged thousands of lunches over twelve years of schooling and made each one delicious. Dinners were always eaten as a family where you brought your best conversation to the table but never your elbows. Jeanne loved life with a childlike innocence but had an iron strong work ethic and was fiercely protective of her children. She ice skated with her daughters with more whimsy than most children but stood her ground against an overly aggressive police officer who confronted her son. When she became a single working mother, she protected her kids from the ugly drama of divorce by never speaking of its true cause. She shielded her children from the embarrassments of poverty by turning a heatless house into a special occasion for having breakfast by the fire. She found it entertaining to help her kids dress up for Halloween. She made Christmas a fantasy and Thanksgiving a family oath.  Her timing was perfect.  She knew when to be giddy and when to be grateful, when to teach a lesson and when to tolerate.  She knew that a good sense of humor was more than just laughter but the fuel for resilience and the proper way to manage pain. 

     At 46 years old, she married her high school sweetheart, Thomas Derwin of Waterbury and together they had many happy adventures.  They retired to Hobe Sound, FL, in 2006.  Jeanne loved the beach, all holidays, and any occasion for a party.  She cultured an envious tan that turned many heads, but her stunning beauty was more than just good looks, it grew from her genuine friendliness and unassuming charm. Her bridge club was an institution that spanned 40 years. She often hosted the neighborhood Super Bowl party but never cared who was playing. For her 70th birthday she was gifted a trip to Europe and her travel journal reveals her immense gratitude to her children and her parents. She shed tears of joy at the beauty of Paris and pretended she was a princess at the opera in Vienna.  After Tom passed away, Jeanne moved to Gainesville Georgia in 2014 to be closer to family. 

     Jeanne was faithful to her Catholic church, St Margaret’s.  She became a Eucharistic Minister and helped serve communion.  She used her frugal ingenuity to decorate the church with leftover funeral flowers, and volunteered countless hours reading to children.  Her ability to always forgive her children was saintly, despite them pushing the limits of exploration, vice, and respect.  In her last weeks she was asked how she managed to forgive so often, and she replied, “I did it with love.”  Some of her final words were, “I don’t want you children fighting.”   

     When a community loses a friend like Jeanne, an emptiness settles like a fog.  When a family loses a mother like ours, an irreversible wound is formed.  She became the matriarch of 8 children, 25 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren, and one in the oven.  Her words of wisdom and song of laughter are now as silent as snow, and in the silence she leaves behind her son Jeff Crane, his wife Diane of Carbondale, CO, and 4 children; son Tim Crane, his wife Viki of Eldorado Hills, CA, and 2 children; son Kevin Crane and wife Rose of Gainesville, GA, and 4 children; daughter Jeanne Blanchard, her partner Mark of DeLand, FL, and 3 children; son Michael Crane, his partner Rebecca of Burlington, VT, and 2 children; daughter Tricia Thomas, her husband John of Murrayville, GA, and 4 children; daughter Peggy Calvani, her husband Chris of Reading, MA, and 2 children. She is preceded in death by her son Donald Francis Crane II, of Greenville, SC, who had 4 children; her husband Thomas Derwin, who had 3 children; her parents Homer R. and Cecil T. Bernier of Waterbury; her only 2 siblings Homer Bernier of New Canaan, CT and Claire Kenny of Middlebury CT; her infant son Patrick Crane (d.1954); and her first husband, Donald Francis Crane.    

     A celebration of Jeanne’s life will be held in Waterbury at an undetermined date in 2021.  Her friends are encouraged to maintain contact with her family for this announcement.  In lieu of flowers her family suggests contributions to the Alzheimer’s Association. 

     The Murphy Funeral Home, 115 Willow Street, Waterbury is assisting with arrangements.

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