Mary Jean Parmelee
On January 22nd, 2019, Mary Jean Stootman Parmelee of Hackettstown, New Jersey, entered the kingdom of heaven at the age of 60. Friends are invited to join the family for funeral services on Friday, February 1st at 7pm, with calling hours beginning at 4pm, at Cochran Funeral Home, Inc., 905 High Street, Hackettstown, NJ. A funeral mass and internment at Graceland Memorial Park, Kenilworth will be at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, please consider continuing Mary Jean’s fight against cancer by supporting the American Cancer Society, or helping to inspire young girls through the Girl Scouts, as Mary Jean did for so many years, by donating to Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey.
Mary Jean Stootman was born to Gerard Stootman and Betty Gibbs Stootman on March 13th, 1958 in Denville, New Jersey. She spent her early years between West Milford, New Jersey and Sempronius, New York until settling in Elizabeth, New Jersey near family. Here she spent many cherished years helping to run Betty and Jerry’s, the family store, on West End Avenue. Already a very creative individual by her graduation in 1976, Mary Jean wrote the words to her class song at Battin High School. She then went on to study art at SUNY Cortland.
In 2003, Mary began a heroic fight against Breast Cancer that would come to define a large portion of her life. She won at first, but shortly after reaching her tenth anniversary of being cancer-free, it was found that her cancer had returned and spread to her bones. Once again she fought bravely, this time choosing to participate in a clinical trial that has since allowed a powerful cancer fighting drug to help so many others. Her illness prevented her from enjoying physical activities she once loved such as gardening and long walks, but the Facebook conversations and challenging Words with Friends games that so many participated with her in, lifted her spirits greatly whether she was sitting through one of many treatments or cuddled with her beloved Morkie, Hannah.
Despite her illness, Mary Jean always devoted herself to helping others in both her professional and personal life. She touched the hearts of many as a teacher of 7th and 8th grade students at Saint Patricks in Elizabeth, inspiring some to become teachers themselves. A devout Catholic, she spent many years teaching within the Religious Education programs of her church, first in Elizabeth, and later in Hackettstown where she guided hundreds of children through their First Holy Communion. As an aide in various Warren County Schools, she had a talent for bringing the stories her students read to life through her art. She brought out the best in each of her students, and had a way of making each feel special. Even as her illness progressed, Mary Jean was determined to continue spreading her love of learning as a tutor at Kumon.
With humble beginnings in the Brownies and as a camper, the Girl Scouts became an important part of her life. She even met her lifelong friend, Joyce Chess, while serving as co-leaders of Troop 22 in Elizabeth. She worked many summers as a camp counselor, eventually becoming the Arts and Crafts Director at Camp Lou Henry Hoover in Middleville, New Jersey. Since 1984, she fondly called Camp Hoover her “Happy Place,” and it was here that Mary used her love and passion for art to inspire and encourage thousands of young girls. Not only did she help these young girls learn how to make their first tie-dyes, but she nurtured their unique passions, even going so far as helping some to assemble portfolios for art and fashion programs. Through the silk screen table she helped to build, the stunning shirt designs she created, and the beautiful banners she poured her heart into each summer, her love of Camp Hoover will live on for years to come.
Mary Jean is survived by; her daughters, Mariah (Starland) Cooke of Okinawa, Japan, and Marielle Parmelee of Lubbock, TX; her older sister, Gloria (Mason) Wristen of Auburn, NY; her nieces and nephew, Meagan, Jerrod, and Mikka Wristen and their children; several aunts and uncles; and many cousins spanning the globe. In addition to her grandparents, Mary Jean was preceded in death by; her parents, Jerry and Betty; and her eldest sister, Gertrude who passed as an infant.
Calling hours will be Friday, February, 1, 2019 from 4:00pm to 8:00pm with the funeral service beginning at 7:00pm. A mass of Christian Burial will be held at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 11 am with Father David Pekola officiating. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Cochran Funeral Home, 905 High Street, Hackettstown, NJ 07840. Those wishing to leave an online condolence may do so at www.cochranfuneral.com. In lieu of flowers donations may be sent to:
Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey
Attention: Fund Development
1171 Route 28
North Branch, NJ 08876
American Cancer Society