Boutwell remembered by friends for her ‘incredible spirit’

Published 10:50 pm Monday, May 13, 2013

When one person is missing the whole world seems empty. That’s the way “Tear Soup” author Pat Schweibert described the feeling of the loss of a loved one. And, that’s the way the family and friends of Jean Boutwell are feeling now.

“Jean was the kind of person who sees the good in all people and in all situations,” said Mary Ann Casey, former director of the Colley Senior Complex. “Jean was such a vital part of our senior group. She had an incredible spirit and she took us all to a higher level.”

Boutwell, a former columnist for The Messenger and active member of the community, passed away Thursday.

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“Jean always made me do more than I thought I could do,” Casey said. “She was a Renaissance woman. She loved the written word and she shared her spirit through her words and her actions. All of us who knew Jean will miss her spirit.”

Winnie Merle Helton holds a special place for Boutwell in her memory.

“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, Jean and I were featured in an article in The Messenger,” Helton said. “Jean had breast cancer many years before and we talked about the difference in treatments. I got to know her through that experience.”

Helton said Boutwell was an encourager who helped her through her battle with cancer. “Jean was a very giving person,” she said. “She gave to a lot of causes, not especially monetarily, but with her support. That is evident by her election to the Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.”

For several years, Boutwell wrote a column for The Messenger and she often used her space to highlight the accomplishments of community members and to recognize the efforts of clubs and organizations to make Troy and Pike County a better place to live and work. She carried that same spirit to her close friends in a “birthday group.” “If she found out something that you had done or some recognition that you had gotten, she would send a card or call. She was a very giving person,” Helton said.

Boutwell also loved to travel and she loved to dance. If the bus was loading, she was in line and, if the music was playing, she was on the dance floor. Beverly Casey, Colley Senior Complex activities coordinator, said what she enjoyed most were the Saturday night dances.

“When the music started, she was on the dance floor and she was not shy about dancing. She would tap a man on the shoulder and say, “I’d like to dance with you.’ Everybody loved Ms. Jean,” Casey said.

The Saturday Night Dance group paid tribute to Boutwell this weekend.

“We had a special moment for Ms. Jean and then the band played her favorite song, ‘Kansas City, Here I Come;’” Glenda Fayson said and added laughing, “I danced so hard for Ms. Jean that I couldn’t go to church on Sunday. She was one special lady.”