Jody Pullen-Jenkins Williams

Profile Updated: August 29, 2020
Jody Pullen-Jenkins
Jody Pullen-Jenkins

Now

Jody Pullen-Jenkins

Yearbook

Yes! Attending Reunion
Residing In: Orange City, FL USA
Spouse/Partner: David G. Williams
Children and grandchildren: Kirsten Jenkins Coleman, born whilst at Swarthmore, 1965.
Ian Jenkins, born 1968. Adopted in More…1969 at age 7 months.
Counting their progeny + those of my two adult step children, we have 9 grands and one great. Ages (a/o 2020); 31 down to 11.
Open Category for whatever you wish to tell about yourself in whatever way.

Indulged in several years of Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway cruising in small sailboat, some dozen years of home ownership in & near Daytona Beach FL with a 5 year extra-dose in big old near-beach house near CApe Cod. Gave up all for senior care community in central Florida where we needn't worry about most logistics of life.

Love music. Love nature. Love history. Appreciate increasingly all education: Lexington MA public schools, S'more of course, Boston College Law School (late 30s was right time for that, for me), UMass/Boston Dispute Resolution studies.
Getting more & more angry re social injustices. Learning so much more about racial injustices, women's voting struggles, fine points of law and economics as they impact our present in USA and world; gruesome power of military and giant economic interests from colonial days to present) and power of "influencers"
Body creaky but functional after 2 new hips, mind mostly still OK. ???lol???

Further Comments about Spouse/Partner or Relationship history:

David and I--each others' thirds!--celebrate 30 years of marriage in Sept. 2020. He brought sailing, Yale, a Siamese cat & two great adult children into my life. We renewed our wedding vows in 2015 for #25 at Old North Church in Boston, where the same excellent soloist sang the same Handel aria in our honor. We feel a great affection for that church.

Got in last 2 decades into loose touch with first hubby fellow classmate Gareth Jenkins, but he just died Aug 18, 2020. Had not taken good care of himself in his later years. Our Swarthmore "baby" Kirsten, now 55, needs to take care of his affairs.

Education History since Swarthmore:

University of Paris--2 semesters of "cours de civilisation francaise" at the Sorbonne during my sophomore year. Great experience, making me an avid proponent of study abroad for us (mostly pretty parochial) Yankees.

I feel most of my post-Swarthmore "education" has been from real life: marriages/divorces, parenthood, living/moving in many locations, financial struggles, jobs (many, eclectic), seeing folks struggle with illnesses/death/dying. Found travel esp'ly educational: Swarthmore trip to China/Tibet 2017, and trip with French group to India in 2018. Surprise "learning" from unexpected inheritance and opportunity briefly to be a small-scale philantropist.
Education included some formal studies:
(A) Boston College Law School, JD 1983. Getting a law degree in mid-life was refreshing. (B) University of Mass. McCormack Grad School of Public Policy: Certificate in Dispute Resolution 2000. Wish I had learned some of this stuff earlier in life. Actively use mediation skills both formally and informally.

Career History

Eclectic. Best part is that I've been in many jobs from "bottom" (secretary, store clerk) to "top" (executive director & the like), the latter as big frog in small pond. Have worked & played with all walks of life, from relative big-wigs like governors, presidential wannabee's, and senators to folks with massive intellectual disabilities or who are locked up or homeless.

Paid jobs or careers included:
** French teacher, dorm mom in private school.
** Public health educator
** Program coordinator or exec director of several non-profit and (Mass.) state agencies involved with developmental disabilities.
** Program quality assurance monitor/investigator for special education and public school programs
** Legal counsel and court investigator--abused/neglected kids
** Consultant and trainer: financial literacy, abuse prevention.

Written 2015: Most satisfying is bringing diverse people and ideas together, & feeling there has been some real & good social change in the disability world. Progress spotty, however, in gender equality and racial justice. Unsatisfying that so many of the "problems" we saw in the 60s are still with us. And the "answers" & "solutions" far trickier than we thought.
Furious to the point of boring people at parties on the subjects including miscarriages of justice, capital punishment, and our country's mounting obsession with guns beyond what any sane person could possibly want for self-defense. But people for the most part are wonderful, so I combine pessimism about the big things for awe of how hard the good folks keep trying.
Update 2020: Above true even more so, but with growing awareness of of "white supremacy" after civil rights pilgrimage to Montgomery AL (fall 2019). Studying racial injustice, women suffrage, native rights....all the threads come together from the 60s, non-violence, with new heroes about whom I've learned in Florida, e.g. Howard Thurman, Mary McLeod Bethune, the Moores, all the victims (many un-named) of Jim Crow and lynching....

What might surprise us about you or your activities?

Written 2015 before our 50th in 2016--will keep this in 2020.
what surprised me in life (2015):
1. How hard it was emotionally and financially to raise kids, who arrive with or develop unexpected gifts and challenges. Much harder than doing well in a job.
2. That I was not very wise in some basic life skills. (Better now.)
3. That I'd end up marrying a Republican and attending Episcopal churches. [2020 update: He HATES HATES Trump.]
4. That as an old New England gal (raised Unitarian) I'd end up retired in (gulp) Florida! And liking it, it's a fascinating place. (We escape "up north" in summer. Update 2020: No more escape: sold house, where we live charges monthly fee so it doesn't compute to spend time away; COVID killed 2020 travel plans.)

Surprise??? No. Certain ancient values and passions, which predate Swarthmore, get stronger with age: social justice, learning stuff (trying to extract truth and essence from voluminous fluff), music, the outdoors, friends, community involvement. Those things are a constant in my life. I do like having more time now to "pass time" with ordinary people doing ordinary things.

Memories from time at Swarthmore

Meeting first real love of my life on first day: Gareth Jenkins. Schmoozing in lunch lines and getting called to dean's office therefrom.

Dropping stuff in PhysWhiz class from Clothier Tower.

Switching from initial interest in political science to French and education, as result of spending sophomore year in Paris and falling in love with the country and language.

Assassination of President Kennedy (I was in my once-a-week shower in Paris) and the incredibly loving kindness of the French people to us Americans.

Being away a lot, and out of the mainstream: I worked hard, and did OK, and enjoyed it, but I was physically and emotionally "gone" much of the four years. Sophomore year in France, then starting married life [beginning of junior year] and having a child [beginning of senior year]. Took 2 advanced French classes at U.Penn summer before senior year. I have fewer memories of specific classes at Swarthmore than (I expect) most classmates (tho' I always managed to get a decent night's sleep; was a straight arrow and never did inhale). I still have my old classwork course paper files -- and the intention to read the old papers when I have time (hahaha).

Fuzzy sense that we were on the cusp of massive change--changes in race relations, in our feelings about our government; coming out of gays, beginnings of major anti-war activities, modern feminism....some of this was bubbling on campus but it was hard to incorporate so I just tried to listen and learn.

Strangely, or perhaps not....my memories of high school are clearer.

My overall positive sense and feeling about Swarthmore--my classmates, the courses, and mainly the values academic and ethical--are powerful and have grown over time. Love coming to reunions, to meet the people I did not spend enough time with "back when"!

Community Service, Volunteer Activities, Hobbies, Interests, Retirement Activities:

My biggies in recent years are volunteer mediation in county court, and serving as a guardian ad litem for abused/neglected kids. Love choral singing, photography, learning about Florida history & wildlife & politics, exploring, kids/grandkids.

Do a fair amount for various non-profit orgs to support classical music, historic preservation, church & interfaith programs to combat homelessness. Enjoy the multiple offerings of four colleges (believe it or not!) in Daytona Beach area.
Update 2020: Moved inland about 20 miles to "springs" country with manatees, in senior community: John Knox Village of central FL.

New "activity': bought big old 1920 house near Cape Cod for friends and relations to visit, this 3 years after buying house in central Florida. Crazy to be upsizing but wanted house to play with all my adult life, now I can! All are invited to see this funky neatsy salty place.

Books, Creative Products, Athletic Achievements:

I love it when friends, colleagues, or bright literate people like classmates write books, play, poems, or symphonies. Or discover new universes and cures for cancer. My talents & accomplishments are modest, informal---count me in the "fan club" department.

Spent several months over three years (2004-8) coastal-cruising the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in smallish sailboat. Learned more about history, nature, and my fellow species than in most classroom settings.

Having no stellar accomplishments worth bragging about, I'll use this "box" to recommend books I have found particularly good: (1) James Carroll's "Constantine's Sword" which explains Christianity's longstanding, vicious anti-semitism. And: his "Christ, Actually" which basically says Christians really should appreciate that Jesus was Jewish birth to death and never said otherwise. (2) Gilbert King's "Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America" (eye opener re lynching and lawyering). (3) Charles Murray's "Coming Apart: The State of While America 1960-2010" (he tracks major social trends among whites in our age cohort, descriptive tho' not prescriptive re major issues including [loss of] work ethic, family composition, community connections--our growing white underclass.

Spiritual Practice and Openings, if any?

Like the fellowship when people of good will gather in whatever guise to reflect on matters more important than our individual selves. And give thanks. And ask "why?" but not worry about having the right answer.

I feel blessed that (bec/o pure chance of when/where I was born, plus advantages of family and education) I have been well exposed to various flavors of Christianity & Judaism, and modestly exposed to other traditions. I am fierce believer in separation of church and state (card-carrying ACLU since college). I think Jesus is an amazingly mis-understood radical guide. My personal preference is for a blend of the non-doctrinal perspectives expressed by Unitarians, Quakers, reformed Jews, and folks of whatever persuasion who focus on love, sharing, learning, humor and humility.

Because my husband is relaxed but lifelong Episcopalian, I "go with with flow" and have been active in (also relaxed) Epis churches for the past 33 years. Avid choir singing and social fellowship deeply satisfying.

Role of wisdom? Always need more, both personal and social. Best reason for getting old is learning more. Good reason to come to reunions, yes????

Favorite quote, poem, humorous statement, or words of wisdom

He drew a circle that shut me out,
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win.
We drew a circle and took him in.
(this from memory, could be "off". Edwin Markham)
----------------
Some primordial termite knocked on wood,
And tasted it, and found it good.
And that is why you cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today. (Ogden Nash, also fr.memory)

Jody's Latest Interactions

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Sep
07
Sep 07, 2020 at 4:35 PM

Posted on: Sep 06, 2020 at 2:45 PM

Happy Natal Day! Please post some Native poems when you have time. I loved getting them from you for years. Meanwhile, greetings from central Florida.

Aug
29
Aug 29, 2020 at 3:39 PM

Dear Gary, sorry to lose you to this world. You gladdened my heart for a while. jody
"Life is short, & we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. O be swift to love, make haste to be kind." --- Swiss philosopher Henri-Frederic Amiel

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Aug 29, 2020 at 2:41 PM
May
07
May 07, 2020 at 4:36 AM
May 07, 2019 at 4:33 AM
May 07, 2018 at 4:33 AM
May 07, 2017 at 4:33 AM
Jun 06, 2016 at 11:45 AM
Jun 06, 2016 at 11:30 AM
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May 28, 2016 at 2:47 PM

Posted on: May 28, 2016 at 1:21 PM

Let's party on June 2 for your birthday, and also Alice Clark's!

Jody Pullen-Jenkins Williams posted a message. New comment added.
May 28, 2016 at 12:32 PM

Posted on: May 27, 2016 at 5:33 PM

Hi JC, am sorry that your school's quarter century celebration precludes your coming to our reunion. But congrats on that, we'll miss you! And thanks for your profile: what an amazing collection of experiences, what diverse (in every way, as you say) progeny, what a "rich" and at times sorrowful life, what energy ongoing! I also am a volunteer mediator, hope we can catch up about that and all else soon. I once dreamed of starting a school, and you did it--not an easy project. Happy Parker School #25!

May 27, 2016 at 5:21 PM
May 25, 2016 at 12:49 PM

The poem you selected and shared is PERFECT for a 50th reunion. The "golden haze" wins, yes?

Jody Pullen-Jenkins Williams posted a message. New comment added.
May 26, 2016 at 12:48 PM

Posted on: May 25, 2016 at 12:41 PM

Dear Freshman Roommate in Willis (seems so long ago): Happy to read your love story of reconnecting with HS sweetheart! I admire your work in conflict resolution, dabble in it now in Florida courts. Your life sounds wonderful.
Good memories....

May 25, 2016 at 11:55 AM
May 25, 2016 at 11:40 AM
May 23, 2016 at 9:44 AM

Posted on: May 23, 2016 at 9:44 AM

May 07, 2016 at 4:33 AM
Apr 26, 2016 at 6:04 PM
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Posted: Aug 29, 2020 at 2:41 PM