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Jessops have seen much in their lives

October 17, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

WILLIAMSPORT

marlob@herald-mail.com

Although paralyzed in a freak fall while fishing five years ago, Charles "Pete" Jessop still has a twinkle in his eye and a decidedly optimistic outlook on life.

"I think I've seen it all, from the horse and buggy to the space age," Jessop said from his room at Williamsport Retirement Village.

Jessop, the longtime director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County, recently turned 90. On that same day, he and his wife, Janet, celebrated 69 years of marriage.

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"I was just 19 when Pete and I married," Janet Jessop said.

Pete was a native of Williamsport, while Janet spent her first six years in South Dakota before moving to York, Pa.

It was there she met her husband, who was then living with an aunt and uncle in York.

"It was love at first sight," she said.

After a stint in the U.S. Navy, Pete Jessop returned to Washington County with his family and worked in the circulation department of The Herald-Mail Co. before becoming the classified ad manager there.

He headed Big Brothers Big Sisters twice, retiring from the agency about 20 years ago.

Janet Jessop was busy raising three children while working as an illustrator for Fairchild and doing alterations at Katy O'Connell's and Eyerly's. During the 1976 bicentennial celebration, she kept busy making costumes for the many events held for America's 200th birthday.

"I was always active with people throughout my career," Pete Jessop said. An Exchange Club member and Williamsport Lion, he and his wife were involved at Zion Lutheran Church in Williamsport.

The first Tuesday of the month, members of Zion Men's Fellowship visit with Pete and they eat together.

"It's great to see everyone again," he said.

Troubled with some health problems of her own, Janet, 88, occasionally receives treatment at Williamsport Retirement Village. She said she'd like to go back to church again soon.

Janet, who still lives mainly at the family home, visits Pete several times a week. With the help of his therapist, Pete occasionally travels the short distance home in his motorized scooter to visit Janet.

"I'd like to be here with Pete all the time," Janet said.

Pete said the people at Williamsport Retirement Village have been good to him.

A fan of sports and the Maryland Terrapins, Pete keeps up with his favorite teams. One of his greatest thrills, he said, was going to a Major League Baseball draft in Baltimore with Frank Colley, former sports editor of The Herald-Mail Co.

"Still, I would like to be able to go fishing again someday," Pete said.

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