Accident slowed Jessop, but he 'never gave up'

Civic-minded, he still had other priorities: Family, first; fishing, next

Civic-minded, he still had other priorities: Family, first; fishing, next

October 07, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Charles Rufus "Pete" Jessop, who died Sept. 27 at the age of 92. His obituary was published in the Sept. 28 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

How ironic that Charles R. "Pete" Jessop's obituary would run in the last editions of the two newspapers he worked for in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Jessop, who died Sept. 27 at the age of 92, was for a time head of the classified advertising department at the newspaper, then a half a block away and across the street from where The Herald-Mail Co. now is at 100 Summit Ave.

Born in Williamsport, Jessop graduated from high school there, then went to live with an aunt and uncle in York, Pa.


It was there that Pete and his future wife, Janet, met.

"Pete's cousin was always trying to date me, but I didn't go for him," Janet said. At that time, Janet was living in York with her family.

There was a double date in a car, and Janet remembered that Pete was in the front seat and she was in the back seat. At one point, Pete slipped his hand back between the seat and held Janet's hand.

Later, after a walk around a lake, Janet said she and Pete just clicked.

"It was mutual from the start," Janet said.

Married on Pete's 21st birthday in 1936, the couple started their family right away, first with daughter, Lois (Taylor), then 14 months later, a son, Charles W. Jessop.

During World War II, Pete served in the U.S. Navy.

"Our son Gary was born while he was away," Janet said. Deceased since 1997, Gary Jessop was six years younger than his brother, Charles.

Pete took the death of his younger son hard, family members said. Then 3 1/2 years later, Pete was paralyzed after a fall during a fishing trip near Thurmont, Md., with a group of men from Zion Lutheran Church in Williamsport.

"He just had a gash on his head - we didn't think he was hurt so bad at first," said Gary's widow, Susie Jessop. The paralysis was discovered later.

"Daddy never gave up - he had me store all his suits because he was hoping for a miracle," Lois said. Pete was determined he would be able to wear them again.

Before the accident, Pete led an active life in the community. He was executive director of Washington County Big Brothers of America for 20 years, until he retired in 1982.

He was also busy as a member of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Williamsport, the Williamsport Lions Club, Williamsport Library Board, Hagerstown Exchange Club and was a charter member of Potomac Post 202 American Legion in Williamsport.

He also coached for The Herald-Mail Junior League baseball team.

For the past six years, Pete was a resident of Williamsport Retirement Village while Janet remained in the nearby family home. They took turns visiting each other.

Janet recently moved into the Twin Oaks building at Williamsport Retirement Village and again, they continued to visit each other. Pete would come down in his wheelchair - sometimes accompanied by staff.

"Sometimes, he would sneak down alone," Janet said. They celebrated their 71st anniversary together in August.

Tim Berry, administrator of Williamsport Retirement Village, in a written memorial, called Pete a man who was in "a class of his own."

Berry said that in 1992, he asked Pete to testify on behalf of the proposed construction of two assisted-living homes at Williamsport Retirement Village (Twin Oaks) and Pete did, with thoughtfulness and power, despite local opposition.

"Who could have ever imagined that a terrible accident would bring Mr. Jessop back to us as a resident a few years later," Berry said in his memorial.

Janet always called her husband Charles. She said that was the name she knew him by when they first met and it stuck. Most of his friends called him Pete.

"He was Pap to his grandchildren," Susie said.

At the funeral, Susie's son, Larry, spoke of how Pap was his hero, and Lois' son, Michael Taylor, read the eulogy. Susie's other son, Darren, talked about how Pap taught him to have a firm handshake.

Charles Jr., Charles' son, sang a song he wrote called "My Pappy Pete."

Pete's family was No. 1 to him, but fishing came a close second, family members agreed.

It was more than a casual activity for Pete. He fished whenever he could, and wrote a column about fishing and other outdoor ventures when he was working for a newspaper in Florida.

"The column was called 'Porkrind,' and it ran in the Orlando Sentinel," Charles said.

Why that name? It was simple, Charles said. His father never went fishing without that particular delicacy in his tackle box as bait.

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