—Jeannette Joy Saylor—
(9/28/1918 – 12/5/2013)
Early in the morning of December 5, Jeannette Saylor left this planet, a grand spirit the 95-year-old body could no longer contain. Independent as they come, she fulfilled her wish to die peacefully and quickly in her own bed, without pain or fear.
An early pioneer in feminism born in Portland, Indiana, Jeannette always yearned to soar. In her youth, she learned how to fly a small plane, went to college, and worked as a cub reporter.
Jeannette bore three children by her first husband, Lewis Garrison, a professional artist. She supported his dreams as if they were her own, a gift she also gave each of her children, throughout her long lifetime.
In 1957, the couple divorced and Jeannette relocated with the children to San Diego, where she soon married Eldon Saylor and had a son. She settled into the career of parenting, and created a home full of music and art. It is no coincidence that all four of her children became musicians.
During the 70s, Jeannette worked as a school secretary, but when the nest was empty, the yearning returned. Another divorce gave her the impetus to move to Hollywood to seek her fortunes there. She dutifully found an agent, sent out head shots and attended auditions, landing some parts and losing others. All in all, a splendid life experience. Back in San Diego, Jeannette tried her hand at stage acting. She got several parts, due mostly to her fearless, vivacious nature, which captivated every audience.
In 2003, Jeannette moved to Ajijic, where she lived for ten interesting years. She made many cherished friends and found nearly limitless outlets for her ebullient soul. At the age of 85, it was nothing for her to dance everyone in a restaurant under the table. At the age of 90, she was still writing poetry and attending the Ajijic Writers Group. And nearly every day during the last several years of her epic journey, Jeannette could be found at the smoker’s table in the Lake Chapala Society, talking politics, family ties, or general nostalgia with anyone who cared to sit with her.
Jeannette recorded a CD titled “Umbrella Lights” just a few years before her passing. The album is as unique as she was. It contains her readings of poetry favorites from her own pen, interspersed with her husky vocal interpretations of favorite Jazz standards. Jeannette’s middle name is Joy. No moniker could come closer to a one-word description of Nettie’s true being.
She is survived by her daughter, Cindy Paul, two sons, Joe Garrison and Steven Saylor, and three grandchildren. Many Lakesiders know Cindy as a singer who specializes in Jazz; others know her as an actress from stage performances around town over the past 35 years. Joe is a piano tuner and well-known composer of modern Jazz in San Diego, working with some of the finest players in Southern California. Steve is an engineer with Boeing in Seattle. He performs regularly with a first-class bluegrass band, singing and playing guitar. Steve’s two children, Brian and Alexandra, a sister-in-law, and several nieces and nephews, are also beloved survivors.
Jeannette’s oldest child, Susan, now deceased, was a nurse by profession and a concert pianist and philosopher by inclination. Susan’s son Geoff continues the music-oriented family tradition as a professional drummer who has toured the nation, several European venues, and Japan.
Less than five feet tall, Jeannette Joy Saylor was a towering personality who effortlessly enchanted, drew out, intimidated, and loved those who came into contact with her. A memorial is scheduled in Ajijic for January 23, 2014, 3-5PM at La Bodega Restaurant. Live music by several well-known performers.
Submitted by Cindy Paul
(Ed. Note: Jeannette was a longtime member of the Ajijic Writers Group and a frequent contributor to the Ojo. On behalf of both organizations, we salute her for having lived a long and meaningful life, and for having enriched the lives of so many people she met along the way.)