Cover photo for Jean Keizs's Obituary
1940 Jean 2022

Jean Keizs

May 16, 1940 — July 7, 2022

Hartsdale, NY

Jean N. Keizs was born in Kingston, Jamaica on May 16, 1940. She was the second child and first daughter of Eileen and Reginald Keizs. Jean was also the niece of Phyllis Morgan of Spring Hill, Florida.
Jean spent her formative years in Kingston with brief but important years in the hills of Albert Town. Under the influence of immediate and extended family, including Miss Min, an older female cousin, the seeds of commitment to family, strong social values and educational pursuits were planted and nurtured. These early years under the aegis of family and friends, formed the bedrock of Jean's character and personality that held life-long sway.
In Kingston, Jean attended both Ardenne and Excelsior High Schools. During those years Jean developed her strong academic skills and cemented enduring friendships. Excelling in the arts, Jean decided to pursue further studies in foreign languages and after a few years working with the Jamaican Government Post Office, she was accepted to the renowned Howard University in Washington, DC where she majored in Spanish.
The years at Howard University in the 1960s extended the study of her discipline, introduced her to a body of knowledge in the social sciences and the arts, and provided her substantive exposure to the high level of scholarship present in the African American world. As a foreign student at Howard, Jean was introduced to the politics of America through the African American lens. During those years she also developed friendships that would last a lifetime. Jean received her BA in 1963 and her MA in 1968.

Upon leaving Washington DC, Jean sought employment in New York where she had a home base in Queens with her cousin Rita Ellis. Jean found work as a Girl Friday at the Village Voice. That experience gave Jean exposure not only to journalism, but also to the Bohemian world of Greenwich Village, which was known for nurturing writers, playwrights and musicians and their crafts. But Jean remained focused. In 1969 she became a Spanish Language teacher at IS 131 in the Bronx. She continued teaching for many years in District 12, before deciding to pursue a Certificate of Educational Administration and Supervision at New York University. This led to her appointment as Assistant Principal and then Principal at IS. 158 in the Bronx. There she, along with her like-minded staff, made significant strides in creating a school culture that had a lasting educational and social impact on students, staff and parents.


After thirty years as an educator in the Bronx at the middle school level, Jean retired in 2002. However, she continued to contribute to the education field at the middle school and college levels by working with principals to help make major improvement in their students' academic outcomes as an Educational Consultant with School Turn Around. She worked with schools in multiple states on the East coast, Mid-West and the South. She also served as a program administrator at Bronx Community College /CUNY. For over 20 years Jean served as an adjunct professor, first at Queensborough Community College and later at Bronx Community College where she taught in the Department of Education and Reading until 2020.


Jean met and married her former spouse, Lloyd Williams in 1977. Upon their divorce she continued to pursue her profession as an educator, and she met the late Hugh Ewing, a relationship that led to an enduring companionship. Together Jean and Hugh were known as the most gracious of hosts, extending their special brand of hospitality to all family and friends.


Jean was a thoroughly well-rounded person with many interests: the arts (especially opera and theater) cooking, entertaining, travel, Bridge (at The Theodore Young /Greenburgh Center, The Bridge Home and The Mt. Vernon Bridge Club). Her Windsor Park neighbors also knew her to be an avid gardener. Jean was a proud and active member of the Howard Alumni Westchester Chapter. For over 30 years Jean served on the Board and was Secretary of Hopewell Family Association, in Dutchess County where she owned a summer residence.


Jean was a committed Christian, worshipping for over thirty years at Church of The Ascension, Mount Vernon where she was partial to the 8:30 AM service. There Jean was known as a "can do" force, serving on the Vestry, leading the scholarship committee and engaging in many church activities including Bible Study.


For nearly 20 years, Jean managed her diagnosis of Polycythemia Vera with characteristic optimism and diligence. Therefore, her circle of family and friends were shocked to learn of her recent diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia and its accelerated impact on Jean's life. As recently as March of this year, she spent an active month in her Sunrise, Fort Lauderdale residence with an exciting side trip to Costa Rica where her niece, Sonji reports that Jean kept up with the many cross-country tours. Jean was looking forward to her May trip to Roland Garros to see the French Open.


Jean has now gone to sleep and joined the great pantheon of our ancestors. As the writer of Hebrews observed, she has now joined the great cloud of witnesses and she is now looking down on us, encouraging us to run with patience the race we have before us, looking to Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith. She passed peacefully on July 7th at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx." After life's fitful fever, she sleeps well."
Sadly mourning her passing are her siblings: Hugh, Marcia, Dale, Manley, Sonia and Jimmy and their spouses; her aunt and uncle, Phyllis and Vincent Morgan; her cousins Eileen Boxill, Roseneath Jackson, Else Bond, Eucilda Brown, Hopeton McPherson, Nathlye Sudlow Naggie and their families; her stepsons Eric and Shawn Ewing and their spouses: Hisha and Joanna Ewing; her grandchildren, Mykal, Amber, Jordyn, Shannon, and Addison; her nieces and nephews: Howard, Judanna, Hal, Duane, Nanaesi, Sonji ,Angela and Melanie and their children Jessica, Esiri, Tobore, Kevin, Jerome, Patrick, Sasha, Denae, Colin Jr, Avery, Braelyn, and Arthur Manley; her great-great niece, Jaida; her Godchildren Vincent & Cynji Lee and Denyse Bailey; and a host of dear family and friends (too many to name) in New York, Florida, Michigan Canada, Europe, Jamaica and across the United States.


Jean now resides in God's presence where there is fullness of joy and pleasure evermore.

A Day of Thanksgiving for the Life of Jean N. Keizs: Saturday, July 30, 2022, 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Please join us as we give thanks for the life of our dear Jean by participating in the Church Service and the Repast as your schedule allows.
Regrettably, due to Covid-19 regulations, there is limited family attendance at the Ferncliff Committal.
The program is roughly as follows:
•   9:30 AM -11:30 AM - The Thanksgiving Service.
Church of The Ascension, Mount Vernon, 104 Park Avenue, Mount Vernon, New York 10550
•   Noon to 1:30 PM - The Committal, Limited Family Attendance Only.
Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale with a pause at Jean's home.
•   1:30 - 4:00 PM - The Repast.
Church of The Ascension, Mount Vernon
For the Repast, RSVP by noon on July25 at this link:
http://evite.me/fnzaWR61Yg
•   Parking is available in Mount Vernon Municipal parking lots nearby.
•   Masks required
For those joining by Zoom, the link is:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/99749336602?pwd=QnZLdHJQbk5Odko5MnpZK00wU2gvdz09
OR
Meeting ID: 997 4933 6602
Passcode: 986403
Jean's family respectfully and lovingly requests that in lieu of flowers, friends and family give as you are able, a monetary gift to the Jean N. Keizs Endowed Scholarship. Checks to :  Church of The Ascension ( Memo: Jean N.Keizs Scholarship),  104 Park Avenue, Mount Vernon, New York 10550.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Jean Keizs, please visit our flower store.

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