Jackolyn Louise Chapman Gadient McHenry was a beloved forever wife, an adored mother, a
cherished sibling, an amazing Nana, and awesome friend. She was welcomed with full arms by
the moon last night, March 11, 2020. She got her wings.
What do you say about someone who could change a room just by walking into it? She was
someone who “never met a stranger”, and made family out of friends, and friends out of family.
The table was always long enough to add another chair. The door was always open to let in a
breeze, sunshine and guests. She is a legend.
Stunningly beautiful up until her last breath, she spent the end of her life with a
cruel and relentless thief, dementia. But even then, she was blessed: her soulmate and
husband, Neal Harper McHenry was right by her side and took care of her with patience and
whiskey. His love for her and his tender care would make other wives scold their husbands in
the grocery store aisle as they saw him tenderly call her loving names, and kiss her as they
picked out their bagels.
Jackolyn was born at home on January 17, 1937 on her big sister Cleo’s first birthday, in
Farmington, New Mexico. I can’t reduce her life to a few sentences recalling standard
highlights of her life. I can’t write this. But I will keep trying. Sleep deprived and grieving.
She loved little children. How do I know? Because I was her little girl, and she gave me the
greatest gift a mother could give: I knew I was loved. My three brothers knew they were loved.
It’s one of the last things I ever told her on this earthly plane, “Thank you Mama. Thank you for
being our mother. We are so grateful. We knew how loved we were.” I always knew how loved I
was. I never doubted that her sun and moon rose and set on me. She loved life and she loved
people and she was fond of saying out loud that “everybody loved her’. She wasn’t wrong.
She loved little children, and the beach, and dancing, and plants. She had green eyes and a
green thumb. She loved color, and music, picnics and swings and bling. She loved rhinestones
and cowboy boots and Willie Nelson. She loved poetry and sculpture and art. She believed
firmly in true love. Her most cherished possessions weren’t things but her beloved family. She
was delighted beyond belief about her cherished grandchildren.
She got married for the first time in a big poofy white dress when she was 75 and seeing her
beaming smile in photographs is proof of true love winning in the end and has inspired older
people all over that there’s hope, that they too shouldn’t give up on love.
She leaves the world a little empty without her big personality but we can feel her love all
around us. You can feel her love all around you. She’s everywhere now, just a loving thought
and memory away. She always said she wanted a big party when she died, that she wanted
everyone to wear their bright favorite clothes, and to hug and kiss and most importantly to
Please, if it’s in your heart, take the time to write about her. Tell us a story or a memory so that
her great-grandchildren will get to know her through us. Let all of us celebrate her beautiful life
by sharing her with one another.
“You know we never say goodbye. We just say aloha until we meet again.”
Please share memories and condolences with the family by clicking on the “Post a Condolence” tab below.
Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, 1535 S.41st Street Wilmington, NC 28403. 910.791.9099.