Jamie Mary Kathryn Fracassi ValenJamie Mary Kathryn Fracassi Valen, Ann Arbor, passed away on Sept. 25, 2013.
Jamie Mary Kathryn Fracassi Valen, Ann Arbor, passed away on Sept. 25, 2013 and was cremated.
She was born in Duluth on Oct. 12, 1945, into a large Italian/Polish family.
Her parents, Vicky (Hantz) and James Fracassi, preceded her in death.
Beloved aunts and uncles mourn her: Aunt Virginia LaBud (Godmother), Aunt Lucile Hantz of Duluth, Aunt Jeanie McGonigle (Maywood Todd) of Florida, Richard (Gloria) Hantz Family of Cloquet, Minn., Tom, (deceased), (Maureen) Hantz and family, Marquette, Mich.; The Jim Armstrong Family, (Pat Hantz Armstrong deceased) Aunt Mary Marnich Family (Mike Marnich deceased) of Duluth. She leaves behind dear cousins: The Melanie Marnich (Lee Blessing) Family, Los Angeles, Calif.; The Diane Fracassi Wine Family (Albeno and Mardelle, Fracassi deceased) Austin Texas; and cousin Kenny Fracassi, Duluth; The Joey (Jan Hansen) Marnich Family (Joe and Kathryn Marnich deceased) and his family, Boulder, Colo., as well his sister Kathy Marnich and Keith Zumbrunnen, Duluth. She also leaves behind David Menefee, her long time traveling companion, fellow musician, and co-designer of her home in Ann Arbor, Mich. Jamie's friend, Ina Wesenberg and Family: (Michael Wesenberg,) her children Ben Keyes and Francine Keyes (Jason Pellerin) of Ann Arbor, Mich., mourn her loss.
Jamie had many, many devoted friends who were part of her "family" here in Michigan. These friends sustained her throughout the last year of her life, providing loving care, humor, food, laughter, and endless support. Jamie's doctors referred to this large group of her dedicated friends as "Jamie's Posse."
When Jamie was five years old, both she and her father contracted polio. Jamie spent a whole year in the hospital in Minneapolis, being treated. She came home with braces and crutches, and from that moment on, she was taught that she was a person first, and not a handicap: polio would not define her.
Her parents expected Jamie to do well, she regularly surpassed their expectations. Jamie attended Morgan Park High School where she was an exceptional student, graduating with honors, and served as the Student Body President. She was a talented artist from an early age: she loved drawing, painting, sewing, and photography. Jamie graduated from University of Minnesota in 1967 with a BS degree in Math and German. She moved to Flint, Mich., following graduation. Jamie taught pre-algebra to middle school students. She had the perfect combination of energy, flexibility, and humor required to teach this age group. In Flint, Mich., Jamie met and married Tom Valen. She completed her Masters Degree, in Special Education, at the University of Missouri while her husband was stationed there in the U.S. Air Force. She and Tom relocated to Ann Arbor, and she began her career with the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, (WISD). She completed her EDD in Educational Leadership: Special Education, at Eastern Michigan University. She and Tom were divorced in 1975.
At WISD Jamie worked as a Homebound Hospitalized Teacher, Special Education Teacher Consultant, Supervisor of Special Education Programs, WISD Special Education Compliance Officer, and as a Special Education Director, providing services to the Willow Run Community Schools. She loved teaching her students and hard working faculty.
Jamie and David worked together on the design of her home, just outside of Ann Arbor. The specifics of the design and the progression of the construction were featured in the issue of Fine Home Building Magazine (June-July 1989). She leaves a beautiful garden on the 15 acres surrounding the home.
Jamie entertained and hosted musical events at her home, with her at the piano, David with his fiddle or guitar and friends who sang and played along in front of her vast stone Rumford Fireplace. She had a wonderful sarcastic sense of humor and loved to laugh. Jamie loved dogs and cats: she had several Basset Hounds, and she leaves behind her lovely cat, Mario.
Jamie embraced digital photography; she wrote, edited, and illustrated family history books and travel books. She enjoyed editing and retouching photos in Adobe Photo Shop. Her friends, relatives, and customers received greeting cards, books and framed photos of her work. She was a partner in the Artistica Gallery in Dexter Mich.
Jamie was steeped in the traditions of her Polish and Italian heritages. She first traveled to Europe when she was 17 years old. She was especially close to her cousin Tiziana Faccini and her extended family in Cesena, Italy. Jamie learned Italian and completed genealogy research for the Fracassi the Hantz families. Jamie and David were great traveling companions. They spent time in Ireland, Scotland, Italy, and Northern Michigan. Jamie convinced many of her friends to join her in her travels to Europe and China.
Jamie insisted that her life be organized around her interests, family and friends. She took delight in a wide variety of friendships with diverse persons and kept strong bonds. She took advantage of every occasion to enjoy and experience exactly what she wanted to do, no limits. She was very careful to demonstrate that having a visible handicap would not deter her from any endeavors. Her drive was respected and endorsed, and it served to infect others. A dear friend is gone. May she rest in peace knowing that she was loved by so many, who will cherish her memory.
Donations in Jamie's memory: Southern Poverty Law Center, http://www.splcenter.org Rose's Good Company, http://www.rosesgoodcompany.org The art scholarship fund, in her name, sponsored by Artistica Gallery, 3203 Broad St Dexter, MI. Dexter, MI email@example.com A Memorial Service will be held, In Ann Arbor, Mich., Oct. 27, 2013 in the Ann Arbor Area, to celebrate her life.
Sign the guestbook (2 comments)
Comments posted on this page do not reflect opinions of Forum Communications Company. Forum Communications Company does not endorse and is not responsible for any statement, opinion, advice given or made. All replies are subject to approval and must follow Forum Communications Company guidelines concerning statements of libel, personal attacks or defamation of character. Replies in the "Talk About It" section that criticize a person by name may not be posted, unless that person is openly involved in a public issue. Comments written in all capital letters or bold print will not be considered for inclusion in the forum.