Jacquelyn Ruth VanBlarcom Fellows, of Gwynedd, PA, formerly of Hamilton, MA, passed away Christmas morning, 2020, at the age of 91. Jaci was an inspiring and dedicated educator, artist, and promoter of women. As a woman of faith, she lived a lifetime in service to others through her church and in her community. Jaci’s greatest love was for her family. Jaci was born April 16, 1929 to Kendall and Ruth Ladd VanBlarcom. She was the oldest child in the family with three younger brothers: Kendall VanBlarcom of Santa Rosa, CA, and Donald VanBlarcom (deceased) and Steve VanBlarcom, both of Pittsfield, MA. Lynn, Massachusetts was her beloved childhood home where she grew up during the Great Depression and World War II surrounded by extended family. After graduating from Lynn English High School, she attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree and making lifelong friends with her Round Robin group. Upon graduating, in June 1951 Jaci married Charles M. Morse, of Danvers, MA. They divorced in January of 1974. Together they had four children: David B. Morse (wife, Susan) of Philadelphia, PA, Diane E. Fleming (husband, Jim) of Manchester, NH, Patti Bear Acuna (husband, Ruben) of Nambe, NM, and Betsy Budrow Down (husband, Steve) of Gloucester, MA. Along with her children, Jaci was blessed with fifteen grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. In 1964, when living in Essex, MA, with a traveling salesman husband and four young children to raise, Jaci returned to her education at Salem State College. She received a Master’s Degree in English. Through classes and seminars, she carried on with her education until she achieved a Master’s + 60. Her long career in education began at the Holton Richmond Jr. High in Danvers, MA. Planning to simply substitute the first day of school in September 1967, she continued on until she was teaching full time. Over her thirty years as an educator, she taught English, History, Future Problem Solving, special needs students and the highly regarded IGE program, until her retirement in 1998 from the Danvers school system. When the family moved to Hamilton, MA in 1966 they became members of Christ Church. Jaci was a prayer partner there, a member of the Alter Guild, vestry member, subdeacon and devoted participant in the Monday night bible study group. In the many churches she belonged to in her lifetime, service remained her lifelong practice. In August of 1977 Jaci fell in love with and married her widowed neighbor Richard Fellows. Both were artists. While Richard painted in oils and watercolors, she wove on her looms and worked with textiles. For many years they spent summers in their cabin on Hobbs Pond outside of Camden, Maine, and exploring Maine’s spectacular coast. They were great travelers, driving the United states and traveling in Europe. When Richard was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Jaci took care of him for 13 years. They participated together in several medical studies to help learn more about the disease. In 1995, after the daily caring of Richard for many years, Richard was enrolled in a research project at McClean Hospital where he stayed apart from Jaci for ten days. With much needed time for herself she visited Adelynrood Retreat and Conference Center in Byfield, MA. She knew of Adelynrood from conferences and “quiet days” she had attended there over the years. But in those ten days, she, in her words, “had long talks with companions, read in the library, rested in the gardens, let someone else prepare my food, and was restored in the chapel.” From then on, Jaci enrolled Richard in daycare one day a week and “went a sojourner to Adelynrood.” There she found sanctuary. Sanctuary that helped sustain her for the next five years of Richard’s illness. In time Jaci was given the honor of being sponsored to become a Companion with The Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross, an international women’s group including both lay and ordained women of the Episcopal Church. Companions from far and wide have their annual summer conference at the Adelynrood Retreat and Conference Center. For seven summers, after Richard died Good Friday morning in the year 2000, Jaci lived at the retreat center serving as Director of Chapel. Moving to Philadelphia, PA in 2007 to be close to her son David and his family, she joined St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church where she again served at the alter and began her journey with Stephen Ministries where she offered compassionate and prayerful support to people in need of it. In her final years Jaci lived at Foulkeways, an independent living and retirement community in Gwynedd, PA., where a number of her fellow Companions also resided. Jaci lived independently at Foulkeways for ten years. Using her artistic talents, she helped design and run the one-time gift shop. She also regularly served as a hospice volunteer. After a serious accident in August of 2020 Jaci’s health went into decline. Jaci is survived by her children, and is predeceased by Charles Morse, Richard Fellows, her stepdaughter Karen Fellows, brother, Donald VanBlarcom, and longtime friends Addison and Mary Schade. Donations may be made in her name to honor the wonderful staff and community at Foulkeways.org, or to the Alzheimer’s Association. Memorials to celebrate Jaci’s long and inspiring life will be held when all can gather safely together again.
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