Published in the July 19, 2016 edition.

stellaobit-webWAKEFIELD — Jeannie M. (Hawkes) Stella, 65, of Wakefield died on Friday, July 15.

A direct descendant of John Quincy Adams, she was born in Lynn to her mother Grace M. (LaPointe) Hawkes and father Albert Otis Hawkes. Jeannie’s no-nonsense approach to finding the truth and solving life’s problems was rooted in her strong Catholic (Christian) faith and the Bible. Jeannie’s mother, who was a convert to Catholicism, taught her how to recognize the truth in the Bible while her father told her that when she believed in something to “stick to her guns,” which she always did. She felt very strongly that laws enacted since the 1970s by the federal and state government were depriving us of our freedom of religion.

Jeannie’s mother died when she was 9 years old. After her mother’s death, Jeannie was placed in various foster homes in different neighborhoods in Lynn and eventually in Nazareth in Jamaica Plain which was a Catholic girls’ home for older unwanted foster-children. During her stay in various foster homes, she treated each family with love and respect. She was always willing to do the right thing and tried desperately to be a part of each family.

Al and Edna Smith, who resided at 231 Salem St. (now a Buddhist Temple), took Jeannie into their home when she was 16 years old upon the insistence of their only daughter, Julie. Jeannie went to Wakefield Memorial High School in her senior year and graduated in 1968. The Smiths accommodated 106 foster children in their home over many years and adopted three of those children.

Jeannie graduated from Mansfield Beauty Academy on Boylston Street in Boston. For 28 years, she proudly served the women of Wakefield and the surrounding area as their hairdresser. Little did she know, she could have had a state college education at no cost due to her lineage.

In September 1991, Jeannie was given an opportunity to continue living her life when one of her foster sisters, Cheryl (Smith) Carr, donated a kidney to her. Jeannie willingly accepted it. The doctors at Mass. General Hospital performed the operation and aftercare. Jeannie had the kidney for 16½ years before it failed due to her body’s toxicity to immuno-suppressive medication.

Jeannie underwent dialysis treatments while she diligently worked at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital as a medical transcriptionist for 13 years until she could no longer efficiently function in that capacity due to her failing health in 2007.

Jeannie was an avid craft woman. There was always something to make: a wedding dress; a communion suit; and eight 4 ft. x 8 ft. O. J. afghans while watching the O. J. Simpson trial. She was a frugal woman who was always willing to forgo luxury items for herself so she could give selflessly to others.

Her survivors include her husband Sam Stella of 43 years; her birth sister Patty Morse of Sarasota, Fla.; Jeannie and Sam’s foster-children: Gina, Tommy, Bianca and Christopher. Her foster sisters Cheryl (Smith) Carr; Kathy (Acye) Driscoll; Susan Carr and Chrissie Bavin. Her foster brothers: John Smith; Christopher Smith; Brian Smith; Arthur Acye and Billy Bavin.

She follows her mother and father, her foster mother and foster father and other relatives into eternal life. She was forever thankful for the extended life she had. She loved and was loved by many with very few regrets.

Her funeral will be held from the McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Ave., Wakefield on Thursday at
9 a.m. followed by a funeral Mass in St. Joseph Church, 173 Albion St., Wakefield at 10 a.m.

Visitation for relatives and friends will be held at the Funeral Home on Wednesday from 4-8 p.m. Interment will be at Forest Glade Cemetery in Wakefield.