By Jonathan Courtwright
Jean (Haladay) Yentile was born in Wakefield to a religious family. She grew up with her brothers and sisters, attending church every Sunday. From her parents, who had been married for 65 years, she learned the meaning of commitment and hard work.
The day after graduating from high school, Jean got a position at the Wakefield Savings Bank, where she would work for a couple of years. Jean would then transfer to a different company at the Lakeside Office Park. She was there for a year and a half until a new opportunity came into her life. The company she was working for moved the department from Wakefield to Connecticut. Jean was one of the few people to be chosen for the position. She was only twenty years old and had a chance to explore a new chapter in her life. Jean decided to make the move with a friend, but they were unable to get an apartment due to their young age.
Jean was disappointed to miss her opportunity, but that proved to be a good thing in the long run. Had she moved to Connecticut, she would have never met her future husband. James grew up in the neighboring town of Wilmington. They met while working at a company called Transitron and have been married for fifty-one years. They have three children, named Kristi, Courtney, and Michael.
Jean became a stay-at-home mom, and when her last child, Michael, went to school, Jean held part-time positions at different jobs; then she went on to become an Office Manager at an employment agency in Boston. She continued to work full-time until retirement then realized how important it was for her to stay connected with people and give back to her community. She started to work at the Galvin Middle School where she helped serve lunch for the students. She loves seeing the children run in and says that seeing all the smiles on their faces brightens up her day.
Jean has had some tough times in her life but none more tragic than the passing of her daughter, Courtney. She says that losing a child means your heart is broken forever, and it is hard to keep going without her. But there is one thing that you can do, and that is to tell their story and honor them; she is turning her grief and deep pain into purpose. Jean decided to do that by helping people in need or struggling. She recently came upon a quote that exemplifies this attitude – “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” Jean tries to live up to this ideal every day. She is the vice president of the Wakefield Alliance Against Violence, a group that tries to work to prevent domestic violence, and she is also involved in Wake-Up, a local community group that promotes healthy relationships. In everything she does, Jean has one goal in mind, to make a difference.