Obituary: Truda “T.” Jewett
Truda Cleeves Jewett, May 14, 1931 to October 18, 2017.
Truda “T.” Jewett died peacefully at home on October 18, 2017.
She lived an extraordinary life.
She spent her childhood in Marblehead, MA, Keeseville, NY and Fort Myers, FL. She was the oldest of six siblings, whose bonds were forged through love and solidarity mixed with considerable mischief.
In Marblehead, T. shared a love for sailing and racing with Link Jewett. Their meeting — on a boat, of course — was inevitable. They married in 1954. In Link, T. had found a partner whose sense of curiosity about the world and love for travel aligned with her own. At the same time, he was her lighthouse, giving her the bearings to explore ever farther afield yet always find her way back to safe harbor.
T. and Link spent the early years of the marriage in Cambridge, MA and Washington, DC. In DC, T took up golf and within months became women’s champion at Congressional Country Club, a title she held for three years running. They moved in 1963 to Darien, CT, where they raised their two daughters, Lisa and Lolly, and have remained since. Between them they logged countless hours and nautical miles on successive powerboats, Sam Cat and Sam Cat II.
From an early age T. had a mind of her own, along with the daring and adventurousness to put it to good use. She traveled to dozens upon dozens of countries around the earth — throughout Europe, Eurasia, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. Among these ventures was an epic trek in the early 1970s to the Mount Everest base camp, where she tested her endurance and forged some of her closest lifelong friends. She especially adored Mexico and India, whose bright colors, tastes and sounds complemented her own spirit. She also traveled throughout the U.S., seeing much of it from the decks of boats large and small, cruising on oceans, lakes, rivers and inland waterways.
In the 1970s, T. channeled her talents through a camera, winning multiple awards for her distinctive black and white images and, with her business, Jewett Photography, capturing portraits of many families in Darien and the surrounding communities.
T. considered herself a Bostonian, but New York was the city that most captured her imagination and matched her own energy. She plugged into the city through a small and much-loved studio apartment on the East side of Manhattan; through the arts, including the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the ballet, and the museums, not to mention Broadway, off-Broadway, and off-off-Broadway; and through work — primarily raising millions of dollars in funds to support New York’s youth. She served as executive director of the Coro Foundation, director of development at the Children’s Aid Society, and as a consultant to the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center. In the midst of this, she earned a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
She proudly served as a trustee on the boards of the New Canaan Winter Club; the Darien Library; Kimball Union Academy; Outward Bound; the National Theater of the Deaf; the Vietnam Children’s Fund in Hanoi, Vietnam; the Edwin Gould Foundation; the American Farm School in Thessaloniki, Greece; the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Global Impact Funding Trust; Wireless Generation; the Harvard Alumni Association; the Harvard Club of New York; and National Public Radio’s Story Corps.
Even more impressive than her professional accomplishments was her gift with people. She knew intuitively how to make whoever she was with feel special. She could carry on an engaging conversation with anyone, whether a world-famous composer, an elementary-school nephew, the President of the United States, or the checkout cashier at her favorite grocery store. Indeed, she took countless young people under her wing, getting them started in new areas of interest, academic pursuits and careers.
Her secret superpower was persuasion. At one time or another, she has convinced everyone who knew her well to do things they didn’t believe they had in them. Sometimes she convinced them to do things they suspected did not constitute good judgment. But if only for the stories they lived to tell, rarely did anyone regret following her lead.
She brought great joy and inspiration to everyone she touched.
T. is survived by her husband, Charles Lincoln (Link) Jewett, her daughters, Lisa Jewett and Laura (Lolly) Jewett, her sons-in-law, Joseph Remski and Abner Oakes, her grandson, Charles Jewett Oakes, her sister, Susan Ard, and her brothers, David Cleeves and Michael Barba. Her sisters Lynn Simard, Gretchen Raskin and Helen Fuller predeceased her.
The family extends particular appreciation to Loly Jones, Wendy Hlongwane, Joyce Ayensu, Marlene Spahr, and Purity Manyara, who provided invaluable care and friendship to T. in her final months.
A celebration of her life will be held at 1:00 p.m. on November 10, 2017 at Wee Burn Country Club.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to one of the organizations T. so loved.