When good friends walk beside us,
On the trails that we must keep,
Our burdens seem less heavy,
And the hills are not so steep.
The weary miles pass swiftly,
Taken in a joyous stride,
And all the world seems brighter,
When friends walk by our side.
My Countess, my sister, my friend. How many happy hours we spent together. Reaching back to childhood and Mayfair Mansions in Washington DC across the years and miles to beautiful Tahiti….together. The joy, pain and many shared experiences will dance, as you did, through my memory and heart for a lifetime. I will always remember your beautiful spirit for expanding my life in many ways. A regal Countess, my Countessa!
You were legal council when I needed a helping hand, travel companion, always a wonderful holiday guest, comrade and a friend with whom I enjoyed exchanging our incredible victories and defeats. We dug our heels in when we needed to and cried for each other through the tough times. Your elegance, competence, strength and delight with life are rivaled only by your many accomplishments. Moreover, you were a very feminine, regal beauty with hair of fire and light and a laugh that rang with delight to the heavens. I enjoyed our hundreds of talks including our last long talks over that self-made breakfast on the porch of bungalow # 32 on the beautiful island of Moorea, French Polynesia, just this past November. And life was good still as we shopped, laughed, ate, found Cooks Bay, traversed the jungle area to the falls, were drenched in the rain and yes, cried in the end. We had so much fun in Mexico, Bermuda, Tahiti, Palm Springs, Las Vegas and many other destinations. Our Sunday morning catch up conversations and political brawls were the best.
Your remarkable career befits a true Countess. From childhood in Mayfair Mansions you moved quickly through life attending Washington D.C. schools, graduating from McKinley Tech High with honors. Everyone remembers your flaming, long red hair and flute playing and the drive that catapulted you to the pinnacle of success with a thriving private law practice in Costa Mesa, California. With practice areas that included Collections and Enforcement of Judgments, Business Law, Construction Defect and Real Estate, you somehow managed to find time to express your passion for flying by practicing Aviation Law as well. Privately your corporate clients were raving fans as you successfully litigated on their behalf in many southern California courts, including Los Angeles.
You were the only woman in your graduating class to receive a BSEE degree from Howard University. You then received an MBA from New York University, before graduating from Harvard Law School in the top 10% of your class. Your initial years with a Beverly Hills law firm provided the foundation for success. To your credit professional affiliations included the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association, Orange County Bar Association, Commercial Law League of America, and United States Court of International Trade, to name a few. Just in recent months and with great strength and fortitude, you traveled to Washington, D.C., to be sworn in to practice law before the Federal Bench. We are also proud that you served on the Executive Committee of Free Arts for Abused Children, and the Charter 100 where you met and grew to admire Cicilia Goodman, a true friend and admirer. All of your dear friends and colleagues will miss your great contributions.
Mother Daisy and Daddy Lincoln Pease wanted nothing less than excellence from their beautiful children and they, more than anyone else, were so very proud of all that you are and ever were. You were the oldest of five children born and raised in Washington, D.C. You and your two brothers, Sterling Dean and Neil Noble Pease, were like stair steps, born one year apart. The three of you grew up together. You were terribly saddened when your youngest brother, Neil, died in a car accident in May of 1993. Your sisters Holiday Pease Jones and India P. Laws came into your life many years later and they looked up to you with adulation and love. Brandon, your very successful son and his beautiful wife Cyndy, and Princeton the newest baby “Royal” all enjoy knowing that your love and generous spirit are always theirs to share and enjoy. Tom Jeffries, your former husband, Brandon’s Dad and Princeton’s grandpa, always patient and steadfast while capturing the essence of your most recent life and times with his camera.
While your spirit endures, you will be missed so much by your earthbound sisters Holiday and India. Full of love and pride as she speaks of you, India says you were her big sister, mentor, confidant, heroine, buddy, advisor and so much more. She admired and adored you more than anyone else in the world, and her heart is broken that you had to leave so soon. India hopes and prays that you are walking with Daddy and looking down upon them, now in the role of guardian angel. “Countess always said that she believed in living life to the fullest, and we think she did exactly that. In fact, she lived the life of three people. She accomplished so much, influenced so many people, was loved by so many, and left an impression wherever she went. Countess’s life was lived with the charm, charisma and diplomacy that one might expect from someone with the name Countess.”
India went on to say that some of her fondest memories of Countess include many visits to her home in California over the twenty-five-plus years since she moved there from the East coast. “I generally made visits with my big sister an annual event. We always had a ball together, hanging out, shopping, partying, flying, going to the beach or spa and enjoyed many side trips to Vegas, Mexico and Palm Springs.” Countess loved to experiment with India’s hair color and hair cut. We spent many hours together while Countess was doing India’s hair or makeup! They always told people that Countess was good enough to be a professional stylist. For Countess, hair and make-up were sheer fun to dabble in.
India shared with Countess an incredible love for animals. “Countess always had a dog or cat or both. Nothing brought her more pleasure than to walk along the beach with Rusty, her last doggie, playing Frisbee. And Sheba was the most regal, spoiled kitty in the state!” India remembers Stella, the large white German shepherd, who used to lean against her legs with her full body weight and who would have slept on her head if allowed. And Lucky the cat, found and adopted near Lucky Grocery Store, and who ended up not to be so "lucky" after all. India recalls loud and messy birds Countess kept for years. “Those birds were so funny; they would chirp, scream and cackle so loud one minute and as soon as we walked into the room they fell into dead silence.”
India also fondly remembers when Countess took her flying over Malibu and for lunch on Catalina Island. The plane was small and the turbulence was strong, but India didn't let Countess see her gripping the back of the seat with white knuckles! “We miss her so much! She was stunning, smart, stylish, outgoing, friendly, generous, and spiritual and had such a good heart.” Countess had the ability to leave a lasting impression on folks she met only once as many as thirty years ago!
India is blessed with a daughter, Maya, who reminds everyone so much of Countess, and who looks just like Countess did when she was a young girl. “I am just sorry that our children did not have more time with their beautiful Auntie but we know she will live in our minds and hearts and memories forever. There will never be another Countess Pease Jeffries.”
Holiday has many loving and fond memories of Countess as well. One of her earliest is when Countess was the lead majorette for Mr. White’s band, and she was the mascot majorette. She vividly remembers teaching Countess to twirl the baton so that they would be in step while twirling together in the parades.
“Countess, you were a child prodigy and never have I met or seen one such as you. You did everything and did it well. You excelled in school, always at the top of your class. From Nevell Thomas Elementary to Browne Jr. High right thru McKinley Tech, Valedictorian always. You even played the flute at your high school graduation. Our wonderful father was a prolific photographer and captured many of your stellar moments on film. There are literally hundreds of pictures of all of us, but more of you as the first born child.”
As a youngster your activities included roller skating, ice skating, majorettes, playing the flute, modeling (as an infant right through your teenage years), and you were also a debutante. I also vividly remember that as a high school student you were selected to represent Washington, DC, as a contestant in a nationwide search for a cosmetics company. You flew to New York City to become one of the top ten contestants.
Holiday also remembers the remarkable talent Countess had for foreign languages. Among them were Spanish, Portuguese, French and some Latin. Countess was eloquent, proficient and had an excellent command of the English language as well. “I remember how Countess enjoyed talking with my husband, Mervyn. The two of you would blend your great minds in conversation.” You were a wonderful “Auntie Countess” to my three children Mervyn A. Jones, III (better known as Jay), Amal Lincoln Jones and Sierra Noelle Jones. All three children greatly loved and admired you.
I remember when you took the boys out for the day, during a visit to our home in Fort Washington, MD. Amal was about 13 months old and Jay was 6 years old. You took the boys swimming at a local pool and then to a nearby small airport. They enjoyed talking with you about planes and flying. You sat Amal on a plane and miraculously, his normally quiet demeanor turned into a chatterbox personality talking excitedly for more than two hours. I am so happy that you shared your love of flying with my boys.
“Countess, Countess, Countess, I will miss you forever and forever will you be in my heart. I know that you are in heaven right now with Daddy, Uncle Carl, Uncle Royce, Neil and our grandparents. Also nearby are all of our pets and yours too. Love you forever and ever girl.”
My Countessa, how lucky you are to have had so many wonderful experiences with your friends as well. Brandy Raphael was and still is a loyal friend, legal support, and colleague. She went to bat for your practice and you always thought she was so good with making contacts and talking clients into seeing this your way. Brandy was truly in the trenches with you in every way. By your side not just at work but during treatments and through to the day of your transition. Your devoted office staff also loved you and supported all of your endeavors. You frequently spoke of them and were proud to have such a wonderful and capable team.
Caprice Collins was your cohort at Harvard law and comrade across the years. So many happy times spent with Caprice, Al, Jason, Yvonne and Jeffrey, your Godson. What joyous times you shared on frequent visits to their estate at Los Gaviotos, Mexico. Caprice truly loved you like no one else. She shared your love of the law and walked with you every step of the way through this, your final challenge. When it was time to say goodbye to Rusty, your beloved companion, you entrusted his care to Caprice and family knowing that the love you felt for Rusty would be multiplied by the Collins family. And so Rusty is in their care and thriving happily.
I remember how excited you were when you became an ordained Minister just in time to marry Dr. Liz and hubby in Seattle. In front of many family and friends, you performed the ceremony. I love the photo of you and the beautiful bride. Dr. Liz Covington was also your caring physician advocate through the breast cancer trauma, traveled with you to Texas for enzyme treatment and provided a light at the end of the tunnel for your safe passage.
Always an admirer, Laura remembers how special every occasion was for you when you appeared decked to the nines in a St. John knit suit and white boots for a casual family dinner a few years ago. “Always elegant and taking the greatest advantage of every moment” said Laura. Her family will never forget your elegant style and sparkling personality.
What a great time we, your devoted friends and family, shared with you in Tacoma, Washington, where we helped Brandon marry Cyndy all over again, Cambodian style. You spoke of Julie so often and her missions to Mexico’s outback with medical supplies and food. Christopher Troy, such a talented and famous musician and friend, loved and admired you always; Gerard, your flying companion who flew with you to many interesting destinations; Jackie, your trusted ally and great friend will all miss you along; Rosemary and Jean, your neighbors who helped you through many crises, cared for your pets in your absence and were always there for you. Paulo, you must be missing Countess too. She loved you and said you were one of the most generous men she has ever known. She said you never once came to her doorstep empty-handed. We will all miss your whimsical, co-ed smile; your gentle, polite personal demeanor; and your strong professional conduct.
And finally, as I reminisce about you so often these days, I remember that you loved royal blue and turquoise, shopping for bargains, fitted clothing, travel, flying, good jazz, knits, purring like a kitty, power naps, early mornings with coffee, warm feet under thick socks, delicious food, walking Rusty, China’s home cooking packed to go, Sunday Morning news commentaries, elegant gowns, anything that sparkles, driving fast while listening to CDs, the ocean, showing off the town of Huntington Beach and your beach house, Latin dancing, extravagant jewels, speaking Spanish, shopping for friends, email, designer clothes, Jeffries Advocates Newsletter, going to work, bright colors, all kinds of music like the Dixie Chicks, Luther Vandross, BabyFace Marc Anthony, your pretty kitty Sheba and me.
I love you too my Countessa and we will have more fun in days to come. Memories of times well spent will hold me; until then,
Your friend always,
China (AKA Mamacita)