Jessie "Jay" McNutt (Colella)
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AGE: 82 • Wilmington
Passed away peacefully in her sleep on Friday, January 24th at Shipley Manor in Wilmington. She is survived by her beloved daughter, Margaret McNutt, cherished granddaughter, Leah Brooks, and devoted companion, William Dwyer.
Jay was born at home in Wilmington on Palm Sunday, March 29, 1931, to Joseph and Jennie (Amatuzio) Colella. She was named Jessie for her grandmother Giacinta, which means "hyacinth" in Italian. When Jay was a baby, her father died in a truck accident and her mother later married Joseph D'Agostino, who became her stepfather. She had six brothers and sisters.
Jay grew up in Wilmington as well as Hammonton, NJ, where she and her family lived on a ranch where her father raised foxes. In Hammonton, she attended St. Joseph's School and later in Delaware, St. Paul's School, Bayard Junior High and Wilmington High School.
A tireless and energetic individual, Jay started working as soon as she was old enough. After stints at the old Warner's Theater, Woolworth's and other Wilmington establishments, she joined the United States Air Force as a flight traffic specialist. She relished the opportunity to travel, transporting soldiers, their families and cargo from Washington State to Alaska, Japan and elsewhere in the Pacific. For her efforts, she earned the National Defense Service Medal. Upon returning to Wilmington, she worked for Farmer's Bank.
Later on, she discovered the ideal outlet for her incredible style, creativity and love of people, becoming a cosmetologist and instructor at the Delaware Beauty College. For many years, she operated her own hair styling business, serving her "ladies" and their families, many of whom became close friends. Later on in life, she worked for Cigna and AIG. Her friends there will remember not only her work ethic and cheerful personality but also her elaborate, prize-winning Halloween costumes which transformed her into Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor and Dolly Parton, among others.
Jay shared her love of singing, theater, travel, reading and animals with her family and friends. She was a wonderful storyteller and enjoyed recounting her many adventurous (and sometimes naughty) childhood escapades. She will be missed for her warmth, selflessness and sense of humor, as well as her relentless determination and resilience in the face of adversity. No matter what challenges she faced, Jay coped the best she could while still bringing joy and laughter to those around her.
Heartfelt thanks go to the staff who offered care and friendship to Jay and her family at Christiana and Wilmington Hospitals, Ingleside Apartments and especially Shipley Manor.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend the service at Krienen-Griffith Funeral Home, 1400 Kirkwood Hwy., Elsmere on Thursday, January 30 at 5:00 pm. Friends may call at the funeral home from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Jay's memory for children's programs at the Delaware Nature Society, P.O. Box 700, Hockessin DE 19707.
Published in The News Journal from Jan. 27 to Jan. 29, 2014
Krienen-Griffith Funeral Home
1400 Kirkwood Hwy Elsmere, DE 19805