1927 ~ 2013|
Jean Dunkerley (Sunderland) died on Friday, December 13, 2013 in Oak Harbor, Washington of Myelodysplastic Syndrome and Dementia, secondary to metastatic breast cancer.
Jean was born November 7, 1927 in Springhead, County of York, England, to Mark and Alice Dunkerley. In 1945 Jean was awarded a diploma of Nursery Nursing from The National Society of Children's Nurseries, England, and became a proper British Nanny. In 1947 she married John F. Leach (Sunderland). They immigrated to the United States in 1950, with their first son Chris, arriving in Pocatello, Idaho on December 31 (her son's first birthday) "with twenty-seven dollars in our pockets." Soon thereafter they moved to Salt Lake City, where Jean started caring for children in her home. In 1954 Jean bought a home on First Avenue and there founded the Salt Lake Nursery School. A few years later, after significant growth, she changed the name to Children's House of Salt Lake.
Over the next 40 years Children's House became recognized as one of the city's finest day care centers. Children's House was on the forefront of innovation bringing Montessori teaching techniques, foreign language, dance, theatrics, music, licorice ice cream, and so much more to children from two to twelve. Jean and her staff lovingly cared for over 3500 children in the 40 plus years it was in business.
"Miss Jean" finally closed her business in 1990, and with her second husband, Michael Belangie, whom she married in 1975, moved to Whidbey Island, Washington, where the climate and location were more like England. She continued gardening and took up watercolor painting. She also became an active member of Soroptimist International and assisted in founding an emergency day care center on the island. In 1997 she fulfilled a lifelong dream of designing a home, which she and Mike built together.
Jean is remembered for her hard work, her love of gardening and nature, her beautiful voice and her lively spirit, but most of all for her love of children and her playfulness.
Jean is survived by her husband, Michael C. Belangie; Children and spouses, Christopher J. and Marilyn Sunderland, Stephen M. and Joanne Sunderland, Peter M. and Charlotte Sunderland, Melanie J. Sunderland and Christina Rouse; Step-son, Christopher L. Belangie; Grandchildren Alisha H. and Zach T. Norman, Ashley Sunderland, and Brittney Raye Sunderland; Step-grandson, Quinton Belangie; and sister Sheila Packard (the late H. Von Packard).
A Funeral Service will be held at Saint Paul's Episcopal Church on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 1:30 PM for all who wish to pay their respects.
Published in Salt Lake Tribune on Dec. 31, 2013