Jennings, Marcella Grady
March 1, 1920 - March 7, 2013
Marcella Grady Jennings died of heart failure March 7, 2013 at the age of 93 just days after spending a lovely birthday dinner with family and friends. She joins her beloved Leo who left her in 1973, her three sisters Lorraine, Marie and Dorothy and her brother Bill. She leaves her dear daughter Marianne, her devoted Denise, her long time friend Anella. She will also be deeply missed by other close family members such as her nephews Leslie, Dan and Michael and countless friends and admiring acquaintances of all ages. Marcella also leaves behind her second family at the Jonathan Beach Club where for over 50 years she dined, danced and exercised. She joked that her longevity was partially based on her long time diet of a taste of buttermilk in the morning and Bombay Gin at night, more than anything it was based on her enthusiastic outlook and persistent exuberance, no matter what the odds. Marcella has influenced several generations of family and friends with the manner in which she lived her remarkable and inspirational life. We are grateful for her love and life lessons. A private celebration of her life will be held at a later date. Coming from humble beginnings and having lost her father in the beginning of the depression, Marcella and her siblings were raised in a Catholic orphanage in the 1920's and early 30's. It was at the orphanage where she first learned the value of hard work. In those days there were no child labor laws and she and 300 other children worked on their hands and knees scrubbing floors, doing laundry, ironing, cooking and whatever else had to be done, typically for 12 hours a day. Marcella reported the nuns were by far the most influential figures in her childhood. They taught her the three most important lessons, first how to work, second, how to pray and lastly how to be kind and tolerant to her fellow mankind. After of high school she went to work in a cafeteria and when Pearl Harbor was attacked she was 21, she took it upon herself to purchase all the pineapples in every warehouse in Springfield ILL. Always the finance wizard, she knew that there would be a premium for pineapple. Her boss was enraged at the unauthorized purchase of pineapples and fired her on the spot. Dejected, yet determined, she boarded a train for Los Angeles the next day and began her California adventure. She later learned that her boss became very wealthy because of her actions. Marcella made a life for herself as hardworking single women with grit and guile. After working in various capacities which each generate their own remarkable story, she met her sweet Leo in 1948. They were married three years later in 1951. She had over 20 years with the man who met his match. Marcella has always worked hard and has always left ample time for play. Whether she was helping Leo with his Econolite business, pulling calves and painting fences on their ranch in Montana, or playing pool with the young people as a live in landlord, she has inspired generations and left many with mouths wide open in wonder. Despite being born with poor eye sight, which left her entirely over 13 years ago, Marcela always kept a smile on her face and religiously relied on her hard work, resourcefulness and exceptional organizational skills to maintain and thrive in the face of adversity. She thanks ITN for their help in transportation these last few years and Alberto at the Jonathan Club for helping her stay in shape while working out 3 days a week. In responding to an interview once she shared these words of wisdom for us all to learn from "Have enthusiasm in whatever you do as this will make life more cheerful for you and those around you. Keep a sense of humor for the one who can laugh at herself and at life has a rare quality. Serenity is important. A woman who faces life calmly has a strength that others will sense. Kindness and friendliness should be a quality that one should develop. A woman should have pride, not the kind that puts a chip on your shoulder, but the kind of pride that makes one carry their head high, keeps troubles to herself and makes her work for the respect of others rather than for their sympathy. Humility, for the upward climb is long and tough and you meet many detours along the way. To make the grade, you must have faith and the will to try. If you have a certain goal, you will always find a way. Use every failure as a step toward success for if you have a purpose, you are bound to forge ahead." Marcella also wrote "Make a Promise to yourself," that she included in cards to friends, "Promise to always choose the things in life that mean the most to you. Hold on to your dreams, believe in your ideas and follow the voice of your heart. Enjoy the simple pleasures and make laughter an important part of each day. Always remember that play is as essential as hard work. Promise yourself to chose the things that make you happiest because you deserve the very best in life." And finally as her out going voice message says: "Remember, you only live once so enjoy your life every day!"
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Mar. 17, 2013