Jean Marie Fite
Jean Marie Fite -- a beloved wife, mother, family member and expert engineer -- passed away on June 11, 2020, from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. She was 48.
Jeanie, as she was almost universally known, was born on Aug. 24, 1971, in Waco, Texas, to Paul Rountree and Mary Tillman, the younger of two daughters. The family moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1973, where Jeanie graduated from Mount St. Mary Academy in 1989.
She graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1996 with a degree in industrial engineering. After graduating, she went to work for Dillard's Department Stores as a distribution center engineer. Her skill at making processes more efficient led to increased responsibilities with Dillard's across multiple distribution centers, the opening of new distribution centers on the east coast, the design and launch of their eCommerce fulfillment center outside Little Rock and the creation of a supply chain analytics team. She later did similar work at The Container Store starting in 2014. In 2016, Jeanie was inducted into the University of Arkansas Academy of Industrial Engineering.
But it was back in Fayetteville that Jeanie met fellow industrial engineer Jonathon Fite. They married there in May 1998 and had two sons, Jackson and James, in the next few years. At different times, the family lived in Fort Worth, Houston and Little Rock, but they loved Denton and settled there permanently.
Jeanie received her ALS diagnosis in the summer of 2016. The disease slowly robs people of muscle control, forcing them to constantly adjust to "new normals" of decreased mobility, speech and eventually, breath. It is a testament to Jeanie's tremendous emotional strength that she defined the last four years of her life by what she was able to do at a given moment and not by what she could no longer do. Her boundless love led her to devote that energy to her many friends and family.
She lived her last years to the fullest, traveling sometimes great distances to visit family, attend concerts or sporting events, all in the midst of family schedules full of work, church, school, and sports. She made treats for her sons' golf team, and even when she could no longer speak, she kept up a constant stream of communication with friends and family via social media. The Fites' home had a continuous flow of visitors, and Jeanie's church family at St. Andrew Presbyterian was also a source of joy and connection.
Music was particularly important to Jeanie. Among the ways she connected with friends and family was by demanding playlists of their top 50 songs, and she shared her own playlists frequently. From her parents, Jeanie inherited a love of gardening; even during the last week of life, she took joy in what will be a bumper crop of tomatoes and peppers this year.
Jeanie is her survived by her husband, Jonathon Fite; sons Jackson and James; father Paul (Susan) Rountree; sister Amy (Chris Murphy) Rountree; stepsister Rachel (Spencer) Klotzmann; stepbrother Cole (Amber) Fiser; stepfather Drew Bullerdick; as well as many beloved aunts, uncles, in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her mother, Mary Tillman Bullerdick, and her stepmother Phyllis Rountree.
A memorial service will be held 2:00 pm on Saturday, June 20th at Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church in Denton, Texas. The service will be streamed to multiple venues across the church to facilitate social distancing mandates. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the ALS Therapy Development Institute.
Published in Denton Record-Chronicle on Jun. 14, 2020.