The Country Friends members gather in Rancho Santa Fe for special memorial for longtime volunteer Jean Newman


By Karen Billing

For more than 35 years, Jean Newman had a presence in The Country Friends organization and even more so in the last 10 years at the village Consignment Shop as its lively manager. The dedicated community volunteer passed away on Dec. 8, 2013 and the loving Friends she left behind held a memorial for her at the shop on March 5.

“I worked with her for a year and a half, I was her shadow,” said Yvette Letourneau, the consignment shop’s new manager. “I miss her laughter.”

Country Friends President Rhonda Tryon said it was true, you could hear their laughter trickling down the stairs at the shop as they worked side by side.

“She had such a sense of humor and her laughter was very infectious,” said Letourneau. “I’ll always remember that and how she loved coming here every day. This was her life.”

For many years, Newman volunteered at the shop alongside her daughter, Suzanne. As a member of The Country Friends, Newman was also involved in events such as The Country Friends’ popular annual fashion show. Fellow Friends remember Newman for her sharp wit, her “kindness and lovely grace” and as “a true gem” and beloved mentor, committed to serving others in the community.

Tryon said that Newman was also admired and appreciated for her knowledge in the shop, she knew the history behind items and would know just who to call if an item came in that she thought someone might like.

“Yvette has big shoes to fill but Jean did a beautiful job teaching her and I think Yvette will take the reins and make Jean proud,” Tryon said.

As part of the memorial, The Country Friends commissioned a portrait of Newman that was presented to her daughter, Suzanne. Friends also collected photos, stories and anecdotes of Newman that were complied into an album for her family.