Jeannette was born on September 27, 1939, in Shanghai, China. Having lived through the Communist invasion, her family was commanded to leave and move into the Hongkew Ghetto where she was smuggled out twice to get more nourishment. Later her family was fortunate enough to move in with the Young family for several years. It was during this time that they referred to Jeannette as their “little Jewish Sister”.
Once the war was finally over, she lived a good life in China. She attended a British school, played with Chinese children and traveled through China getting to see the mountains near Beijing and visited sites near Nanjing.
Unfortunately, Communism eventually enveloped all of China and her family once again had to flee, waiting for the United Nations to get them out via Tientsin as Shanghai’s harbor was already mined and too dangerous. They made their way to San Francisco via a troop ship and then by train to Ellis Island and eventually was sent to a Displaced Persons camp in Bremen, Germany. As one of the “Shanghai Group” she and her parents were the small group of Jews who fled the Nazis for Shanghai, China as this had become the last safe haven when various countries around the world closed their doors to the Jews, including the United States. Ironically, due to the extension of the Displaced Persons Act of 1948, the only way Jeannette and her parents could obtain admission to the United States was by first having to go to Germany.
Eventually, they were able to obtain Visas to the US and settled in Cleveland, Ohio where they had distant cousins who sponsored the family.
Though her childhood was challenging, she excelled in her schooling and ultimately graduated from Harvard and Brandeis University with two Masters degrees in English.
Her career spanned teaching at Stevenson and Edison Elementary, being named Teacher of the Year 1978 for the State of Ohio, and then Principal at Wellington. She had a deep appreciation of art, love for travel and history and was a passionate champion for children and animals, having owned eight cats in her later years, along with a later addition – a greyhound named Peach. Family, friends and all who knew her always saw a smile on her face, loved her wit and snark, and her many stories growing up.
Jeannette passed away on July 15, 2023. She is survived by Dietkin, her cousin in England and predeceased by her husband John and parents Hans and Eva Luedecke.
A celebration of life will be held at Epstein Memorial on Sunday, July 30 at 1:00 p.m. ( The service will be live streamed here. )
In lieu of flowers, a donation to Columbus Humane Society in her honor can be made.