by Joy Hogge
This past October the world lost an amazing, charming, larger-than-life advocate and icon when the much-beloved founder of Families as Allies, Tessie Schweitzer, passed away far too soon and long before any of us had a chance to be ready or say goodbye. On Sunday, April 18, the earthly life of her sweet husband Jack came peacefully to an end as well.
Those of you who knew Jack and Tessie know that they loved each other without measure. Jack devotedly supported Tessie in her work with Families as Allies, and through that came to be known and loved by the staff and board. The current and former board and staff of Families as Allies will miss Jack dearly, and we offer our deepest sympathy and sweetest love to his family.
So many precious memories of Jack have gone through my mind these past few days. I’ve also been thinking about the lessons I was reminded of through knowing him.
Jack was brilliant. He worked at Mississippi Public Broadcasting for years and was well-read, especially about history and politics. He knew a lot but shared what he knew in an understandable way. I was particularly touched when he did that about the rights of people in the midst of turbulent times. Jack reminded me of the value of calm thoughtfulness in the midst of a world that can be chaotic.
Jack was focused on details and organization. I remember standing, somewhat confusedly, with him in the midst of my not-too-organized kitchen during a big dinner and him gently suggesting ways we could move from one course to the next. He became my favorite dinner guest to be organized with after that night and helped me many more times. Jack reminded me of the benefits of being both organized and kind.
The reason Jack was in the kitchen with me that night is that Tessie had instructed him to get up and help me. I am sure those of you who knew Tessie are both smiling and nodding at that image. I whispered to him it was okay if he didn’t listen to what she said — that I didn’t always listen. He smiled, but he also looked at Tessie with unfettered adoration and unconditional love. I saw that love on both of their faces many times. Jack (and Tessie) reminded me of the importance of recognizing and clinging to that kind of love.
It is so hard to lose special people, especially two within a few short months of each other. But they both left us so much. May the sweet lives they lived and the lessons we learned from them bring all of us comfort.
Services will be held on Wednesday, April 21 at 10:00 am at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in downtown Jackson with visitation from 9:00 am to 10:00 am. You can read his obituary here.