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Jean Black Lorenzetti, 85, died of cancer on 8/12/22, but she lived to lead adventures in learning. For 22 years she taught eighth grade English, Literature, and World Cultures at Baker Junior High in Fairborn, OH; so, it’s no surprise that no matter where Jean went, the policeman, the waitress, the author, and even eventually a hospice nurse would shyly approach her and say, “I bet you don’t remember me.” Always, Jean would reach for a hand and say, “Wait. Don’t tell me.” What is surprising is that no matter how deeply hidden in a middle-aged face the former eighth grade student might be, Jean found the name, recalled which seat in the classroom they had occupied, and even remembered whether they had played the part of an inanimate wall or perhaps an impromptu Romeo in 5th period in room 153. Her living legacy, inspiring students to be readers and writers and to have fun with language and life, was on full display each time a former student worked the phrase, “Take thy beak from out my heart” into a chance meeting, and begged to know if they could still get extra credit.
A two-time teacher of the year, her prized possessions were the four Howard L. Post Excellence in Education Awards which hung in her home, reminding her that four Fairborn valedictorians or salutatorians had named her the most influential teacher in their educational career, and the metal filing cabinet drawer overflowing with pictures and letters from past students with the common sentiments, ‘You changed my life,’ or ‘you cared about me even when I was having a hard time caring about myself.’ She was the yearbook advisor, the National Junior Honor Society Advisor, the Power of the Pen Coach, the Muse Machine Advisor, and a mentor to the Young Author Writing Program. There were even years when she coached basketball and track.
In retirement, you’d find Jean leading children on nature adventures at the Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm. Her heavy trail pack overflowed with geology samples and magnifying glasses. She volunteered weekly at the Fairborn FISH Food Pantry. She loved reading, watching old flicks, and gathering with her retired teacher friends and knitting ladies.
As beloved as Jean was to her community, she was even more important to her family. Jean was preceded in death by her parents Gerald and Ruth Black, by her brother Richard Black and his wife Mary Ann, and by her niece Patricia Murphy. She is survived by her husband of 62 years, Robert Lorenzetti. Fellow adventurers, Jean and Bob explored the United States for 22 years during Bob’s Air Force career and traveled the world for fun in retirement. For 62 years, Jean staved off boredom in the kitchen by cooking recipes with weird ingredients and Bob never shied away from taste-testing them. Jean is also survived by her children Daniel Lorenzetti and wife Jennifer, David Lorenzetti and wife Pim, Peter Lorenzetti and wife Christine, Debra Miller and husband Evan, her brother Robert Black and wife Rosalie, and her grandchildren Chase Miller and wife Julie, Benjamin Lorenzetti, Joseph Lorenzetti and wife Natalie, Audra Miller, Maleah Miller, and Natara Lorenzetti. Jean never missed a game, forgot a birthday, or overlooked the opportunity to tell a long-winded whopper around a campfire.
Jean was a private person and following her wishes there will be no formal memorial service. In time, her family will gather to celebrate her life. For now, we will respect what Jean knew all along: her memorial was never meant to be a church service, a plaque, or a gravestone, but rather the memories and the love of learning she gifted to the people whose lives she changed forever.
In lieu of flowers, the family prefers that donations be made to Fairborn FISH (www.fishfairborn.com/donate) (Fairborn FISH PO Box 1484 Fairborn, OH 45324) or to Friends of Aullwood (Aullwood.audubon.org)