Gwendolyn Adele Ray JeSchonek is now celebrating with her father, John Kirk Ray, in heaven, having left this world for the next adventure on Saturday, November 11th, 2023 in Madison, Wisconsin.
Finding beauty in art, music, design, quilting, organization, and her surroundings was integral to her being, so she has probably already requested piano and cello lessons, a part in the heavenly choir, her very own quilt show, permission to organize something, and a large plot in heaven to finally create her long-desired Japanese garden!
Gwen’s mission statement was “To create, promote, and inspire places of peace, beauty, and respect within the walls of home and family life.” She was very cognizant of using her spiritual gifts: leadership in tandem with administration, and knowledge in tandem with teaching. She was such a planner and caregiver to her family that years ago she wrote the draft for this obituary and placed it in her “Heaven file”. She found joy creating beauty and order out of chaos. She greeted most people with a greeting or a smile, whether she knew them personally or not.
Gwen was born March 22, 1949, in Phoenixville, PA, and grew up Graterford, PA the oldest of five children: Jacquelyn Marie Longacre, Kenneth Edward Ray, Elizabeth Joan Tickle, Patricia Jane Nicholas. She was one of 80 in the graduating class of Schwenksville High School in 1967. She received a BS in Library Science from Millersville State College in 1971 and an Associate’s Degree in Interior Design from Madison Area Technical College in 1982.
Gwen was project-oriented, so she had multiple career changes and talked about them as her “previous lives.” She enjoyed every one of them: elementary school librarian in Lebanon City School District; multi-media specialist and booking agent for Twentyonehundred Productions in Pasadena and Madison; assistant to Student Training in Missions director of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship; interior designer through her own firm Panache and then Sergenian’s Floor Coverings; independent beauty consultant with Mary Kay Cosmetics; and 23 years at American Girl (Mattel) as an order processor, customer service specialist, doll doctor, correspondent, and ultimately, department assistant for Corporate Product Integrity. In retirement, she poured her artistic and creative talents into quilting and was a member of many groups in the local quilting community. Gwen also functioned as a volunteer in multiple capacities at Grace Episcopal Church, and as a volunteer and staunch supporter for many of her daughter’s (Stephanie Beth JeSchonek) activities. According to her daughter’s friends, she gave the best themed birthday parties ever!
In addition to Stephanie, her handsome husband Kenn (Kenneth Wayne JeSchonek, Sr.) gave her two amazing stepchildren, Kenneth Wayne JeSchonek Jr (Melchora) of Las Vegas and The Philippines, and Kimberly Paige JeSchonek Bautz of Madison/Deerfield, and two granddaughters, Rachel and Sarah. She is also survived by her mother, Adele Margaret Jewitt Ray and “grandpupper” Korbel.
To celebrate her life, a joyous memorial service with music and Holy Eucharist will be held on Sunday, December 17th, 2023 at 3:00 pm in the main Sanctuary of Grace Episcopal Church, 116 West Washington Ave, Madison, WI. For those who wish to participate, members of the Grace Healing Prayer Team will be available at 2:00pm in the chapel to offer individual prayer, thanksgivings, and consolations. An informal reception will follow in the church Guild Hall. You are invited to bring a photograph of Gwen to be displayed at the reception and left with her family.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to one of three organizations: Madison Youth Choirs, Music con Brio, Grace Episcopal Church, all in Madison, Wisconsin. Gwen made an impact in the world through her volunteer involvement in these three endeavors and would like to see her influence and support continue. She was widely loved and will be deeply missed.
Alleluia! He is risen…and so is she!