Jeanette G. Neagu
December 28, 1939 - February 8, 2021
Jeanette Neagu (née D’Arcy) passed away at 81 years of age on February 8, 2021 at Franciscan Health Hospital in Michigan City, Indiana. Daughter of Ellis and Grace D’Arcy, Jeanette was born two months premature in Chicago, Illinois on December 28, 1939. Jeanette was a graduate of the American Conservatory of Music (B.A., concentration in piano), and the University of Chicago (M.S.W.). She was raised in Chicago, IL and Ogden Dunes, IN, later moving to Michigan City, IN where she raised her family, many dogs, and became an active member of the community. Although suffering from debilitating arthritis, she was a supportive mother, devoted wife, loving sister, loyal friend, counselor, activist, television host, champion dog breeder, co-founder of Takoda Dog Kennels, and a business owner. She did it all with enthusiasm and optimism!
Jeanette cherished her family above all. Wife of George Victor Neagu (1928- 2017), she was a proud partner and caregiver until his passing. She is missed by her children: Eric V. Neagu (Porter, IN), Nevin L. Neagu (Michigan City, Indiana), and Erin-Jeanne O’Donnell (Newton, Massachusetts) and their spouses. She was stepmother to Mara Boroditsky, Monica Cates, and Martin Neagu. She loved her many grandchildren: Jessica, Kurtis, Kealan, Carter, Grayson, Sorin, and Sena. She was great-grandmother to Braylon and Bronx. She is also survived by her loving brother Marshall D’Arcy (Ogden Dunes, IN) and brother-in-law, Bernard Bronczyk (Upper Arlington, OH). She was a beloved aunt to her nieces and nephew: Tina Lopez, Kim Laurin, Brian Lorenc, and Gabrielle Sonsonetti. Jeanette will also be missed by cousins near and abroad as a linchpin of family connections.
Her long and distinguished career was always focused on helping others. Jeanette worked as Director for the Southeast Side Council for Integrated Communities for the Jewish Community Centers and Jewish Council on Urban Affairs as a community organizer (1968-72), helping to address community tensions in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood. She also worked as a social worker for Garfield Park Mental Health Center (1972-73); Chicago-Read Mental Health Center (1973-75); as Planning Area Coordinator for the Illinois Department of Mental Health (1975-79). Relocating to Michigan City in 1979, she continued her clinical work at Swanson Center as Coordinator of Outpatient Services and Senior Therapist (1979-86). She then worked for Memorial Hospital as a Family Therapist in their Pathways Drug Treatment Program, and at St. Anthony’s Hospital as a Rehabilitation Unit Clinical Social Worker (1986-87, 1987-88). She then began a private practice as a clinical social worker in Michigan City until her retirement. As a social worker, Jeanette also volunteered for the Stepping Stone Domestic Violence Shelter for Women in Michigan City, IN, helping families find peace and safety during difficult periods in their lives.
A dedicated servant to others, she fought for causes great and small. At 20 years old, she volunteered on John F. Kennedy’s first presidential campaign. In her teens she testified in front of congress to fight for the establishment of the Indiana Dunes National Park, a dream she was thrilled to see realized. Jeanette was active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s including marching in Selma, Alabama, with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She continued that involvement through the local NAACP and the Black Lives Matter movement, also helping to raise money for Syrian refugees and children. Throughout her life she was involved in the Save the Dunes Council, serving as its Board President and board member at various times. Jeanette held many roles with the League of Women Voters at the county, state and regional levels. She also was an active member of the Progressive Democrats of Michigan City.
The environment was the cause that drove her more than any other. She was the recipient of several awards including: The Paul H. Douglas Memorial Award, Save the Dunes Council; Environmental Achievement Award, 2006, Indiana Division of the Isaac Walton League of America; the Paul Bunner Conservationist of the Year, 2011, Indiana Wildlife Federation; Art Palleon Advocacy Award, 2015 Champion for Lake Michigan, League of Women Voters Lake Michigan Region; and the Lifetime Achievement Award, 2017, Hoosier Environmental Council. The Indiana House of Representatives honored Jeanette in 2007 with House Resolution 81 in "appreciation for her years of service to the citizens of the Great Lakes region and the state of Indiana." She also co-hosted “This Land is Your Land” on local television for several years, focusing on regional environmental issues.
A great lover of animals, in her life she bred great pyrenees mountain dogs, champion bichon frises, and English cream retrievers. Along with her son, Nevin, she co-founded Takoda Dogs, a kennel for bichon frises and English cream retrievers. She equally loved cats, birds, rabbits, and fish…having 6 pets at the time of her death (Her children wish to thank her for such an immediate and overwhelming task!)
Jeanette donated her body to the University of Chicago Medical School. A memorial service will be held later at the Friendship Botanic Gardens-Romanian Garden. Condolences may be sent via the Ott-Haverstock Funeral Home online obituary services or mailed to Erin O’Donnell at 15 Hazelhurst Ave, Newton, MA, 02465. Donations for a to be determined dedicated duneland nature preserve in her name are welcome.
Jeanette was a curious and eager explorer. She enjoyed opera, cooking, camping, and travel, particularly to ancestral homes. She spoke with her each of her children daily and was of enormous support to them, as well as anybody who came into her world. Her family will remember her as a livewire, the family genealogist, an animal lover, and a loving and unfailing generous spirit…someone who never put herself before others.
Her favorite saying was “It will never make the news: Grandmother Loves Grandchildren.” Her family wishes to say, “It will never make the news, family loves mother, aunt, grandmother, and friend.”
With love and luck in the next life…those who knew you and hope to see you again.
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