90th birthday party sparks an introduction

by DARIA PERSE
Lodge 778

Daria and Jean

Daria and Jean

SPRING HILL, Fla. — Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010, was a special day for me. I had never in my life been invited to a 90th birthday party, so I felt curious and excited. For a travel companion I talked my son into coming with me so I didn’t have to drive by myself down south to Palmetto, Fla.

Jean Narquini (292), an amazing lady of Slovenian heritage, invited me to her 90th birthday party. She contacted me after reading one of my articles in Prosveta. We talked on the phone and stayed in touch through e-mails ever since. Several times she invited me to visit her, but my summer was busy and I just couldn’t make it. So it was her birthday party when we met in person for the first time.

The ride to Palmetto was incredibly enjoyable. I loved the bridges, and while my son admired their architectural side and clever construction, I admired the view. I’d been down this way many times before, but that day, driving across Tampa Bay and then over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, was even more enchanting than ever before. The skies were blue and the seas were calm; it was a pictureperfect day.

 JEAN and CHUCK NARQUINI (292) at Jean’s 90th  birthday celebration in October

JEAN and CHUCK NARQUINI (292) at Jean’s 90th birthday celebration in October

The clubhouse at Piney Points was easy to find, and so were Jean and her husband, Chuck. Our eyes met when I entered the hall, and Jean and I recognized each other right away. She introduced me to everyone as “my new friend from SNPJ.” I was seated with her family and had a chance to find out more about her life and the lives of her daughters, Juanell and Jackie.

On the side of the hall there was a table set up with memorabilia, marking important moments in Jean Narquini’s life. All those photos and other objects on display told her life story and pointed out the most important events in her life. However, the little report card from 1930 caught my attention more than anything else.

Even though I looked through it, I don’t remember what grades Jean received in school that year. And if I did, I probably wouldn’t tell you. What made me smile was the signature of her father, Mike Kotnik, on the back. Neat, easy-to-read handwriting in cursive transferred me into a pleasantly nostalgic mood. His writing was learned back in the times when students still had to pay attention to that part of their school work.

 Jean’s third grade report card was  among the memorabilia on display at  her 90th birthday party

Jean’s third grade report card was among the memorabilia on display at her 90th birthday party

From the speech of Jean’s older daughter, Juanell, I learned a lot more about their interesting family history and how Jean’s mother came to this country when she was only 18 years old to work as a nanny. She never went back, but Jean visited Slovenia and is still in touch with some relatives from back “home.”

After the party, with Slovenian music, cake and ice cream and many guests, my son and I were invited to Jean’s home. We didn’t stay long, but that short visit gave us a chance to talk some more and get to know each other better.

It was a very nice overall, yet Jean and her cheerfulness and positive attitude made the day special. She has been an SNPJ member her entire life, and I sure don’t have a chance to meet people like Jean Narquini very often.

 JEAN NARQUINI relaxing at home

JEAN NARQUINI relaxing at home

Original article: Prosveta, November 17, 2010

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About the author

Daria

Most of all Daria enjoys creating, designing, taking photos of, writing about and sharing all the beautiful, cheerful things and moments. She finds them everywhere she goes. And tons of fun people, too!

12comments
Mary Narquini Blair - January 12, 2011

Thank you for doing this beautiful article on my mom. What a special time for you to get to meet in person. Thank you for being there for her party.

Her Youngest Daughter
Mary

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    Daria - January 12, 2011

    You’re more than welcome Mary, it was just as special for me. Your mom is a very impressive lady. I hope we’ll get a chance to meet some time!

    Reply
Alda Crawford Lashley - January 13, 2011

What a lovely article about a dear lady whose PA home I frequented during summer vacations with my aunt and uncle many years ago. Jean’s three daughters were wonderful friends, and Jean and Chuck readily included me in their family activities. What wonderful memories from my youth. “Happy Birthday Jean.”

Aunt Louise and Uncle Wally’s niece
Alda

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Diana Kotnik - January 13, 2011

I can’t say enough about how wonderful Aunt Jean is!! This is my husband’s aunt & uncle – John Kotnik. I “inherited” them through marriage & I love them both dearly!! This was a wonderfully written & very fitting article about a truly great woman. I think the world of Aunt Jean!! Thank you for sharing the experience of your visit with her!

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Jack and Nancy Davis - January 13, 2011

Jean & Chuck are very special people and I’m sure glad she stayed in American when she came over. She’s awesome!

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    Jack and Nancy Davis - January 13, 2011

    Jean and Chuck Narquini are wonderful people and we are glad that they live in our Park. I find Jean an awesome, giving person and can’t believe she is 90 years old.

    Reply
Barb & Chad Hook - January 13, 2011

What a beautiful article about a Beautiful lady, my Aunt Jean! I am the daughter of her “baby” brother, Mike. He is only 87 and also enjoying life. I also have many fond memories of Aunt Jean and Uncle Chuck and their daughters when we visited them in PA or they traveled to Elyria, OH to visit our family and Aunt Jean’s sister Clara & family and her brother Jack & family. Thank you for sharing your pictures and story about her 90th Birthday.

One of her many nieces,
Barb Hook

P.S. Uncle Chuck is looking Great too!

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Louise Diesing - January 13, 2011

I Met Jean back in the 1950’s when she lived on my street, that was before my husband, Wally, & I had children—- so I adopted her girls & sorta counted them as my own. We all became such good friends that even after we got two daughters, we still considered the Narquini girls as ours. We all attended the same church, North Branch Presbyterian, and Jean & Chuck were both wonderful church workers. Some of our activities together were boiling applebutter in big copper kettles outside, then selling the delicious product to help the church —other projects were candy making at Easter , church basement sales, dinners for a local industrial plant etc.
We continued the applebutter boiling in our own back yards even after the church stopped doing it & every summer there were back yard picnics at both our homes. We missed them when they moved from our neighborhood, but continued to be friends & when they moved to Florida, we visited them pretty often until Wally’s health started to fail & he no longer enjoyed long disotance travel. They ,in turn, also visited us each time they came to Penna. to visit their daughter, Jackie. I have many great memories of both Jean & Chuck (truly great friends & good people) & nobody makes better apple streudel than Jean. So glad you were honored on your 90th milestone—-only wish I could have shared it with youl Long time friend, Louise

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Barb & Chad Hook - January 14, 2011

Beautiful article about a Beautiful lady! I am the daughter of her “baby” brother, Mike. He is only 87 years young and still very active. I have many fond memories of visiting Aunt Jean and Uncle Chuck and their daughters in PA and when they visited us in Elyria, OH. Thank you for sharing her 90th Birthday with all of us.
Barb & Chad Hook
P.S. Uncle Chuck is looking great too!

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Marquitta Baise - February 22, 2011

Very interesting entry, I look forward to the next! Thx for share

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Cindee - March 17, 2011

This was so nice of you to do. You made Jean’s day and she will remember you forever. I am so happy to see and hear when people go out of their way to make someone happy. God gave you a gift, continue to utilize it as much as possible. I am blessed that I have you as a friend. 🙂
Lots of love,
Cindee

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