Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Jeanette Crounse – talented and inspirational

Wisdom Keepers

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

While attending a gathering of the American Association of University Women, I noticed a striking woman across the room with purple streaks in her hair. I knew immediately she was someone I wanted to meet. Jeanette Crounse is a person you will never forget. Remember the 1959 R&B song "Personality" by Lloyd Price? "You've got personality (walk), personality (talk), personality (smile), personality (charm), personality – cause you got a great big heart." That's Jeanette. Not only does she have a great big heart, she oozes charm, dignity and beauty, inside and out. Talk about living life to the fullest. This gal has it covered. Her ability to fully enjoy life inspires those around her.

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.

"Each of the men and women that we honor today has a song – literally, in some cases. For others, it's a talent, or a drive, or a passion that they just had to share with the world." – Maya Angelou

Jeanette Crounse – talented and inspirational

Jeanette Sydney Crounse was born in Los Angeles, California. Jeanette describes herself as "an army brat." She relates that when she was just six weeks old her family moved to Minnesota. When she was 3, her father reenlisted in the service. By the time Jeanette was 18, she had lived in five different states and Okinawa. To this day Jeanette loves to travel.

Growing up, Jeanette loved music. She played the clarinet in the third grade and self taught herself the piano. She always had a song in her heart, and after her children were grown she followed her path and became a music teacher. But first, she chose marriage and family. Jeanette was married at 18. She has two children, two grandchildren, and as we talked, she proudly shared photos of her fourth great-grandchild who was recently born. Jeanette said her children were always a priority. When the children were in elementary school, Jeanette went to school part time. It took her five years to get an associate degree. Persistence and the joy of the pursuit continued to drive her onward. Once the children started high school, Jeanette enrolled in Cal State Bakersfield. She said it took another five years to get her teaching credentials. Jeanette went on to teach for many years at Tehachapi High School.

Her family moved to Tehachapi in 1971 from Lancaster. Jeanette said she remembers Tehachapi the way it used to be 30 years ago. She loves the people but not so much some of the changes. She has lived here almost 50 years and has seen many things change, but nevertheless, she says she is here to stay. Now retired, Jeanette continues to follow her dreams. She loves to read, paint in watercolor and travel. She has visited the British Isles, India, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, South America, Spain, Germany and Morocco. Her favorite travel memory was in Austria where she had the privilege to sing in the Salzburg Cathedral with the Children's Choir of Chico and the Chico Community Choir.

"It was absolutely incredible," she said.

This year Jeanette and her daughter are off to Europe. They booked the trip in 2019 but kept getting bumped because of COVID. Finally, this year the trip will be a reality.

Travel isn't the only way Jeanette makes memories. When her granddaughter planned to marry, she asked Jeanette to do the honor. Never one to shy away from a new adventure, Jeanette researched online and became an ordained minister. She then performed the marriage ceremony for her granddaughter, and more recently, for her grandson. Another special memory.

Music is still a big part of Jeanette's life and she now gives private piano lessons. She says her piano students keep her grounded in the music. Jeanette is also a past president of the AAUW and stays active in the group. She has volunteered at the historical society here in town and at the Errea House. She also loves directing and working backstage at the local BeeKay Community Theatre.

When asked what advice she would give to others Jeanette said, "Don't hold on to the past; move on. If you make mistakes, don't dwell on them. Just do better and follow your dreams. If it's something you want to do, do it."

Hats off to you, Jeanette. You found your song at an early age and followed your path with heart. This is what dreams are made of. You are truly an inspiration to all of us.

Here is a fun activity to "just do art"

Let's make a simple bookmark.

You'll need: A strip of paper like card stock or watercolor paper about 2" by 5", markers, paints, or glue and magazine pictures (whatever makes you smile), hole punch and ribbon or string.

1. Think of a memory:

What is your first memory? What is your favorite memory? Your favorite place from childhood? What brought you joy when you were a child?

2. Using your chosen art medium, decorate your strip of paper in a way that represents your memory.

3. Punch a hole in the top and thread with your ribbon or string.

Every time you use your bookmark it will bring a smile to your face.

"The Wisdom Keepers, Tehachapi Women of Substance and a Few Good Men" is a book in progress by Judith Campanaro, Tehachapi artist and resident. Judith's love of sharing inspirational stories of others prompted her to highlight amazing locals that make Tehachapi special. The Loop newspaper will feature excerpts from the book to give you a taste of our fabulous residents. If you would like a copy, please contact Judith at [email protected]. In the meantime if you'd like to recommend a local person for an interview send their name and number to Judith at [email protected] or (646) 896-4434. She will contact them.