Our sweet mother, Jeanne Marie Nassa, 82, of Middletown, Rhode Island, passed away on April 4, 2022. She was the wife of the late Ralph Nassa and formerly to the late John T. Hennessey.
Jeanne was born September 29, 1939, in Boston, MA, to John W. and Marie M. (Connell) Leonard. Jeanne is survived by her children: Karen Hennessey of West Roxbury, MA, Kathleen Hennessey and her husband, Daryl Van Nuland, of Mansfield, MA, and Susan Frost and her husband, Richard “Buck” Frost of Middletown, RI. She is also survived by her grandchildren: Alex Bouthillier and his wife, Meg of Providence, RI, Sam Van Nuland and his fiancee, Olivia Sokol of Menlo Park, CA, James Van Nuland of Boston, MA, Tatyana Frost of Manchester, NH, and Aidan “Pashka” Frost of the US Navy; her brother, James Leonard and his wife Kathleen and their children and grandchildren, and many cousins and friends.
Jeanne grew up in Roslindale, MA, graduated from St. Mary’s H.S. in Brookline, MA and received her Bachelor’s of Science in Education from Boston State Teachers College in Boston, MA in 1961, and her Master’s of Arts Degree in Human Development from Salve Regina University in 1976.
She taught kindergarten for a year in Norwood, MA before marrying in 1962 and relocating to Middletown, where she was a substitute teacher. She was also the program director of the Martin Luther King Program for 5 years as she grew her family.
After earning her master’s degree, she worked as a meal-site director for the Portsmouth Senior Center. From there she became the Project Director for the East Bay Area at Self Help, Inc. where she planned, organized, and directed services for over 10,000 elderly clients per year, supervised a staff of 250 employees, and prepared and monitored over $500,000 in grants annually. And as such, she was on a national board which she attended many conferences over the years which took her to many major cities across the US.
She moved on to become the Project Director for RI Meals on Wheels and received a state grant for the prevention of elderly abuse in R.I.
She sold real estate for a couple of years before returning to the human services field as a social case worker at the RI Dept. of Children, Youth, and Families for 6 years, where she provided direct services to children, youth, and their families throughout the state.
Her final occupation was as a Rehabilitation Counselor at the RI Dept. of Human Services, Office of Rehabilitation Services. In this role, she helped individuals with disabilities access appropriate services to be able to live independently, pursue further education, and/or find employment.
By Jeanne’s teaching and advocating, through all of her occupational, social, and familial roles, she made a genuine impact on numerous lives from children to the elderly as well as people with disabilities.
In 1999 she remarried. She and her late husband, Ralph Nassa, ran Seaside Cottage, a B&B in downtown Newport for many years, entertaining guests from all over the world.
Jeanne loved to travel and visited places such as California, Florida, Maine, Virginia, Ireland, and Italy. She was also a voracious reader, her love of reading began as a young girl and continued throughout her life. She participated in several different social groups throughout the years such as the American Association of University Women, Newport Garden Club, Newport County Bed & Breakfast Association, just to name a few. Jeanne was also an active parishioner at Trinity Church in Newport.
Jeanne will be dearly missed by her family, friends and all of the numerous lives she touched throughout her life. She told us that when we see a butterfly, it will be her sending her love and support to all.
Visiting hours will be held on Thursday, April 21 from 4-7pm at Connors Funeral Home, 55 West Main Rd Portsmouth, RI. Her funeral service will be held on Friday, April 22 at 11:00 am at Trinity Church in Newport.
Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, www.stjude.org or to the Caine Family Scholarship Fund for Salve Regina University students https://www.givecampus.com/campaigns/16775/donations/new