Jean L. (Willer) Savarese

Born: Wed., Jan. 23, 1924
Died: Mon., Jun. 2, 2014


3:00 PM to 5:00 PM, Sat., Jun. 07, 2014
Location: Zion United Church of Christ

Memorial Service

5:00 PM Sat., Jun. 07, 2014
Location: Zion United Church of Christ

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Music by The Piano Brothers

Jean L. Savarese

Jan. 23, 1924 - June 2, 2014 SOUTH BEND -

Jean L. Savarese, "The Costume Lady," 90, passed away peacefully at home on Monday, June 2, 2014. Until her passing, Jean was employed by the South Bend Community School Corporation as the curator of the James Lewis Casaday Costume Collection. During her 16 years of volunteering with, and later, 35-years of managing the prized collection, Jean helped thousands of adults and students find the perfect costume for their production or event. She knew the styles and details of every era. And, if she didn't have it she'd create it! In 2002, Jean was inducted into the South Bend Hall of Fame for her preservation of and endeavors with the 76,000 costumes in the collection. A gold card member of IATSE Local #187, Jean worked at the Morris Performing Arts Center, St. Mary's College and the University of Notre Dame. She volunteered with the Red Cross, the Auxiliary of Memorial Hospital and South Bend Civic Theater. A lifelong member of Zion United Church of Christ, she was quite famous for her German potato salad. Born in Chicago to Edward and Olga (Zielke) Willer on January 23, 1924, Jean came to South Bend in 1950 and was employed as a desk clerk at the Jefferson Hotel, where she met James J. Savarese Sr. They were married in 1955. Jean is survived by her daughter, Deborah L. Mayers, and stepson, James "Jay" Savarese, Jr., of Florida, and her sister, Inez Young of McHenry, Illinois. Also surviving are grandchildren, Laurie Savarese-Helenburg, Paige Mayers-Wilsey (Michael), Julian Recanzone (Richard) and Sgt. Jonathan Mayers (Erica); nieces, Gail Dornstreich, April Dougherty and Wendy Miller; and great-grandchildren, Lindsey, Riley, Cassidy, Dylan, Kiera, Vada and Gage. Jean was also blessed with many, many dear friends. Preceding her in death were her parents, husband, Jimmy Savarese; stepdaughter, Rita Roach; and grandson, James J. Savarese, III. Visitation will be on Saturday, June 7, from 3 to 5 pm at Zion United Church of Christ, 715 E. Wayne Street, South Bend, with a memorial service to start at 5 pm at the church. A retirement party was being planned for Jean. Instead, the community is invited to a celebration of Jean's life and a display of costumes on Saturday, June 28th, from 5 pm to 7 pm at South Bend Civic Theater. Contributions in memory of Jean may be made to either the James Lewis Casaday Costume Collection, in care of the Business Office, SBCSC, 215 S. St. Joseph St., South Bend, Indiana 46601, to assist with the continued care and housing of the costumes, or to Zion United Church of Christ, 715 East Wayne St., South Bend, Indiana 46617

Charitable donations may be made in Jean's memory to the following organizations:

James Lewis Casaday Costume Collection, in care of the Business Office, SBCSC
215 S. St. Joseph St., South Bend, Indiana 46601

Zion United Church of Christ
715 E. Wayne St. South Bend, 46617

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