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On Sunday, November 5th, 2023, Jeanie Peyton, loving wife of Reverend Wesley Peyton, devoted mother of Wesley Jr. & Christopher Peyton, and adoring grandmother of Eddie, Eric & Alec Peyton, died peacefully at home surrounded by her family in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. She was 81 years old.
Jeanie was born and raised in Martinsville, Virginia, the only daughter of Hucy and Gertrude Trail. Her mother was an exceptionally resourceful and deeply spiritual woman, who managed to overcome enormous obstacles to break the generational cycle of poverty and ensure that her daughter have the opportunity to pursue higher education and a better life than the one she’d had. With no more than a sixth-grade education and a job working as a seamstress for a local knitting mill, Gertrude sold her own homemade apple pies to coworkers during lunch breaks to save up enough money to pay for her daughter to go to college. When the time came, Gertrude sent her only daughter off to Emanuel College in Franklin Springs, Georgia, with suitcases full of clothes, all of which she herself had made. Jeanie graduated from Emanuel’s two-year program in 1962 and went on to finish her BA in Business Education at East Carolina University where she graduated in 1964. Some years later Jeanie pursued and completed her Masters in Business Education while working as a full-time high school teacher of business education. Jeanie would eventually go on to have a 32-year career teaching high school in the greater Washington DC area and was the head of the business education department at Churchill High School in Montgomery County, MD for 18 years.
Alongside the entire length of her successful career as a much-loved high school teacher Jeanie was working another job which demanded just as much time and energy as her teaching career, along with some very unique skills that cannot be taught, all of which she naturally possessed in abundance. In 1962 she married her college sweetheart, Wesley Peyton, who from 19 years of age was working in ministry, first as a travelling evangelist and later as a full-time pastor until he retired in 2011. Jeanie was the quintessential preacher’s wife – a role that she humbly accepted without question, and carried out with grace, compassion and unfaltering dignity for the entire length of her husband`s ministry. The role of a preacher’s wife is considerably more demanding than most people can imagine, but Jeanie played her role with seeming effortlessness, generously giving her love and spiritual guidance to everyone who needed it, while privately providing her husband the support he needed at home to be able to carry out God’s work in public. She was a bright light that never ceased to shine, even in the darkest of times. Her commitment and strength of character was a steadying force not only for her family and friends, but for the parishioners of every church her husband pastored over the course of many years. Her warmth and her smile were infectious. Even after she and Wesley had both retired and moved from Virginia to Murrels Inlet, SC, Jeanie continued to play out her own unique role of ministry in a myriad of ways, sharing her wisdom and spiritual guidance with anyone who needed it, right up until the end of her life.
Of all the roles Jeanie played so well, it’s perhaps the role of a mother that she deserved to win an academy award for. She was the kind of mother that everyone wishes they had or hopes one day to be themselves. Her first son, Wesley Edward Jr., was born in 1963, while Jeanie was still in college. She somehow managed to juggle being a mother and a full-time student while her husband Wesley was often out of town, working as a travelling evangelist and holding revivals in churches across the country. When asked if she found this challenging or stressful, she replied that at the time she was just so in love with being a mom that she didn’t even really notice how much work it was. In 1970 she gave birth to her second son, Christopher, who eventually moved to Europe upon finishing his college studies. Over the years Jeanie and Wesley travelled to many countries around the world to spend time with their son, including Colombia, England, Australia, and Spain, to name a few. She loved both of her boys unconditionally, immensely, and selflessly. They were always a priority for her, no matter how many other roles demanded her time and attention. She gave all of herself, always, to both of her kids - never complaining, or showing signs of her own fatigue or troubles in order that they wouldn’t have to worry. Even throughout the final year of her life while she was battling cancer and suffering from immeasurable pain, her sons would have to plead with her to be honest with them about her condition and how she was really feeling. She was the kind of mother that always put her kids first and never wanted to be a burden. Full of joy and laughter right up through her final days, Jeanie remained positive and was always intent on making the most of her days and the precious time she could spend with her family. As a grandmother, she was every bit as loving and caring as she’d been as a mother, and she adored her three grandsons with all the tenderness and passion that each of them adored her with in return.
Jeanie Peyton was truly one of a kind in so many ways. As a daughter, mother, wife, preacher’s wife, grandmother and teacher, she rose to every challenge and carried out each role with the kind of grace that sets the bar higher than most ever manage to reach. Her infectious laughter, and her effervescent persistent positivity was a source of joy and inspiration for so many people who had the privilege of getting to know her. Her faith sustained her throughout her entire life, and it was this exceedingly intimate and personal connection with God that seemed to give her the quiet confidence to trust her own soul to be her pilot, rather than always looking to others for approval. She never needed to shout or make a fuss about the things that mattered to her. In times of judgement, she forgave even before being asked for forgiveness. She just lived what she believed, and by doing so she set an example along the way of how to be the change, rather than just demanding it from others. Her light never diminished, even as her body began to. That light continues to shine in the hearts of all those who knew and loved her so very much. She was, quite simply, luminous in every conceivable way, and impossible not to fall in love with.
Her family and church are hosting a memorial service in celebration of her life on Saturday, November 11th, 2023, at Pawleys Island Community Church in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. The celebration service will begin at 11am. Afterwards everyone is invited to join the family in the recreation hall next door for light finger food and fellowship.
Pawleys Island Community Church
10304 Ocean Highway
Pawleys Island, SC 29585
Link to Facebook Event with more info here: https://fb.me/e/WsNdRVLx