Jody Celestine Croce

December 7, 1953–September 26, 2022

Jody’s Memorial Service, January 21, 2023

I had planned to do a Facebook LiveStream of the entire memorial service, which would then be a video I could download, upload to YouTube and embed here, as I did the slideshow (below); but I couldn’t get it to work, and the service was commencing as I struggled with my phone, so I gave up on the plan and sat to be present for the service. The service was wonderful; the Rev. Ben Meyers did an outstanding job, and the various speakers and music were great. Later that evening my nephew David Langton shareds with me several videos he shot, so we have the following clips from the service, and I’ve included below as well the text of Rev. Ben’s portions.

Parts of the Service

Rev. Ben Meyer’s Invocation and Welcome:
A Common Destiny, by David Easton:
     We know that all living substances, all substances of energy, being, and purpose, are united and share the same destiny.
     We know that all people, Those we love and those we know not of, are united and share the same destiny.
     Birth-to-Death, we share this unity with the sun, with the earth,
     With our brothers and sisters, With strangers.
     We share this destiny with flowers of the field, and snowflakes and bugs of the earth,
     With volcanoes and moonbeams and fish of the sea…With all of life.
     Our destiny: from unknown to unknown.
     O Great Spirit of Life and Love and Longing and Loss, of great mystery, enlightening discovery, and awesome wonder, May we have the faith to accept this mystery, embrace its brevity with delight, and build upon its truth with joy and wonder. So be it…
     May this be so for us this day…

We all then sang together “Morning Has Broken,” with Barb Jirsa accompanying us on the piano:

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world

Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from Heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world

My oldest sister Beth Volpe read the poem The Summer’s Day, by Mary Oliver:
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

This song, “I Know Moonlight, I Know Starlight,” was apparently the first song written here in North America (in the future USA) not of Native American origin and not brought here from Europe by settlers. (Sadly, due to technical difficulties, we couldn’t see the video during the service, but thee audio came through fine.)

Below is Lori Lindburg’s tribute to Jody.

Below is our daughter Nik reading the tribute written by Jody’s dear longtime friend Becky Green.

Below is David Foran’s tribute to Jody.

After David read his tribute to Jody, he then read the “one word tributes” that many people wrote down on little slips of paper; here they are:

Our friend Chris Haltom explains the back story and then performs his tribute song to Jody, “Beautiful Life.” (View at YouTube to see the lyrics, in the video description.)

Below is our son Kevin’s tribute to Jody — “Mom.” He started by saying, “I can’t talk, but I can sing,” then sang the spiritual “Deep River.”

And here are my comments about Jody and today’s service and reception.

Rev. Ben Meyer’s Eulogy:
eulogy here…

It is Enough, by Anne Alexander Bingham, the poem read by Rev. Ben:
To know that the atoms of my body will remain
to think of them rising through the roots of a great oak to live in leaves, branches, twigs
perhaps to feed the crimson peony
the blue iris
or broccoli
Or rest on water, to freeze and thaw with the seasons…
Some atoms might become a bit of fluff on the wing of a bird to feel the breeze, to know the support of air
and some might drift up, and up, into space, star dust returning from whence it came
it is enough to know that as long as there is a universe I am a part of it. 

Rev. Ben’s Closing Words and Benediction:

Below is the slideshow that played before and after Jody’s memorial service, on January 21, 2023. Rather than embed the soundtrack into the video itself, here’s the playlist our friend Lynn Guenther made for the slideshow as well as the reception, following Jody’s memorial service:

Jody’s Childhood

Jody was born in Van Nuys, CA, as were her older sister and brother. Her parents moved to San Jose, CA a few years later, and then bought a small house in Ben Lomond, CA and moved in there in 1959, when Jody was 5 years old. She attended public schools throughout her education, graduating from SLV HS in 1971 and started college at UC Santa Cruz that fall.

She majored in psychology at UCSC and graduated in 1975. She held a few different jobs during and after college, and then in 1979 began serving as the manager of the College Eight Inn, the college-run coffee shop. She proceeded to manage the “Crazy Eight Inn” for 36 years, retiring on July 1, 2015.

Jody and Ted Meet and Fall In Love

The same year Jody started as manager of the College Eight Inn, I began as a freshman at UCSC, having followed my older sister Lucy out to UCSC and Santa Cruz. By the 1982–83 school year I was actively involved in a number of projects and committees associated with the Environmental Studies program, which was housed at College Eight. Thus, I was spending a lot of time at the Eight Inn (also called the College Eight Café), for meetings as well as just hanging out, since they served coffee as well as awesome sweet treats, bagels, sandwiches, soups, salads and entrees. I got to be friends with a number of the undergrad students that worked at the café. In the fall of 1983 I asked Jody for a job at the café, and she hired me. That fall Jody and I got to be friends, and learned that we work well together and really liked each other. As happens sometimes, things progressed and we became more than just friends…

I graduated UCSC in June 1984, and moved back to New England that fall, but Jody and I promised to stay in touch, as it was clear to each of us that we really liked each other and wanted to stay connected. I lived with my dad in Kittery, Maine (to where he’d moved in 1983) for a year and worked as a waiter in the dining room of a fancy coastal hotel near Kittery.

In the summer of 1985, Jody and Toni Sevilla (her assistant manager at the Café) came out to New England to visit me for a few weeks, and the three of us went on a road trip to New York City, then down to Washington, DC, visiting UCSC friends along the way.

Western Mass, summer of 1986

The next fall, having not succeeded in securing a “real” job that utilised by BA in Biology & Environmental Studies, I started grad school at U Mass Amherst, to earn an M. Ed. in science education and a teaching credential to be a HS biology teacher.

Jody again visited me in the summer of 1986, and a few days before she flew back to California for her next year of managing the Café, we discussed the future: Since I was in transition and she was settled with a good job (and her parents were both in Santa Cruz area and getting older), I agreed that I would complete my M. Ed. and credential program then move back to Santa Cruz. (She agreed that, once both her parents were gone, she’d be willing to have us move back to New England… a deal she later revoked, but that’s a story for another time…

Jody came and spent most of the summer of 1987 with me in Leverett, MA, sharing the room I’d been renting for a couple years, with around a half dozen housemates, including the builder-owner. We then packed up a U-Haul trailer with my stuff and we drove across the country in my Honda Accord, stopping in Chicago to visit her cousins on her dad’s side; we also tent camped at the base of a pyramid-shaped monument in Wyoming — on the night of the supposed “Harmonic Convergence” — and we arrived in Santa Cruz early August, less than a month before the 87–88 school year was to commence. But I lucked out and found a job teaching 7th grade science at SLV Junior HS — the same JHS Jody had attended 20 years ago!

A couple years later, we got married, on July 1, 1989; it was a beautiful outdoor wedding and folks had a blast — as did we!

Life on Clay Street

The next year, 1990, we bought a home in Santa Cruz, with a funky duplex in the backyard, so for all these decades we’ve had tenants helping to pay the mortgage. It’s a small Victorian, built in 1888 in “Eastlake Stick” style, and was originally a 1 bedroom home with a living room and a parlor; there was probably had a big ole wood burning stove in the LR — there was in fact a circular hole in the corner of the LR ceiling for the old flue… The “parlor” was now a second bedroom, and a third bedroom was in the gables in the converted attic.

A couple years after that, son Kevin was born.

And in 1995 Zoe was born.

Jody Retires in 2015

Last Updated on January 23, 2023