Ina Jean Merlino passed away on June 10, 2020 and will be missed by all those who knew her.
She was born in Lexington, Kentucky on December 23, 1928 to Floren and Elizabeth (Dickson) Ewen. Jean’s dad worked for the department of agriculture and her mom was an English teacher. After going to college to study business Jean worked in the Veteran Affairs office near Morehead State College in Morehead Kentucky. It was there she met a Navy veteran and college student who came to collect his payment from the G.I. Bill. After their courtship, Ina Jean Ewen and Nicholas Merlino were married and moved to Paterson, N.J. It was there that her two sons were born, Dan and Steve. Nick and Jean moved to the suburb of Pompton Plains, NJ not long after their second son was born.
Jean kept a tidy ranch while the boys were young. When they reached school age Jean went to work in the nursery school of the First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains. Later, when she was able to take on full time work she became an executive assistant, first at Blanchard Lumber and ultimately at Singer Kearfott, both in Wayne, NJ. Jean took great care of her boys making sure that they were safe in the neighborhood and engaged in the youth activities that were available in town. Her sons both fell in love with the amateur wrestling and she grimaced through more than a dozen years of youth, high school and college wrestling.
A memorable photograph of the time shows her with a pensive (maybe a little worried) look next to her husband Nick who is yelling something to one of their sons on the wrestling mat. Her two favorite hobbies were knitting and cooking but the former ultimately gave way to the latter. Jean was surrounded by Italian sisters-in-law, who were all accomplished in the kitchen. Not to be outdone, she became an incredible cook in her own right, traveling twice to Italy to further sharpen her skills. The meals that came out of her kitchen were nothing short of amazing.
After more than 45 years in their cozy ranch Nick and Jean moved to Cedar Crest Village, also in Pompton Plains. There Jean led a quiet life cooking less but enjoying the many dinners with friends in the community. Nick passed on 9 years ago. Since then Jean carried on with her constant companion Jake, a cute little “Morkie” she was given to keep her company.
Jean is survived by her sons Dan and Steve and their wives Linda and Kathy (respectively). Dan and Linda also gave her four loving grandkids, Blair, Mary, Tim and Anna. Jake is safe and sound living with Steve and Kathy. Remembrance of Jean’s life will be held at a later time. Donations in her memory can be made to your local food bank.