Gloria Jameson was many things: a devoted wife, mother and grandmother; a beloved fixture of the St. Pius X Catholic High School community; and a champion of the underdog.
Even in the final days of her life, Jameson was thinking of others. After testing positive for COVID-19, she was admitted to Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital in April, and agreed to be a part of a research study related to the novel coronavirus.
One of Jameson’s daughters, Elaine Bishoff, said it was her mother’s “final offering” to the world.
“I think from the beginning that she knew that there was a very good chance that it would not help her,” Bishoff said. “But she was very, very specific that it would be helpful for humanity going forward.”
Jameson was born on June 28, 1929, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, to Stephen and Elsie Fudge. After graduating high school in the late 1940s, she traveled to Atlanta to visit her sister. That’s when she met Jack Jameson.
The couple was married for 60 years until his death in 2008. They made their life in Atlanta, raising their five children here.
And while Jameson spent the rest of her life in the South until her death at age 90 last month on April 16, Bishoff said her mother never forgot her New England roots.
“Her heart never really left the small town by the seaside, that’s who she was,” Bishoff said. “But she adapted and made this her home.”
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Both of Jameson’s parents died when she was a young girl — her mother in childbirth when Jameson was about 2 years old and later her father in an accident while working as a sea captain. She and her siblings were split among different families who raised them. Having been an orphan at a young age, Jameson made it a point to look out for the underdogs in life.
That was never more evident than in the three decades she spent working in various roles, including administrative jobs in the discipline office and athletic department, at Atlanta’s St. Pius X Catholic High School.
Mark Kelly, who worked with Jameson in the school’s athletic department, said she was always looking out for the kids who needed some extra support.
“What I loved most is she would celebrate those who were deserving of celebration, but she would take care of and look out for the kids who had needs and who maybe were not as successful and that kind of made her special,” Kelly said.
Kelly said Jameson was a beloved figure at St. Pius — filling the school with her laughter and care.
“That hearty laugh and that heart are the two things that were her legacies at the school,” Kelly said.
While she touched the lives of countless students throughout the years, taking a job at the school was really an act of love for her own five children — Cathy, Jack, Cynthia, Stephen and Elaine — for whom she wanted to provide a quality education.
“Putting five kids through private school is not easy, so working there allowed that to happen. At the time, I don’t think we had a total appreciation for the sacrifice, but now we do,” Bishoff said “It was real important to her that her girls were as educated as her sons. There was never a question in her mind that women could do everything that men could do.”
In her later years, Jameson moved from the home in Chamblee where she and Jack had raised their kids to Mount Vernon Towers retirement community in Sandy Springs. There, she once again created a community for herself.
“It was a new lease on life for her,” Jameson’s eldest daughter, Cathy Caldwell, said. “She had lots of friends there and just really, really enjoyed living there.”
Jameson loved to laugh. She was open-minded and liked music ranging from classical to classic rock. She would talk to everyone and often spoke her mind. She was a loyal friend and the “biggest cheerleader” for her children and grandchildren, to whom she was known to give advice.
In early April, Jameson began feeling ill. At first, she thought it could be a cold or a sinus infection, Caldwell said. When it persisted, she was admitted to the hospital where she was tested for COVID.
Although her family wasn’t able to be by her side in the hospital, they communicated by phone and arranged for a priest in protective gear to administer last rites.
And from across the country, Caldwell was able to let her mother know that her beloved family had grown: Caldwell’s daughter gave birth to a baby boy.
Her new great-grandson was born just days before Gloria Jameson — the young orphan from Massachusetts who had gone on to be the matriarch of a large, loving family — died due to the coronavirus. The baby’s name? Jameson.
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