Eugenia “Jean” Chandonia passed away peacefully on August 20, 2020 after an extraordinary life. Jean was born on January 11, 1920 in Mishawaka, Indiana, to John and Inez (Roney) Groff. She attended grade school at St. Joseph Catholic School and is a Class of 1938 alumna of Mishawaka High School. In 1940 Jean married Jon “Jack” Chandonia, Jr., of Mishawaka and they had four daughters.
Jean was Secretary to the Treasurer of the Torrington Company in South Bend from 1956 to 1982. During her time at Torrington she became very active in the National Secretaries Association (IAAP). She held the honor of Secretary of the Year 1975. Along with work she bowled, golfed and did a great deal of genealogical research both of her own ancestors and those of her husband and the Chandonia family. She was a recognized expert in local history and the Pottawatomie Nation. She loved to write and was a frequent contributor to local publications.
While at Torrington, Jean began to attend IUSB and graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts. In 2002 she was awarded the IUSB Continuing Alumni Distinguished Alumni Award. She officially represented IUSB at events around the state, encouraging women to pursue higher education. After positions at several local TV stations, Jean settled into a reference librarian position for 15 years in the Local History Department of the South Bend Public Library in downtown South Bend. She held the distinction of substituting at all of the South Bend Library branches.
Jean was a tireless believer in women’s rights long before it was politically correct and led by example. She was stylish and charming, with a sharp intellect and a wit to match.
During her work career and after retirement, Jean was very active in the Condo Homeowners Association in the neighborhood that she lived in. She served as president several times and often as secretary of the association’s board.
Jean leaves behind her daughters Sheila Baroody Smith of Sierra Vista AZ and Claudette Chandonia of Vienna VA. She was predeceased by her daughters, Connie Curtis and Carol Hoyes Strickler. Along with her daughters, Jean had 15 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren and 9 great-great-grandchildren all of whom survive her.
Jean will be entombed at the St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park, 375 W. Cleveland Road, Granger, Indiana. A Mass and celebration of life will be held at a later date as yet to be determined.
Due to Jean’s strong and lifelong faith donations may be made in her name to St. Jude’s Catholic Church, 19704 Johnson Road, South Bend IN 46614.
Zahoran Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements. To leave an online condolence, visit our website www.zahoran.com or our facebook page Zahoran Funeral Home.
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