On August 21st, 2021, the world got a little less funny. Jeanne Swanner Robertson passed away peacefully in her home in Burlington, North Carolina after a short illness. Jeanne is preceded in death by her parents Jim and Cora Swanner, sister Andrea, and her beloved Jerry, affectionately known by millions of people around the world as "Left Brain". Jeanne leaves behind her son Beaver Bowline, his fiancé Neisha Kover and her son Tyler. She also leaves behind her grandsons Ryder and Gray Bowline, sister Katherine Swanner, nephew Walt Mussell and nieces Jeanne Mussell Anderson and Elizabeth Mussell Crockett along with her beloved grandniece, Andrea and grandnephews Will, Chase, Bo, Andrew and Christopher.
Jeanne was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1943, but grew up in Graham, North Carolina. She graduated from Graham High School before attending Auburn University where she was a proud member of the Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority. While attending Auburn she entered and won the Miss North Carolina Pageant and gave over 500 speeches that year which led to her career as a professional humorist. Jeanne competed in the Miss America Pageant in 1963, and although she didn't win, was voted Miss Congeniality which to anyone who knew her, was no surprise. Jeanne returned to Auburn University to complete her bachelor's degree in Physical Education and went on to teach at Judson College. After moving back to North Carolina Jeanne taught school in Durham until she decided to go into professional speaking full time. At that time Jeanne, Jerry and Beaver moved to Burlington.
Jeanne was a professional speaker for over fifty years. From the first paid speech she delivered as Miss North Carolina to the last speech she delivered at the National Speakers Association convention this past July, Jeanne's life's work was bringing laughter into the world. Jeanne was past national president and national board member and held every award and honor bestowed by the National Speakers Association including: CSP, CPAE, Master of Influence, and the Cavett award. She received the Toastmasters Golden Gavel and in 2010 was named the Alamance County Boy Scouts MAN of the Year (she loved that).
Jeanne and her husband Jerry were proud supporters of Elon University where she served on the Board of Trustees for 18 years. She and Jerry believed in education and made a profound difference in the lives of Elon students.
A Celebration of Life service was held at Front Street United Methodist Church in Burlington on Sunday, August 29 at 2:00 pm. Memorials may be made to the charity of one's choice, particularly to groups such as Peg's Pjs (pegspjs.com, 2228 Walker Avenue, Burlington, NC 27215) or to any charity that benefits young people. Jeanne Robertson influenced countless people. Whether it was professionally, personally, or through her financial giving, she made a difference in this world.
Although our loss is heaven's gain, Jeanne will live on in our hearts and funny bones.