Queen Jean

Jean Thorpe

“The Matriarch of

USA/UNC Walk for Health”

1940 – 2019


Photo by Clifton Barnes taken at the inaugural UNC Walk for Health event on April 11, 2015 at UNC’s Jackson Hall tennis courts – Jean Thorpe in the background.

Watch Jean Thorpe lead the first annual UNC Walk for Health in a line dance at UNC’s Anderson Softball Field – April 11, 2015. (Begin at the 1:22 mark)

Jean Swinson Thorpe, retired educator and longtime resident of Chapel Hill, NC passed away peacefully at her home on September 12, 2019. She was 79 years old. Jean was a native of Goldsboro, NC. She was the daughter of the late Clarence Swinson, Sr. and Daisy Mae McIntyre Swinson of Goldsboro. Jean was the oldest of eleven children. Her husband, Bill Thorpe, preceded her in death as well as two siblings, Cynthia Swinson and Ronald Swinson, and her precious Yorkie grand-poo, Koko.

Jean graduated from Dillard High School in Goldsboro, NC in 1958 and received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education from Fayetteville State University in 1962. She retired in 1999 after serving a total of 36 years as an elementary school teacher in Washington NC, Duplin County NC, and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Upon her retirement, Carrboro Elementary School named their professional library in her honor for her 28 years of dedicated service to the school. Throughout her teaching career, Jean was a member of many professional associations, organizations, and school committees and was recognized often throughout her life’s journey including a resolution from the Town of Carrboro expressing their sincere thanks and gratitude for her exceptional service to the children of Carrboro citizens for serving over 28 years as a kindergarten teacher at Carrboro Elementary School. Jean was not only a devoted mother and wife, but she was also a mentor, counselor, and surrogate mother to many. She also loved her Chapel Hill community and would often be found extending a warm hug to her former students, former colleagues, church members, community members, and neighbors.

Jean is survived by her adoring and beloved children; daughter, Beverly, Durham, NC and son, William Jr., Chapel Hill, NC and other beloved family members, Sisters: Gloria S. Spears, Goldsboro, NC; Brenda S. (Hubert) Wooten, Goldsboro, NC; and Diane S. (Stephen) Turner, Warner Robins, GA. Brothers: Clarence (Rose) Swinson, Sacramento, CA; Charles (Wanda) Swinson, Greensboro, NC; Thaddeus (Karin) Swinson, Sioux Falls, SD; Richard (Rena) Swinson, Pikeville, NC; and Darryl (Sheilah) Swinson, Goldsboro, NC. Aunt: Sadie Bell Jennings, Bronx, NY; Uncle: Walter Shirley, Goldsboro, NC. Brother-in-law, Reverend Ned Thorpe, Chapel Hill, NC; and Sister-in-law: Virginia (William) Thorpe, Oxford, NC. Jean has a host of other loving relatives and friends who will surely miss her presence.