A memorial service for Jennifer Sue Cain will be held on Saturday, March 27, at 2:00 p.m. in the gardens of First Presbyterian Church of Lansdowne, PA, located on 140 North Lansdowne Avenue, 19050.
On Saturday, April 10, at 5:00 p.m., a remembrance celebration of Jennifer’s life and legacy with a planting of memorial rose bush will also be held at First Presbyterian Church of Lansdowne.
JENNIFER SUE CAIN, 1956-2021
On March 22, 2021, in the calm of the early morning, Jennifer Sue Cain passed away to soothing words of affection and gratitude whispered by her daughter. In her last weeks at home, surrounded by flowers, cards, and photographs of a well-traveled life she was so saddened to leave, her six adult children—four daughters and two sons—and two granddaughters, provided loving, attentive care. “She looks peaceful,” the hospice nurse said before noting the official time of death. “Like she’s resting.” Heartsore and raw with overwhelming grief, Jennifer’s kin kissed her folded hands, still warm, and stroked her silver hair; soon after the final goodbyes, Jennifer comforted them with the bluest sky and a beaming sun as bright as her smile.
Jennifer Sue Cain born on January 5, 1956, was raised in Williamstown, WV by her late mother and father, Albert (Jack) D. Cain, 1916-2008, and Anna Geraldine Cain (née Grimm), 1921-2019. Jennifer was a mathematician, receiving her Bachelor’s from Marietta College in 1978, followed by a Master’s in Divinity at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1981. Her parents, devout followers of Christ, sparked Jennifer’s lifelong journey as a spiritual leader, beginning as a youth pastor at Flemington Baptist Church. Her Christian beliefs were grounded in inclusivity, compassion, and a progressive feminism that at times put her at odds with archaic tenets of the church, but never her faith. She always believed, and her heart and home remained open to people of all backgrounds, evident in the lasting friendships she’d forged throughout her life and the remarkable outpouring of memories at the news of her passing.
At the start of the pandemic, she was full of wisdom on how to happily work from home, which she’d been doing since 2005 as a Sr. Principal Product Manager at Oracle. Prior to Oracle, she’d held senior roles at the EDS Corporation, the Chubb Institute, Foamex, and the Franklin Mint, receiving high praise from her colleagues and awards for professional excellence throughout her career. Jennifer, an only child, became a mother of eight children, adopted in quick succession between the late eighties and early nineties when she was living in New Jersey. There was no cursing in Jennifer’s household, a rule that moved with them to the Philadelphia area in 1998 and was often broken during the teenage years, but there was a deep capacity for love, appreciation for music, and thirst for travel. The limitations imposed by quarantine dovetailed with the understanding that her aggressive cancer was terminal, and her desire to take one last cruise vacation, the first one for her children, was postponed. Still, she never stopped planning, and so her family is determined to board an ocean liner and follow her itinerary when it’s safe. Those plans would not have been made without the thoughtful intervention of her primary doctor turned close friend, Dr. Lisa Johnson of Main Line Health, who encouraged Jennifer to get a biopsy, and the chemotherapy treatments recommended by Dr. Erik Zeger, also of Main Line Heath. Jennifer credited them for extending her life by years, and her family is deeply grateful for their foresight and valiant efforts. Without them, we’d have lost out on the cherished memories that followed Jennifer’s diagnosis in 2017.
Jennifer always had a fresh manicure. Over the years, her nails, painted in every color on the spectrum and brightened by glitter when she was feeling extra fabulous, would dance across piano keys. She was a masterful pianist, providing accompaniment during her years as a member of the Anna Crusis Woman’s Choir of Philadelphia and at First Presbyterian Church in Lansdowne, where she met her life partner, cruise mate, and world-traveling companion, Richard Smalley. Jennifer played her piano until the very end, leaving her loved ones with recordings she’d made as she approached the last few months of her life. Song is where she’d nurture her relationship with Christ and bear witness to the pain of losing two young children, Lora (1989-2001) and John (1985-1992), to HIV/AIDS. The beauty of her piano playing was matched by her singing, so rich with emotion as it traveled up from the bottom of her heart, filling the room and, very often, her listeners’ eyes with tears of thanks.
“I don’t want to be forgotten,” Jennifer admitted to her children three weeks ago before reading out a letter revealing her intention to establish the Cain Memorial Fund for Expanded Christian Education. This last act of benevolence embodies her beautiful spirit and generosity that will now have a path to echo through the years. (Donations can be made here.) https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-cain-memorial-fund . But even without this fund, Jennifer will never be forgotten because so much of her spirit remains within and around us.
Jennifer Sue Cain is survived by her devoted partner, Richard Smalley of Lansdowne, PA; her six adoring children, all residing in the Philadelphia area: Kurt Cain-Walther (Amy DiLorenzo); Mary Cain-Walther; Sherry Cain-Walther (Meron Habte); Mark Cain-Walther; Carla Cain-Walther (Nathaniel Basch-Gould); Melissa Cain-Walther; and her two beautiful grandchildren, Mary’s daughters, La’Niiyah Cain-Walther and Na’Leiya Cain-Walther, who at the tender ages of 15 and 11, bravely attended to Jennifer’s needs, held her hands, and assured her, again and again, that they will always remember their grandmother.
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Cain Memorial Fund for Expanded Christian Education