June 24, 1928 — Aug. 21, 2019
On New Year's Eve 2018, Jean R. Rohrer made a toast that was both positive and philosophical.
She said, "We have to hope for the best and deal with what happens."
The toast, her family said, exemplified "how she has faced how own challenges this year, with great character, strength and grace."
When he was a young teenager, Mrs. Rohrer's son, Charlie, dubbed her "Jovial Jean," a sweet nickname that stuck, said her daughter, Barbara. "It was fun and funny, and it captured her cheerful, sunny attitude," her daughter said. "He still says it, and it brings a laugh, and everybody agrees with it."
Mrs. Rohrer, a real estate agent for 30 years, the family matriarch and center of many circles of friends throughout her life, died Aug. 21, 2019, in her Town of Tonawanda home. She was 91.
She was born Jean Alean Richards at home in Rochester, the first child of Arthur R. Richards and Alean Hahn.
The family moved to Kenmore in 1936, when she was 8 years old, and she attended third grade at Lindberg School. They then moved to Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, where she attended School 54 and graduated in 1946 from Lafayette High School.
She and her younger sister, Nancy Jane, "shared a large and lively group of friends" associated with Lafayette Presbyterian Church, her daughter said.
Mrs. Rohrer was a 1950 graduate of the business school at the University at Buffalo, where she belonged to "Cap and Gown," served as president and treasurer of Sigma Kappa sorority and earned the Norton Union Key for leadership in extracurricular activities.
She worked at Sunset Feed and Grain in Buffalo from 1950 to 1954.
She and her husband, Robert A. Rohrer, met while they were students at UB. They married in the rectory of St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Buffalo on Aug. 8, 1953.
Robert Rohrer went to work at Bell Aircraft in the 1950s. He was on the research crews for the rocket powered aircraft X-1A, which Chuck Yeager used to break the sound barrier, and the X-2. The young family drove cross-country with their first child to live near Edwards Air Force Base for three months in 1953, four months in 1955 and for a year starting in 1955.
In 1956, they bought a home on Crosby Avenue in Kenmore that became a gathering spot for neighborhood youngsters. "With four children born within five years, Mom had her hands full," said her daughter, Barbara. "Luckily Mom had a 'Don’t cry over spilled milk' attitude. She was always kind, understanding and forgiving."
In 1969, after her children were in school, Mrs. Rohrer earned a state real estate sales license. She worked for Reilly Real Estate on Englewood Avenue in Kenmore from 1969 until 1985, then worked in the Kenmore/Town of Tonawanda office of Hunt Real Estate.
At Hunt, she became a mentor and a member of Agent Advisors. She was a consistent Millioner Award winner and received the Presidential Award for Sales Excellence in 1986. She retired from Hunt in 1999.
In 1970, the Rohrers bought a lot on Kashwakamak Lake in Ontario, and with family, cleared the land and built a log cabin in the woods on the lake. The vacation cabin became a popular destination for friends and family, her daughter said.
In 1977, they moved to Woodstock Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda.
From 1964 to 1968, Mrs. Rohrer was a Girl Scout leader and organizer. She was a volunteer at Kenmore Mercy Hospital for two years and later became a hospice volunteer.
Her family described Mrs. Rohrer as "a devoted and loving wife, mother and friend." She and her husband enjoyed hosting parties, which allowed her to show off her cooking skills. With her sister, Nancy, and Nancy's husband, Jim Cownie, the Rohrers participated in a couple's dinner club. She was also active in bridge clubs.
In 1998, Mrs. Rohrer started two ladies lunch groups, "The Hunt Girls" for her real estate co-workers and "Gott’s Totts" for fellow Lafayette High School alumni. She continued to organize events and call everyone for 20 years, her daughter said.
After they retired, the couple traveled regularly to visit their children and grandchildren in Laguna Beach, Ca., and Fairfax, Va. Starting in 1997, they rented a place in Laguna Beach for three months at the end of the winter.
Mrs. Rohrer was a member of Zion United Church of Christ, where she was a greeter.
Robert A. Rohrer died on Jan. 18, 2010.
Besides Barbara Rohrer, Mrs. Rohrer is survived by another daughter, Beverly Combs; two sons, Charles and Kenneth Rohrer; six grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 21 in the Dengler, Roberts, Perna Funeral Home, 3070 Delaware Ave., Kenmore.