Amazing Women of the Suncoast: Jeanne Dexter

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Posted: Monday, July 7, 2014 4:22 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Remember that old saying, "anything that doesn't kill you will just make you stronger?" Well this amazing Suncoast woman has certainly proved that it's true.

Jeanne Dexter was living a life of tremendous good fortune, when suddenly she was hit by one disaster after another: 19 funerals in 15 years. Here's how she got it through it all and used her pain to help others.

She was born in Dayton, Ohio. “I wanted to be the first woman baseball player in the Major League."

But as she grew, her interests changed. In high school she won awards in competitive speaking, and held a job. "By 17 I was an assistant manager for a clothing store in the mall, and I was in clothing for 17 years."

Those were exciting years. "I got married when I was 19. I got divorced when I was 24."

But her career soared, and cupid struck again. "I had met someone in Florida, so I eventually moved to Florida and I got married again. I was 30 years old."

She had two children, and started a catering business. "That marriage ended in divorce in 1997, and that was very tough."

And to help her kids talk out their pain, she and their counselor created a sort of game called a “talking jar”. For example, the anger jar. “You open the jar, and inside is a deck of cards, and everybody answers each question, because that's what creates the dialog."

It helped her and her kids tremendously. In 2000 she met her own Prince Charming, Doug Dexter.

But then tragedies, one after another struck. "Two months after the wedding, my brother passed away at 47."

Then her dad died, her 13 year old nephew killed himself, close friends died. "My mother got cancer and passed away, and then I got breast cancer."

For each crisis, she created a talking jar: one for grief, cancer, marriage, teens.

The jars helped her family so much, she now markets them to others. "I really saw there was potential to help others, especially when I got to grief and cancer."

And she says she has learned that by helping others, she has eased her own pain. And she and Doug have found great joy in life.

There are now 13 jars, ranging from life and legacy to cancer. You get one by going to www.talkingjars.com.

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