Irene Jackie Combs was born in Rock Castle County, Kentucky on February 15, 1938. She lived in Dayton, Ohio for many years until moving to Apopka, Florida in 1974. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Kentucky University and her Master’s Degree from the University of Central Florida. She was a lifelong educator. Even after she retired from teaching, she was only a phone call away from her students—and those “students” included those she had in the classroom as well as everyone who looked to her for advice and encouragement along the way.
She treasured her family. She raised two wonderful sons, Mark and Frank, who were her pride and joy. She worked tirelessly as a single mom to raise them—and her hard-work ethic lives on in both of her boys. But more importantly, her open heart and giving spirit live on in them. She got such joy from her boys and their families: Mark, Lisa, Madison, Gunnar, Brady and Jack—and Frank, Kelli, Logan, Hunter, Trent, Hope, Gabriel, Blakely and Josie.
One of the biggest blessings of her life was when Troy Combs walked into her life. The two former high school sweethearts fell in love and spent the next 32 years living the adventure of that love—including a few stops at Goodwill Stores and Cracker Barrels. To see the two of them together was to know for sure what love—and maybe patience—looks like. Thanks to Troy, Denise, Colin, Nicole and Austin, and Steve, Tammy, Lindsey, Justin, Derek, Taylor, Dalton, Josh, Kim, Alexis, Elizabeth, Bryson, Kaysen and Easton became part of the family.
Jackie was a Christian who lived her life as the hand and feet of her Savior. And that was more than just opening conversations with, “Honey, are you a Christian?” She lived out Christ’s call to help one another. Whatever she had, she shared. You were hungry—she fed you. You needed a job—she started making phone calls. You needed someone to remind you that you mattered—she was there. And always pointed to Jesus as the author of her love. When she got to heaven on Sunday, she probably told Jesus, “Well, if they haven’t heard about You, it wasn’t because of me.” There may be many mysteries in this life, but where Jackie is right now is not one of them.
To think about Jackie is to think about love. She loved strong—the kind of love that holds on tight and doesn’t let go. Ever. Ask anyone who knew her and they will tell you that. And as hard as it is to say goodbye to her now, we know she is safe in the arms of Jesus—and that she will be waiting for us on the other side. Possibly even with something she found for us at the Goodwill Store in heaven.
“And now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Love. Immeasurable and eternal. Until we see you again, Jackie, we will keep the love going.
A Celebration of Life Service will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 30, 2019 at the Jamison Theater at the Factory in Franklin, TN, 230 Franklin Road, Franklin, TN.