Jeanne Knowles

Public Wake

4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Sunday, July 9, 2023
Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home
43 Winn Street
Burlington, Massachusetts, United States
Visiting Hours

Obituary of Jeanne Marie Knowles

Jeanne Marie (Vigneau) Knowles passed away peacefully at Lahey Clinic, Burlington on July 5, 2023. She was the beloved mother to a family of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, spouses, and partners totaling over 100 people. This is not to mention the many nieces, nephews, and their extended families. She began her life in Burlington where she was born in the dining room of her parents’ home on Bedford Street, when it was still an unpaved road. She grew up there, attending Burlington schools right through her high school graduation, where she and Gene were not only classmates, but high school sweethearts. She sang in church choirs and began studying dance at an early age. She continued singing and dancing right through high school and was an assistant dance instructor at her school in her late teen years.

Jeanne and husband Gene began their family in 1949. Jeanne was the glue, holding the household together as it grew over the years, shopping at the discount stores, buying in bulk (before the big box bulk stores even existed), keeping everyone fed, and clothed. Gene would sometimes be working several jobs to keep the income up, but Jeanne contributed significantly through her singing career. From the time she was a teenager until late in life she sang as a soloist at weddings and funerals at churches in Burlington and all the surrounding towns. And along with her solo work she was a member of various choirs and choruses, such as the Mishawum Choral Society and LaSallette Choir.

Besides singing Jeanne had various outside the home jobs over the years. Right after high school she worked for a bank in Boston, commuting with her father Al Vigneau who was an accountant for the treasury. Later, she worked at Sears at the Burlington Mall, handling customer problems. With a house full of kids, she already had experience dealing with person-to-person difficulties. After raising all their kids Jeanne and Gene moved to Gloucester for about 15 years. For several years she owned and managed the Lobster Cove Market and Marina in Annisquam.

Along with her skills with kids, family, and shoppers Jeanne was a very adept craftsperson. She learned how to hook rugs and at one time handed out her own business card as “The Happy Hooker”. She was also a quilter. She displayed her work at quilting meetings and conventions and instructed some classes. A cherished family gift was the personal quilt she made for each one of her children and later, starting with her first great-grandchild, a quilt for every new birth in the family. Along with rugs and quilts Jeanne also lovingly hand painted wooden Christmas ornaments, often cut out by Gene. She began by making many copies of her one ornament for everyone. After several years she started making two different ornaments, one for each of her children and another for each grandchild. And when it became necessary, she added a third ornament for each great-grandchild. The ornaments were different each year. We now have decades of ornaments, a collection that can be displayed in a photo book like a catalog of fine art.

In later years, Jeanne took to the computer revolution. She was an active emailer and Facebook user. She wasn't fully digital because a favorite activity was to grab recipes, quilt photos, other photos and memes and then print these out. She had a huge collection of printed pages that she would share with family and friends. And of course, her favorite computer activity may have been solitaire!  Then she would relax from the computer, watching TV or doing her many jigsaw puzzles.

The family lost our Dad, Gene, in 2018. This week we lost our Mom, Jeanne. But as all eleven children and so many others know, what we are today we owe to our “genes”.

Jeanne was the beloved wife of the late Eugene “Gene” R. Knowles.  She was the loving mother of Richard Knowles & his wife Kathleen of Reading, Kathleen Cesere of Burlington, Denis Knowles of Bellows Falls, VT, Kenneth Knowles & his wife Catherine of Spencer, William Knowles & his wife Karen of Auburn NH, Patricia Talas & her husband Peter of Haverhill, Lawrence Knowles & his wife Suzanne of Billerica, Laura McCadden & her husband Shawn of Brookline NH, Robert Knowles of New Ipswich, NH, John Knowles and his wife Natalie of Wakefield, and Steven Knowles of Billerica.  She was predeceased by her parents Albert Vigneau & Helen (Mehlinger) Vigneau and her siblings and their spouses Ruth Walsh & her husband John, Albert Vigneau & his wife Emily, and Robert Vigneau & his wife Alice. Jeanne was also survived by 29 grandchildren, 31 great grandchildren, and 1 great great grandchild.

Visiting hours will be held at the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St., BURLINGTON on Sunday, July 9 from 4-7 p.m.  Funeral services will be private.

Memorials in Jeanne’s name may be made to People Helping People, www., P.O. Box 343, Burlington, MA 01803.

For directions obituary, video tribute & online guestbook see


Share Your Memory of