To her family, Jessica Benton was a bright light, to her patients she was a source of strength and knowledge, and to her friends she was a generous supporter. In a life that ended far too soon, Jessica’s passing is a tragic loss for an array of people, but to never have known her and to never have loved her, is an even greater loss. As Jessica’s husband Adam endures immense heartache, he is comforted by the happy memories that will be shared forever with her circle of family, friends, colleagues, patients and the support from the Winthrop community.
A natural born caretaker, Jessica always looked after her older brother, Michael Cloutier.
“She was always reminding Michael about Father’s Day and she’d even buy the card for him and make him write something meaningful inside it before he gave it to me,” said Jessica’s father, Paul Cloutier. “She kept the entire family on track, reminding us of important dates and keeping us organized.”
Family was everything to Jessica. Having grown up with 28 cousins, she never longed for friendship and learned the importance of generosity at a young age. On July 4, 2013, moments before she married Adam, it was her family that surprised her with a 68-person flash mob in an Aruba hotel. Her mother, Nancy Cloutier, thinks back to the memory with a smile.
“I’ll never forget it. Everyone started slowly leaving the pool and Jessica got mad because she thought everyone was ditching her on her wedding day. And then she walked off the elevator to see her big, crazy family dancing a choreographed routine to ‘Shake Shake Senora.’”
It didn’t take long for Jessica to join in and dance along with them, as she was pulled into a conga line of matching shirts that read “Jessica and Adam.” These are the memories that her family will cling to and share with her three-year-old daughter (Alexis) and four-month-old son (Anderson) when they ask what their mom was like.
They will also tell them about Jessica’s giving heart and her knack for coupon cutting.
“She would find all the best coupons and when she had a bunch she’d go to the store and practically make money from the cashier,” Nancy recalled. “The cashiers always knew when Jessica was on a coupon mission.”
It was what she did after the coupon mission that impacted countless lives. She would donate the products that she got with the coupons to the local food pantry.
Now, as Nancy and Paul help take care of Jessica’s two children, they are starting to see similarities in their granddaughter Alexis.
“We are seeing a lot of Jessica’s personality in Alexis,” said Nancy. “When we ask Alexis where mommy is, she puts her hand over her heart and says, “she’s right here.””
Jessica’s goodness spilled over into her work life, and she impacted countless lives during her six years working as a nurse practitioner at Dr. Gary Pransky’s office. According to the staff, it will never be the same without her.
“I’ll never forget when Jessica first came in to interview,” said Office Manager Elaine Faro. “She was the first nurse practitioner that Dr. Pransky hired, and we didn’t think anyone would fit in. But when Jessica walked in, we knew she was the perfect fit. Since then she has become my friend, my colleague and my family. She was truly the kindest, caring person, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. She will be forever missed. She was the best mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, coworker, friend and nurse practitioner anyone could ask for.”
Nancy and Paul are still sifting through the many letters from patients who were comforted by their daughter over the years.
“I started seeing Jessica because I had to switch to an adult doctor and I was scared,” said Daria Millerick. “She made me feel welcomed and cared for immediately, like I had been seeing her my entire life. Whenever I went to see her, she was so detail oriented and remembered absolutely everything about me. She always said, “you know if you ever need anything at all or have any questions you can always call me.’”
On July 4, 2020, on the date that was both her seventh wedding anniversary and Alexis’s third birthday, her family followed through with a circus-themed birthday party that Jessica had planned before she passed on June 28th. In the backyard of the dream home that Jessica designed herself, the family gathered, celebrating both a life that was lived fully and a life that is just beginning to sprout.
“Having the family together was all that Jessica wanted and she made us promise to have the party going forward,” said Nancy. “We are so grateful and touched by the outpouring of love and support from the community and from her work community (TMCCC) and MelroseWakefield Healthcare. We are truly overwhelmed.”