It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Jennifer Meals Kalajian, our loving wife, mother, sister, and friend. At the age of 69, Jenny left this world too soon, but not before packing as much as she could into her seven decades. Together with her husband, Jeff, her children, Lisa and Tom, and many friends, Jenny traveled the world and saw as much of its beauty and awesomeness as she could. In turn, she made her own contributions to that beauty.
Born in Newport News, VA, Jenny was the daughter of Donald W. and Kathleen (Briner) Meals. Growing up in Virginia and then in Lexington, MA, Jenny developed a lifelong passion for horseback riding. She later learned to drive her family’s Triumph Herald, an experience that kindled a lifelong love of Triumphs, convertibles, and manual transmissions. After graduating from high school, Jenny attended Albright College in Reading, PA. In her senior year, she met her future husband Jeffrey Kalajian and Jenny and Jeff haven’t been apart since.
Jenny later received her Certificate in Physical Therapy from Columbia University in New York City. She was a skilled physical therapist and worked for Hackensack Hospital, Morris County VNA, Cedar Crest and lastly, in private practice. Jenny served the needs of hundreds of local patients, receiving their love and gratitude, even as she pushed them with painful but necessary exercises. Jenny and Jeff were married in 1979 and settled down in the community of Fayson Lakes in Kinnelon. There, Jenny and Jeff raised their two children Tom and Lisa while working hard in their own careers. The family regularly attended The Community Church in Smoke Rise where Jenny served as a Trustee and Sunday School teacher. At home, Jenny loved gardening, kayaking, and floating on their mobile “dock.” Jenny took on the mantle of her mother’s home and family passions and hosted numerous outdoor parties and family holiday celebrations, surrounding herself and others with the love and laughter of those she held most dear. Each year, her children would delight with the elaborate themed birthday cakes that she would create, well before the over-the-top cake baking shows of today were on TV. Jenny continued her mother’s tradition of baking hundreds of Christmas cookies each year, as well as putting on fabulous holiday feasts.
Early on, Jenny and Jeff committed to a life of adventure. Through their engagement and 44 years of marriage, their travels took them through most of the U.S. National Parks – in an especially challenging adventure, Jenny and Jeff accomplished a four-day “rim to rim” backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. Jenny and Jeff visited six continents in their frequent international travels, including a safari in Africa, exploration of the Galapagos and Machu Picchu, and an intentional plunge into the Antarctic sea. Back in the U.S., Jenny especially loved the warm waters of Florida’s gulf coast where she would spend extended periods of time with her brother Don at her family’s condominium. There, Jenny would frequently bicycle, parasail, kayak and swim. Afterwards, she would enjoy a gin and tonic with her feet in the sand and her face toward the setting sun
Jenny loved music and the arts. Although Jenny and Jeff would twice attend the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Jenny’s most memorable concert was Jimmy Buffett’s on the beach in Atlantic City. Jenny was a major supporter of the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, NJ where she would enjoy numerous concerts and would meet and greet Tony Bennett, Dave Mason, William Shatner and Jay Leno. Like her father, Jenny loved to see Gilbert and Sullivan, especially a performance of Iolanthe.
In retirement, Jenny and Jeff enjoyed road-tripping to their second home on Anna Maria Island , searching for barbecue and exploring new places along the way. Turning north, they loved to visit her brother, Don, and his family at their home in Burlington, VT, too. Even when they were close to home, Jeff and Jenny were always exploring, known to head out for a drive in their Porsche, top down with the wind in their hair, exploring the back roads of Northern New Jersey in search of the next great ice cream cone.
Jenny’s visible legacy will live on every spring as her beautiful gardens return to bloom. Her legacy will also live on in her fierce love of her family and the gifts she gave them. She is survived by her devoted husband, Jeff; her children, Lisa and Tom; her brother, Don Meals Jr., his wife Mary Sullivan, and their daughter, Kaela; as well as many, many dear friends.
Visiting hours will be held Saturday, January 13, 2024 from 2-8 pm at the M. John Scanlan Funeral Home, Pompton Plains.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Jenny’s memory to METAvivor (https://donate.metavivor.org/give/318818/#!/donation/checkout) would be greatly appreciated by her loving family.
For more information, or to leave an online condolence for the family, please visit www.scanlanfuneral.com
Posted online on January 10, 2024
Published in Record and Herald News