It’s been a week since Jean Deed’s Celebration of Life. A little over a year since she died during the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic after battling nine years of cancer. And 26 years since I met Jean when she walked into my office, and our lives were forever altered on a path of adventure around the world.
As I sat at Jean’s memorial celebration, I was reminded yet again of the hundreds of women who have traveled with Jean and whose lives were changed as a result of knowing her. It has inspired me to share her story and keep her legacy alive more than ever before.
In 1995, Indianapolis Woman magazine featured both Jean and me, dubbing us “Women of Adventure”. I was beyond humbled to be categorized with Jean, as she had just finished hiking the entire Appalachian Train, all 2,155 miles through 14 states in six months, the year before we met. I had just hiked the Inca Trail in Peru, all 28 miles over four mountain passes, on a 10-day trip leading 16 other women.
Jean became my inspiration to make sure our separate adventures weren’t a onetime event. We began hiking at Eagle Creek in Indianapolis on a regular basis, brainstorming trip ideas for women. We both deeply believed that women who step out of their comfort zone on a new adventure experience real personal growth.
At the time I was Director of a travel company called Ambassadair. I started in 1975 as a flight attendant (formerly called stewardess back then) and had worked my way up through the ranks in those two decades. My favorite part of the job, besides leading groups worldwide, was coming up with different types of travel offerings, instead of trips just being about the destination. Here are just a few programs added into our flight schedule: Cultural Connections, the Write Stuff, Golden Globers, a series of fashion shows on our plane to key cities, Family Adventures, and more!
After our first walk, Jean was onboard to start leading trips called Women for Adventure. It became an immediate success. The women would come back from a hike in Europe and couldn’t wait to hear where the next trip was going. Jean led adventures to six continents, only excluding Antarctica.
I have also loved leading adventure trips over my career, from Banff, Canada to Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. It has been a joy to have led adventure, yoga and service trips to the rainforest in Costa Rica several times a year the past sixteen years as well. I now look forward to leading two groups of women on a 70-mile trek on the Camino de Santiago in Spain next May, which will be another annual signature trip along with Costa Rica.
The interest of women in these types of adventures is only growing, and it is an exciting new era that I announce Maryjane Sweet (Behforouz) takes the reign as President with the goal to add more exciting new adventures. I will continue in my favorite role as Chief Passion Officer for all we do.
My hope is that Women for Adventure trips will always remain a legacy for my wonderful and terribly missed friend, Jean.
You Will Be Missed
Saying goodbyeBy Stephannie Beaudette
Was the hardest thing to do.
I never thought I would,
Especially not to you.
You always listened
And knew what to say,
Knew when to give a hug
When I was having a bad day.
No one will ever take your place.
I can always promise you this.
It’s hard to find someone like you,
So know you’ll always be missed.