We were at a baby shower Sunday afternoon in South Jersey when BFF Ann called to tell us the news that QVC Quacker Factory queen Jeanne Bice had died of uterine cancer.
Ann had read Joanie-B’s post on our blog tipping us off to the sad news. Thanks for the info Joanie.
Bice, who would have celebrated her 72nd birthday July 20, passed away Friday. We had not been aware of it, but last month Bice announced she had cancer during one of her QVC appearances. She had been scheduled to appear on QVC today, Sunday, our kid sister Karen’s birthday.
Bice was a jumbo-sized woman, and proud of it. She always wore a headband around her forehead, like Jane Fonda in the 70s, as if she was about to take an aerobics class.
Bice was the target of jabs by the media — this blog included — and show’s like E!’s “Talk Soup” because of her QVC clothes line and her army of rabid fans.
Her garments were typically strewn with sequins, or arrayed with scenes from Christmas or Halloween or Easter. We thought them often gaudy, but we often heard her fans — her “quackers” — like teachers call in and thank her for the clothes, which the kids they taught loved.
Bice was also resfreshingly frank about life. We remember her saying that on-air that she didn’t have a pot to piss in when her husband died. She built a clothing business Quacker Factory, and was always upbeat and inspirational.
She often told QVC viewers to “believe in miracles.” That struck a cord with us. We have little signs and rocks in our house that have the word written “believe” on them. Our ex, a college professor, mocked us about the “believe” affirmations. Cynics like him will always feel superior to the rest of the world — and be miserable themselves. He thought having faith was folly.
We’d rather stand with people like Jeanne, who also often said that she believed people have guardian angels. Again, so do we.
Jeanne was from Wisconsin, and we have a number of good friends in that freezing state. That was another strike in her favor.
QVC had a brief eulogy about Jeanne on its website.
“We are saddened by the news of Jeanne Bice’s passing,” wrote Doug Howe, QVC executive vice president merchandising, planning and sales. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones during this difficult time. Since first appearing on QVC in 1995 Jeanne has been one of our most beloved personalities. Her passion and spirit will be greatly missed by all who knew her.”
Posters on Facebook and QVC.com have been speculating about the future of Quacker Factory without Jeanne. We are sure she has management in place that run the company, and the plus-sized model Angel Smedley often appeared on the air in her place. Angel, appropriately enough, could be the company’s news spokeswoman.
The QVC hosts voiced their sorrow about her passing.
“She was candid, she was hilarious, and she was always, always, Always kind and respectful to everyone at the Q,” host Rick Domeier wrote on Facebook. “With love to you and your family Jeanne…”
Host Lisa Robertson posted on Facebook, “I was just informed that Jeanne Bice has passed away.I am without words. I had no idea her condition was that serious. I can not express the loss that I feel. She was a ray of light in the world. I was her biggest fan and she made me want to be a better person. If someone were to compare me to her,I could not think of higher praise. She was a treasure.”
Even ex-QVC host Patti Reilly, now transplanted to LA, posted this heartfelt message.
“Weeping & aching I longed to honor your passing. i longed to honor your life. searching everywhere, I found only one answer: honor myself. become all that I am. and carry you inside that beauty.” bonesigharts.com,” she wrote. “I love and adore you Jeanne. You have been a blessing in my life. I hope they have rhinestones in Heaven. Sparkle away, my beautiful friend!”
And the Quacker Factory website had this tribute:
Jeanne Bice loved life. From her childhood in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin-taking care of her baby brother Dick, all through her married years to her adoring Butch in Ripon, Wisconsin, raising her beloved Tim and Lee, Jeanne was surrounded by love. Everyone loved to be at Jeanne’s house. That’s where the party was-everyday.
Life was perfect, until that day when Butch suddenly died and left her with her two children, and decisions to make.
As she later wrote about it, she pulled herself up by her bra straps and started over. Again and again. She discovered that Happy wasn’t a destination in life. ‘Happy comes from the choices we make and the way we think on life’s journey.’
Jeanne chose to love. She loved what she did-creating Quacker Factory clothes, with ‘sparkle and shine’. Clothes that made people Happy.
She loved QVC. Everything about it. She loved the people: the executives who ran it, and the production people who worked so hard to make every show perfect. She loved the famous stars who appeared there, and had to pinch herself when others considered her one.
She loved the hosts of her shows, her buyers and all the people who worked with her and for her to make Quacker Factory clothes a reality.
But most of all-above everything else – Jeanne loved the Quackers. ‘They come as customers, they stay as friends,’ she said over and over. Because that was how she felt. ‘I owe everything I have to these women who believe in me.’
Jeanne loved the stories they told her. On the cruises, at live-audience shows, or on phone calls during the shows. She would sit and listen. She could relate to them. She knew the power of friends to help each other, support each other.
It never mattered who you were. Rich, famous, powerful or not-it didn’t matter. Successful or struggling, size 4 or 44 – it never mattered. She loved who you were inside. She had time for everyone.
In college Jeanne studied to become a teacher. She’d laugh when she’d tell the story of practice-teaching and discovered that kids had their own ideas about how to do things. She said she gave up teaching, but that’s really not true.
Her most important lesson was that Jeanne Bice taught the world how to laugh and smile. She taught us how to look at the good side of things. She taught us to Dream. She taught us to Believe. She taught us to love ourselves; who we are, just as we are.
In the Rubber Duck Principle, Jeanne wrote this about Angels:
‘Sometimes we feel that we are all alone, as life brings us challenges to overcome and hardships to bear. But when we least expect it, help can appear. It may be a kind word from a stranger or a phone call at just the right time, and suddenly we are surrounded by the loving grace of God. Miracles happen everyday because angels are everywhere.’
Today, June 10, 2011, Jeanne joined the Angels who will make miracles happen forever.
God Bless Jeanne Bice. May she rest in Peace.
If you would like to make a memorial in Jeanne’s name, we suggest: ‘Feed the Children’, http://www.feedthechildren.org. This was Jeanne’s favorite charity.
Jeanne, please be one of our angels now.