O’FALLON, Mo. – Jenni Huddleston is retiring after 25 years of teaching. While most retirees look forward to knocking things off their bucket list, Jenni is focused on a different list.
“She’s retiring this year and we had a big party planned, and of course with the COVID, that’s put a wrinkle in those plans. So, we decided to have a drive-by parade and celebrate her retirement,” said Don Staten, Jenni’s father.
Family, friends, students, and co-workers coordinated a surprise drive-by retirement party for her. Before leaving to pull up to her home, they all met in a Gordman’s parking lot and talked about how much Jenni means to them and has touched their lives.
“She’s a teacher that you want to emulate, someone that you want to be like. She is always happy and always trying to do for others rather than herself,” said Colleen Dalton, friend, and co-worker.
As she leaves teaching and enters this new phase of life, Mrs. Huddleston is faced with a new challenge.
“Part of the reason she’s retiring is to take care of her health. She’s on the kidney transplant list,” said her father.
Dalton said that Jenni has kept her failing kidney a secret for quite some time. It unfortunately got to a point where she had to let people know what was going on.
Jenni’s son, Josh Huddleston, knows his mother will fight for her life to the finish. He said she is the “strongest, most courageous person he has ever known.”
108 cars drove by her house dropping off gifts, cards, and flowers; a small token of their appreciation for someone who has had such a big impact on their lives.
“There is not enough words. Not enough hugs that could express what this woman means not only to me but to this entire community,” said Dalton.