In 1977, Jean Headley Darmody came to Pacifica to live. She quickly fell in love with the city. That love for her beloved Coastside community continued until her death on April 24, 2022. She was 75 years old.
After a four-month illness, Darmody died peacefully with husband Daniel Darmody holding her hand at her Seton Medical Center bedside. She really tried to get better; she was determined to come home to her husband and two cats. But there was too much damage from the COVID-19 virus.
It was Darmody’s love of the city that helped bring the Pacific Coast Fog Fest to Pacifica.
In 1983, Darmody served on a City Council-appointed task force to promote commercial development in Pacifica. Two of the committee members were Councilmembers Peter Loeb and Ginny Jaquith. They were joined by the late Al Malick.
“We decided to propose an annual festival. We thought about the idea that if life hands you lemons, make lemonade. The subcommittee’s recommendation eventually became the Pacific Coast Fog Fest,” said Loeb, who is now a member of the Coastside News Group Inc. governing board that owns the Pacifica Tribune.
Loeb first met Jean Headley Darmody when he needed some work done through her typing services. She owned her own business, Headley Office Services, a home-based secretarial service that offered typing, notary and personal assistance. She opened the business in 1979. Her moniker was “Clean Jean, the Typing Queen.” She also was the scribe for the fire, police and water district departments at their monthly meetings. She worked 10 years for the city of Pacifica as a legal secretary, retiring in 1989.
“She asked me how she could get informed about city issues. I said, ‘Read the Tribune.’ She did,” said Loeb. “Jean became the parade chair of the Fog Fest and Pacifica’s biggest booster, wearing her ‘I Heart Pacifica’ button every day and everywhere she went.”
Until she went into the hospital in December, Darmody wore her heart button every day, defying anybody to catch her not wearing it. According to her husband, nobody ever did.
“Jean loved Pacifica. She created the ‘I Luv Pacifica’ button and wore it religiously. She was one of the founders of the Fog Fest and served as its coordinator for years. She drove the Fog Fest mermaid atop her car (1986 Mercedes 560 SL) every year in the parade. She worked tirelessly to promote Pacifica,” said Jaquith. “She was a special friend to all of us who had the pleasure of working with her over these many years. Pacifica will miss her commitment, and we will all miss her love, friendship, and spirit.”
For the 30th annual Pacific Coast Fog Fest in 2015, Darmody, Jaquith and Loeb were honored as grand marshals of the Discover Pacifica Parade.
In 2013, she was hired as the Tribune’s proofreader. She was a meticulous worker, and detested finding a typo in a story. She left the paper in 2017.
Jean Bartlett is a biographer and former longtime Pacifica Tribune writer.
"Jean was a fierce proofreader, who slayed misguided punctuation with flair and, sometimes, a good-natured scream," Bartlett said. "I liked her the first time I met her. That was in 2009. I did a feature on Jean and her husband, Daniel, highlighting some of the things they had done to spotlight Pacifica. She was a powerful, good voice for this community. I imagine she is plugging it now."
Born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, Darmody lived in Southern California from 1965 to 1976, working for McDonnell Douglas, Mobil Oil and ARCO. She moved to Pacifica in 1976 and purchased her current home in 1977 where she opened her secretarial services business.
“Jean excelled in typing in high school. Although she did not go to college, her secretarial skills were exceptional,” said her husband, Daniel. “Originally from Ohio, she came to Los Angeles where she worked as a secretary for Chevron. Needing extra money she worked nights as a bartender/go-go dancer. Her goal was to own a house.”
“Given a typing job or an organizational job, Jean would be in her element. That’s what she liked to do. She loved her clients,” said Daniel Darmody. “She had some favorite quotes: ‘There’s a place for everything; everything in its place.’ ‘If you have time to do it over, you have time to do it the first time.’ That’s a Virgo for you. That was part of her charm.”
Daniel and Jean Headley Darmody have been married for 29 years.
“I was introduced to Jean through Melissa Brazis, who is my best friend’s wife. We went together for five years before I asked her to marry me on Valentine’s Day in 1993. The interesting thing is that I am an Aquarius with Virgo rising, married to a Virgo,” said Darmody.
“We both were always right. When I would say something, she’d tell me that’s not right. I would say, yes, it is. We’d go back and forth on determining who was right. We loved challenging each other,” said Daniel. “We never went to bed mad. We like to argue against each other about things; it was always a friendly argument. At night, we would apologize, kiss each other and go to bed.”
The two loved puzzle television shows, especially “Wheel of Fortune.”
Daniel said, “Jean was the best player who never got on the show. She could solve the puzzles really fast. She always wanted to be on the show. She went to auditions and waited in line. One time she got inside the theater but did not get called to go on stage.”
“Jean was the most loving wife that I could have hoped for and I will always love her,” her husband said.
Darmody was predeceased by her father, William Edward Headley, mother Ellen Louise Camm, and sister Judy Younger. She is survived by her husband, Daniel Darmody, son John Andrews, and John’s stepbrother, David, who is like a son to Darmody, brothers John and Jim Headley, grandchildren Carole Ann Andrews-Witham, Donald Christopher Waller, Josh Andrews, Chrissy Walsh and Courtney Andrews, nieces Carole Eatough, Joyce Bennin and Chris Witham, and nephew Michael Witham.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at Chapel by the Sea, 801 Oceana Blvd. in Pacifica. (Greetings at 10 a.m.) A reception at the Sharp Park Restaurant will follow.