Jacqueline Arbegust (1921 – 2021) obituary – Friendswood, TX


Jacqueline (Jackie Hempel) Arbegust passed away on December 16, 2021. She was born over one hundred years ago, on July 14, 1921, to Beatrice and Fred E. Hempel in Galveston. Proud to be “Born and Raised on the Island (BOI)”, she was a member of the Class of 38 at Ball High School and graduated with a degree in physical education from the University of Texas-Austin in 1944. Jackie a still credited Houston dance teacher Camille Long Hill with helping her complete her college education by working as a dance assistant in her famous studio. After Jackie’s wedding she continued to dance with Camille and was even in a Houston production dancing with a youngster named Tommy Tune.

Jackie began her life dancing, teaching and performing at the age of seven when she enrolled in a dance school on the island. She blossomed into a competent dancer and enjoyed performing at the Grand Opera of 1894. After the end of World War II, Jackie joined the New York Rockettes and performed with the USO at various military camps in Italy and Italy. Germany. In 1948, she married Edwin R. Arbegust and had a child, Sylvia Lynn. They had good years living in Texas City. After the death of her husband, Jackie moved to Friendswood and continued to live many happy years in Village on the Park before moving to Morada Senior Living, where she enjoyed her last days.

His lifelong philosophy has been “I was fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time.” Throughout her 100 years, she has embraced all new and exciting opportunities to teach physical activity and be active. Jackie has taught physical education at both Heights Elementary and Our Lady of Fatima in Texas City. She also taught physical education at the Ursuline Academy on the island when her daughter was a student. Later in life, Jackie was a beloved senior fitness, dance and water aerobics teacher at the College of the Mainland. Gardening was one of her passions and she became a Master Gardener. Jackie volunteered many Thursdays with her brother, Slim, at Moody Gardens rooting cuttings of the island’s beautiful oleander and other native species. She was a life member of the International Oleander Society. When Jackie finally sat down, it was to cheer on her Houston Astros at the Astrodome and Minute Maid Park whenever she had the chance. Jackie took tai chi, line dancing, and yoga classes until she was 90.

Jackie was killed by her parents, Fred E. and Beatrice Hempel; brother, Fred E. (Slim) Hempel, Jr., and his wife Dorothy (Willie).

She is survived by her daughter, Sylvia Prendergast and her husband Charles of Friendswood; granddaughter, Alice Prendergast Lowrey and great grandchildren: Ian, Ross and Jacqueline Lowrey of Pearland; many beloved nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.

A Memorial Mass will be held at Mary Queen Catholic Church, 606 Cedarwood Dr., Friendswood on January 4, 2021 at 10:30 a.m.

Instead of flowers or gifts, Jackie wrote many years ago that after her passing she wished “a flowering bush or a majestic tree” to be planted in her memory.

Published by Observer Group from December 29 to 30, 2021.


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