She was described as a mother, sister, person of faith, a true Perry Countian and the ultimate Elvis Presley fan. For many, she was someone who left this world much too soon.
Jackie Wengert, touted as a lover of all people and most of all her community, died suddenly March 2 at the age of 63.
Wengert served as the Perryville Area Chamber of Commerce’s executive director from 1999-2005. When the position became available again in 2018, and she jumped at the chance to lead the Chamber for a second time.
“I loved working for the Chamber,” Wengert said before she eventually retired in June 2022. “To be honest, I was working out of town back then and the work was in a cubicle in an office and I just missed the people. I missed communicating with the businesses and I was at one of those times in my life when I felt like I would love to get back with the Chamber again.
“In some ways, it was like I had never left. “Most of the business owners were the same, so that made me feel more comfortable with stepping right back in and picking up where I left off.”
Wengert implemented several new events such as Power Hour — a spin-off of another event —and kept building on the existing infrastructure that was already in place.
“One of the best things about chambers is that when you get something that works, don’t try to fix it,” Wengert said. “Things like Mayfest, as long as you have everything in order, not even rain can mess it up.”
Wengert, who also served as the president of the Perry County Extension Council, was born Oct. 5, 1959 in Perryville to Walter Sr. and Francis (Unterreiner) Kutz. She married Steve Wengert on Sept. 7, 1991, at Christ the Savior Catholic Church in Brewer, where she was a member of the Blessed Sacrament Ladies Sodality, a parish council member, and served on the cemetery board.
Survivors include her husband; a son, Curt (Rebecca) Pecaut of Perryville; two daughters, Dawn (Chad) Ozark of Perryville and Lisa Marie (Daniel) Joyce of San Diego, Calif.; two brothers, Walter (Linda) Kutz Jr. of Perryville and Joe (Kim Schulte) Kutz of Perryville; two sisters, Joan (Harry) McKinney of Springfield, Ill., and Jean (Larry) Smith of Bonne Terre; six grandchildren — McKayla Pecaut, Grace Ozark, Jack Ozark, McKenzie Pecaut, Lily Ozark, Isabella Pecaut — granddogs Tina & Stella, and numerous nephews, nieces, godchildren and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents and two sisters, Joyce Hotop and Kathy Wilkerson.
According to those who knew her best, Wengert always enjoyed her time giving back to the community and the many lives she touched.
“Jackie spent her time at the Chamber always giving back, working hard, and doing whatever it took to make the community shine,” reads a post on the official Chamber of Commerce Facebook page. “Jackie believed in giving back to her community and encouraged others to do the same. She enjoyed telling visitors of the office just how amazing our small community was and how Perryville had the best stores, churches, restaurants, historic places, etc. Jackie was a fountain of knowledge when it came to the history of Perry County and had immense pride for our community. She enjoyed working with others to plan events, such as the Mayfest. It brought her joy to bring others joy. There was a lot to be learned from her and she has forever left a stamp on this community as a great servant.”
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