On Monday, May 15, Jennifer Wiley, a local real estate agent and young mother, passed away after a horseback riding incident. She left behind a young daughter and a community stricken by grief at the sudden loss. In an effort to support the Wiley family, who have been well-known in the Milford community for many years, the community came together at a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, May 17 at the Milford Public Library Amphitheater.
Jennifer was one of three daughters born to Joe, a local businessman, and Renate Wiley, a school nurse at Milford High School before retirement and the current President of Milford School District Board of Education. According to her family, Jen was born on March 1, 1980 during a snowstorm. Her family said she was passionate about horseback riding with her daughter, Eva, and her niece, Emma as well as spending time with her family and friends. They said she was very creative who enjoyed hands-on activities. She was known as the decorator and planner of the family, always giving “her two cents.” She put her daughter first in everything she did and was known as the “cool aunt” and the “cool mom.” Jennifer spent almost every evening with her parents and daughter, sharing dinner with them.
Her mother, Renate, spoke at the candlelight vigil, speaking of the decision the family had to make regarding organ donation after Jennifer’s accident. Jennifer was an organ donor and had made those wishes known to her family. “As her parents, that was a really difficult decision to do that, but we wanted to honor Jennifer’s wishes to do that,” Ms. Wiley said. “We are blessed to have two other daughters and son-in-law’s, and, as a family, we have been united and very strong. We wanted to make sure we carried out the wishes of Jennifer. Because of her unselfishness and her willingness to do for others, which was Jennifer, there were at least eight people who received organs from her. She had two kidneys, her liver, her lungs, skin and bone that went to others as well as her heart. Jennifer will continue to live on in that way, too. Even though we are grieving tonight, there are at least eight other families who are rejoicing for the gift that she gave. If you are not an organ donor, I would encourage you to really think about it because it is a wonderful gift. That is comfort to us, also.”
Jennifer joined the Masten Realty agency in 2015 after taking a short break from real estate after the birth of her daughter. She graduated from Milford High School in 1998 and attended Delaware Technical and Community College, studying architectural design before transferring to the University of Maryland. While attending college in Maryland, Jennifer worked at a local REMAX office on a part-time basis under the real estate agent who handled the sale of the house her parents bought for her to live in while she attended college. She found she enjoyed the work and earned her Maryland real estate license in 2001.
“Jen and I were in real estate together,” said Shirley Renzi. “She was so brilliant. There was nothing she didn’t tackle that she didn’t know how to do it and the best way to do it, so organized. She was just the most wonderful young lady. I got to know her and love her and Eva and her wonderful family, even though I have known Joe for a long time. These are great people and I am thankful to come here and honor her. She was a great gal and we are certainly going to miss her. Thank you for coming here and showing her respect. I love this town and I love the people in it. We must do our best without her and I know it is going to be hard.”
Always family-oriented, Jennifer moved back to Delaware because her sister was expecting her first child. In an effort to establish a more consistent income, Jennifer returned to school, becoming an LPN and then an RN. She enjoyed nursing but found that real estate was in her blood, returning to the field at ERA Harrington Realty where she worked closely with Ms. Renzi before leaving to have her daughter.
In addition to the candlelight vigil, Masten Realty has set up a GoFundMe in order to create a college fund for Jennifer’s seven-year-old daughter who is a student at Lulu M. Ross Elementary School. Wes Cromer of Masten Realty, who created the GoFundMe, said Jennifer worked hard to support herself and Eva.“Everything Jen did was for Eva. Eva is a brilliant little girl and will be something special someday,” Mr. Cromer said. “I know we can reach our goal with all the love and support the community has shown for the Wiley family.” To date, the GoFundMe has raised $21,355 of a $50,000 goal.
TADA Dance Studio, where Eva took dance classes, will also hold a fund raiser at their recital on June 3rd. The studio is asking for donations for a silent auction in order to contribute to Eva’s college fund.
“This precious little ballerina, Eva, is one of the smallest but most important members of our TADA dance family,” Sandy Soucek, who handles publicity for the studio, posted on her Facebook page. “She is also the daughter of one of heaven’s newest angel, the sweet Jennifer Wiley. Our dance family is devastated by the loss of the of the most genuinely warm and caring mothers we have had the pleasure to know. We would like to take Eva into our arms and make this all go away, but that will not happen. It is painful to sit and feel helpless. We NEED to help.” In addition to items for the silent auction, TADA will also be accepting cash donations that will go directly into the college fund being established for Eva’s college expenses.
Anyone who wishes to donate to the GoFundMe can find it online at https://www.gofundme.com/eva-college-fund. Those who wish to donate cash or items for the silent auction can send private messages on Facebook to Ms. Soucek or the TADA Director, Aimee Voshell String. Tickets for the recital can be purchased for $15 for minimum reserved seats or $10 for adult general seating. Student and child tickets are $5. All tickets can be purchased at http://www.tututix.com/tadaballet.
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