The Obit For Jean Cione

Jean Cione

Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on November 28, 2010

Jean S. Cione died peacefully on Nov. 22, 2010, in Bozeman, surrounded by loved ones. She will be greatly missed by her partner, Ginny Hunt, her sister, Linda Gillespie, two nieces, a nephew, and five grandnieces and nephews. Ginny's sister, Nan (Rex) Ryden, brother, Pete Hunt (Nancy Noyer), sister-in-law, Angela Hunt, 10 nieces and nephews, and 13 grandnieces and nephews will miss her deeply, as well as Jean's many friends.

Born in Rockford, Ill., on June 23, 1928, to Vi and John Cione (both deceased), Jean attended Rockford public schools through grade 12. As a high school junior, she tried out for, and was selected to play for the All American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), made famous by the movie, A League of Their Own (1992). One year, she attended spring training in Havana, Cuba, an experience that greatly impressed her and inspired her love of travel.

Jean went down in history as one of the top pitchers in the AAGPBL, pitching for four different clubs including the famous Rockford Peaches. In her rookie season of 1947, Cione won 19 ballgames for the Peaches while posting a stingy 1.30 ERA in 37 games. Three years later with the Kenosha Comets, the southpaw picked up 18 wins while throwing two no-hitters.
In an 8-year career, "Cy" Cione, wound up with a record of 76-65 to go with a 2.33 ERA in an even 1,200 innings. In 1952, Cione appeared in the All-Star Game and also helped the Comets to the league championship.

In 1988, the League and all 600 players were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Jean served on the AAGPBL Players Association Board of Directors as vice president and website liaison.

During the off-season of her 10 years playing professional baseball, Jean attained her Bachelor of Science degree in education from Eastern Michigan University (EMU). Later, she earned a Master of Science degree from the University of Illinois, and pursued post-MS work at the University of Michigan. Jean taught at the high school level for 10 years, then became Professor Cione at her alma mater, EMU, where she taught for 29 yrs.

Jean served as EMU's first women's athletic director, and established a Women's Athletic Program (WAP) for gender equity to comply with the federal regulations outlined in Title IX. After she accomplished this historic transition at EMU, she returned to her first love, teaching sports medicine. In 1985, Prof. Cione was inducted into the Eastern Michigan University Athletic Hall of Fame in recognition of her achievements and contributions to establishing the WAP. Upon her square shoulders had rested the responsibility for teaching college women about the responsibilities of gender equity. A favorite story she told was about students inquiring as to their exam results with the plea, "But don't I get partial credit for my answer?" Jean's simple reply was, "There is no such thing as partial credit."

Prof. Cione retired in 1992. She enjoyed visiting her family and friends, and continued her love of the outdoors by cycling and playing golf. She was a member at Valley View Golf Club, where she loved both the course and her friends.

Jean was a voracious reader and an avid fan of watching sports on TV, especially her beloved Chicago Cubs. She kept up with current affairs, a fact known to all who shared the pleasure of her conversation. Jean had a grand stature, a wonderful sense of humor and a soft heart for Lucky, the golden retriever, and her cats Gus and OskarAnne.

In 2007, Jean was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony held in Chicago IL.

A memorial service will be held at 9 a.m. on Dec. 4 at St. James Episcopal Church, 5 W. Olive St. in Bozeman. A post-game celebration of Jean's life will beheld at 4:30 p.m. at Valley View Golf Club. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be sent to: Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter, or Central Asia Institute, both of Bozeman. Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.