Jennifer Lynn Topp
This is not an ordinary obituary, because there was nothing ordinary about Jennifer Lynn Topp. In fact, she was an extraordinary daughter, sister and friend, and loved by everyone who was lucky enough to know her.
Jennifer was proud to be born in Dallas, Texas, and she loved the Cowboys – whether they won or lost. This “yellow rose of Texas” came into the world on September 12, 1973, to the joy of her parents, John and Darlene. She was diagnosed at birth with Down syndrome, and they were determined that she would be treated normally in every way possible and given every opportunity to succeed.
Jennifer was enrolled in the Richardson ISD pilot program for Early Childhood Intervention when she was six weeks old. During her junior and senior high school years, she did Co-Op at Dupree’s Pet Shop, Harlingen Day Nursery, the Harlingen Chamber of Commerce, Wendy’s Hamburgers, and the Harlingen Police Department. She graduated as a Cardinal from Harlingen High School in 1994, where she was proud to participate on the swim team, thanks to Coach Dan Brandon. After graduation, she worked her first paying job at Valley Transit Bus Company with Bobby Farris and his team. In 1996, she asked John Graves, the owner of Big John’s BBQ, for a job, and he hired her! She loved her job, and was a hostess there for 15 years, always checking with the patrons: “Your food good?”
A proud and active member of First United Methodist Church-Harlingen, Jennifer volunteered with Vacation Bible School, Pumpkin Patch, Backpack and Angel Tree Ministry. Her church family was important to her, especially her “hero,” Steve Robinson. She loved swaying to the Christian contemporary music with Michael McCallum. When attending traditional worship, she belted out the hymns, in tune or not, often making notes on the bulletin or in her Bible. She lived a Christian life of love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Well, patience and self-control were sometimes questionable!
Jennifer was well-known at the Harlingen Country Club because of her outgoing and friendly personality. She loved to greet the members, especially the guys, with a hug, and especially looked forward to meeting “The Group” for dinner, and dancing with her partners: Garnet Causey, Dr. Bill McKenna, Donna Millon, Terry Garver, Aaron Rodriguez, and her Austin “buddy,” Stormy Johnson.
Jennifer was a light to her family, friends and community, and the amount of joy and love she provided to the people in her life is immeasurable. Even though she had over 20 surgeries, she remained compassionate, courageous, helpful, independent, productive, sensitive, thoughtful, and unpretentious. She could also be a little grumpy and bossy. Oh, and sassy, too!
She diligently collected tabs from cans to donate to the Ronald McDonald House in Harlingen, and she was proud to receive personal letters of thanks from the organization. She gave great hugs, and loved sharing recipes that she copied from cookbooks and magazines with friends and family, as well as giving them her meticulous artwork. She also loved dancing to country music and eating carbs.
Jennifer died unexpectedly at Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX on Saturday, July 14th, 2018. Rather than this being a sad “day of death,” she once again became a hero by donating her organs as well as giving her body to research and education at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston McGovern Medical School.
Jennifer is survived by her parents, John and Darlene Lightsey Topp; her siblings and their spouses, Summer and Rob Kaylor, (Austin,TX) and Richard and Melissa Topp (Round Rock, TX); her nieces, Autumn Lynn Kaylor and Kayden Shelby Topp; her nephews, Jonathon David Hardy and Bryson Jase Topp; her paternal grandmother, Marian Topp (Harlingen); her great-aunts, Juanita MacPherson (Harlingen) and Ann Choate (Lufkin, TX); her uncle Robert Topp and aunt Leslie Shaunty (Houston); her uncle, Merle Krummel (Iowa City, IA); her companions, Sheree Koepke and Esther de la Garza; ”The Group,” Dr. Brett Tice, Melissa Tice and their children, Taylor, Breyer, and Mason, and Drs. Daniel and Sally Villarreal and their children, Sarah, Monica, and Eva; numerous cousins; and hundreds of friends.
The family expresses sincere gratitude to the medical professionals for their assistance: Dr. Todd Shenkenberg, Sharon Wohler, R.N., the entire staff at Rio Grande Valley Oncolgy, Dr. Emmanuel Akinyemi, Dr. Vijian Dhevan, Dr. Nolan Perez, Dr. James Castillo, Dr. Carlos Barba, Dr. Adolfo Rama, Dr. Stephanie Jackson, and the 4th floor nurses and staff at Valley Baptist Hospital. Jennifer’s life was because of all of their loving care.
Our sweet Jennifer has been welcomed with loving arms by Grandpa Lester E. Topp, Pappy and Granny (Horace Hardy and Alma Lightsey), and a bark and a meow from her faithful Yellow Lab, Bud, and her feline, Oreo!
In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer a donation to the Jennifer Topp Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 602 Harlingen, TX 78551-0602.
A gathering for friends and family will be held Friday, July 20th, from 5 – 7 p. m. at Buck Ashcraft Funeral Home, 710 Ed Carey Drive, Harlingen. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 21st, at First United Methodist Church, 321 E. Harrison, Harlingen.
Those attending either event are encouraged to bring a jar of peanut butter to support Backpack Ministry in honor of Jennifer.
Jennifer Topp Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 602, Harlingen TX 78551-0602