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 Woodmere couple managed real estate properties, died days apart from coronavirus

Jake Passmore and Dessie Murph-Passmore

Jake Passmore and Dessie Murph-Passmore "always had time" for family. They died within days of each other of the coronavirus. Credit: Passmore Family

Jake Passmore and Dessie Murph-Passmore were always on the go managing their real estate properties, working full-time jobs or traveling. 

But despite their busy lifestyles, the Woodmere couple always had time for family. 

“They were involved in so many things, but they always had time for me and my brother,” said their daughter Delores Passmore of Rosedale. “At one point, my mother worked the night shift and my father would be there after school and help with homework and dinner. But they worked so seamlessly that it was like they were always both there.”

Jake, 81, died on April 7 at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, and Dessie, 87, followed on April 10 at home. Married over 60 years, they both died of complications from COVID-19.

The couple grew up in the South — Jake in Georgia and Dessie in South Carolina — and moved to New York for better job opportunities. While Jake was staying with family, his cousin introduced him to her friend Dessie and the two fell in love. 

After their marriage in 1959, they purchased a three-family home on Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, the beginning of their real estate ventures. Over the years, they owned six properties, acting as owners and landlords. But they were more than just rent collectors. 

“They were also involved in people’s personal lives,” said Delores Passmore. “They knew their children and grandchildren and they knew what the different tenants were going through and would assist them as they could. They helped a lot of people get their starts before buying their own houses.”

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While ensuring their tenants’ needs were met, the Passmores also worked full-time jobs. Dessie was an information agent for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, while Jake worked as a foreman in a factory in Brooklyn for over 30 years. He also took side jobs as a general contractor and painter. 

“He became part of their families,” said Delores Passmore. “Even as he got older, he would do little paint jobs. Even though he wasn’t doing the same level of work, they would call him because it was like calling an uncle or a brother and you knew you were going to get a quality job and he knew their family, their children, their grandchildren.”

After Dessie retired, she got a degree in ministry from the New York Theological Seminary and started the senior outreach ministry at the Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn. 

“She saw the need in the church,” said son Craig Passmore of Lawrence. “The population the church catered to was changing, the demographics were getting a lot older. She wanted to make sure these elderly members were still able to receive the word and educate and inform them of their rights as elderly citizens as far as health care, Social Security, Medicare benefits, and final planning.”

When they had time off, Dessie enjoyed traveling to Europe, while her husband preferred road trips and bluefishing. But the two had one free-time activity in common: spending time with their granddaughter and Delores Passmore’s daughter, Christina Crosby, of the Bronx. By the age of 5, Christina, now 30, had learned to call her grandfather to pick her up when she was bored and was deemed Dessie’s “road buddy” for trips down South. 

“What I most admire about their family, they were a very close-knit family,” said family friend Brent Hill of Lawrence. “They would spend every holiday together, vacation together as adults, and call each other on the phone everyday. They were like a team.”

An internment was held in South Carolina and the family hopes to hold a memorial service next year. 

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