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Obituary for Jessica El Bechir

Born in Baton Rouge, LA January 28, 1982, Jessica passed away on Sunday, March 26, 2017, while
vacationing in northern Vietnam. Jessica Dawn was a Human Resources Officer for the United States Embassy in Rangoon, Myanmar. Raised in St. Francisville, Louisiana, Jessica was the salutatorian with the year 2000 graduating class of West Feliciana High School. She then went on to obtain her bachelor’s degree in business
administration with concentrations in international business and management and a minor in foreign
language (French) from the University of Richmond in Virginia. While a student she studied abroad in
Dublin, Ireland and La Rochelle, France. She then continued her passion for travel and foreign language
by volunteering for a two-year posting with the United States Peace Corps in Mauritania, Africa. During
this time, Jessica supported small business development and a high school girl’s mentoring center, which
convinced her she had found her vocation. Once back in the states, Jessica settled in Washington D.C.
and went on to pursue her goal of an international career, landing jobs with the International Crisis
Group and the American Public Transportation Association before ultimately obtaining her dream job
with the Foreign Service. Jessica served as a Foreign Service Officer with the United States Department
of State for over seven years. This included posts as the Sudan Desk Officer during the time Sudan
became an independent country; as a Consular Officer and Assistant General Services Officer in Seoul,
South Korea; and finally, as the Head of Human Resources in Rangoon, Myanmar. A recipient of the
Department’s Meritorious Honor Award and Franklin Award. Embassy Rangoon said “Jess personified
innovation and customer service in human resources, always using her talents to find a way to support
employees, improve the Mission and deliver results.” In 2016, she was nominated for the Luther I.
Replogle Award for management improvement for her outstanding work coordinating Embassy
Rangoon’s first training and orientation week and for her tireless and creative efforts to develop a
multi-faceted at post training program for LE staff. She was nominated for the Department’s Superior
Honor Award earlier this month in recognition of her outstanding work at Embassy Rangoon over the
past 3 years. She was a proud United States diplomat and made an impact across the world through her
work helping others.
Jess loved to travel the world, but her greatest adventure was her daughter, Giselle Aziza El Bechir (age
10), with whom she was able to share her many journeys and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. This
mother-daughter duo took every advantage of their opportunities and explored all corners of the world
their escapades led them.
Jess was well-known by those who knew and loved her for an extreme drive to succeed and a relentless
ambition. Despite her very dry humor, raw sarcasm, (sometimes brutal) honesty, and a healthy liberal
outlook, she was loved and cherished by all who knew her. As an only child, Jess took full advantage of
the privileges and opportunities that were placed in her path by those who surrounded her with
encouragement. An atypical only child, she was determined to be her own person and make her own
way. It was her high intelligence, tremendous desire for knowledge, and urge for constant change that
set her apart and allowed her to reach her goals.
Though fiercely independent and highly-selective in her personal relationships, Jessica made close
friends across the United States and abroad, a fact that gave her loved ones back home a sense of
peace. This network of acquired family provided Jessica and Giselle the support they needed wherever
they landed. For that, her family is forever grateful.
With her fiery locks and quick tongue, she could not deny her Irish roots. Her high sense of fashion and
etiquette were a nod to her French and English ancestors. And despite her best efforts, she could not
deny her South Louisiana base, to which she returned with her daughter as often as possible. In coming
home this way she showed Giselle that no matter where you go or what you do, there is one thing more
important than all the rest – family .
Please keep the family and loved ones in your thoughts and prayers as we send Jess on her grandest
adventure yet.
She is survived by her daughter Giselle, her parents Willis and Suzette Daniel, grandfather Jack Donnelly
“Pop”, great-grandmother Ruby Weeks Stephens “MawMaw Ruby” and many treasured aunts, uncles,
cousins, as well as the bevy of friends she made through her travels.
Preceded in death by Moustapha El Bechir, grandparents Sue Donnelly “Nana” , Boss and Mildred
Daniel “MawMaw Boss”, John “Grandpop” and Lillian Donnelly, Roy Weeks and loved ones that went
way too early, Kurt, Kyle, Jason, Vickie, Harry, Susan, Carol, Gene and so many more.
Visitation is on Friday, April 7 th from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Jackson Hall, Grace Episcopal Church, St.
Francisville, LA. Visitation resumes Saturday, April 8 th at 10:00 a.m. until service at 11:00 a.m. followed
by a reception in Jackson Hall. A Celebration of Life will be held at the home of her parents beginning at
4:00 p.m. All are welcome and please bring your children. A gift of life will be presented to all guests to
ensure Jess’ legacy continues its travels with all.
In response to the urging of friends and colleagues worldwide, a PayPal account has been established in
Jessica’s memory for Giselle. Funds received will be placed in a Trust. Funds can be emailed to the
JessicaAndGiselleFund@gmail.com.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Grace Episcopal Children’s Fund at Grace Church of
West Feliciana Parish at P.O. Box 28 St. Francisville, LA 70775, as well as the U.S Peace Corps at 1111
20th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20526.
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