Jeanne A. (Kozmer) Marszalek was born in South Bend, Indiana and lived most of her early life in Niles, Michigan where she attended elementary and high school. In 1964, she graduated from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, with a degree in elementary education. She taught in the South Bend, Public School System from 1964-1965 at which time she married John F. Marszalek on October 16, 1965. They moved to Fort Holabird, Maryland and Fort Hood, Texas, where he served in U.S. Army Intelligence. When he was sent to Vietnam in 1966, she moved to Buffalo with their then 4 month old child. He began his college teaching career in 1967, and they lived in Erie Pennsylvania from 1968-1973 and in Starkville, Mississippi from 1973 to the present day. They raised three sons and are the grandparents of a grandson and three granddaughters.
During these years, she was a substitute teacher, taught kindergarten (1980-1981), was owner of a home baking business from 1982-1985, and managed a kitchen shop from 1985-1989. Since that time, she has been a research assistant for her author husband.
She has played a major role in Mississippi politics. She began her career as secretary of the Oktibbeha County Democratic Executive Committee from 1989-1992, also becoming a member of the Mississippi State Democratic Executive Committee (1989-2000). She was the founder and first president of the Oktibbeha County Federation of Democratic Women (1990-1992) and has held a variety of offices in the Mississippi State Federation of Democratic Women (1990- ). In 1992 and 1996, she was elected a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions and subsequently played leadership roles in the two local Bill Clinton presidential campaigns. From 1994 to 2002, she wrote a regular column in the quarterly newsletter, the Oktibbeha Democrat. From 1993-1996, she was co-chair of the Starkville Race Relations Team. She was awarded the Unity in the Community Award from the Oktibbeha County NAACP (1996) and the Democrat of the Year Award from the Oktibbeha County Democratic Executive Committee (1998). In 2003, the Mississippi State University College Democrats named her "Honorary Life Member."
While playing a major research role in her husband’s publications, she has also published an article on Marion Anderson in the Historical Dictionary of the 1940s.
She and her husband have established endowed library funds at Mississippi State University and Canisius College. Her papers, gathered in the course of her political career, are deposited in the Mitchell Memorial Library, Mississippi State University.