Salute to life ‘well lived’

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL -

A trea­sured link to an­other time was sev­ered for me this week with the pass­ing of Roberta Way-Clark/Jef­fer­son.

Roberta was born in Sydney Mines in 1921 to Robert Way and Agnes Liv­ing­stone and she would tell me sto­ries of how her fa­ther Robert (who was a brother to my grand­fa­ther For­man Way) left school at age 11 to work in the mines.

Robert was caught in a rock fall and had his leg amputated. He re­turned to school to be­come a pay­roll ac­coun­tant for the same coal com­pany and one of his du­ties was to hand de­liver pay en­velopes to coal min­ers through­out the dis­trict by horse and wagon.

Both Robert and For­man ex­pe­ri­enced first­hand the hard­ships in the coal mines and steel plant, child labour, con­stant in­jury and death, de­plorable work­ing con­di­tions, low wages and long hours.

This caused both men to be­come po­lit­i­cally ac­tive. Robert ran twice in fed­eral cam­paigns for the CCF party and For­man was elected as an MLA in a group that be­came the first elected La­bor MLAs in Nova Sco­tia history.

Roberta also talked about her mother who was mar­ried twice and she laughs when she says her mother was the first woman in Boularderi­e to get a di­vorce. She says the news­pa­per even printed a head­line: ‘Boularderi­e Woman Gets Di­vorce!’

But Roberta be­came an in­spi­ra­tion in her own right. Af­ter her hus­band (Roland Clark) died she en­tered univer­sity at age 60, got her Bach­e­lor’s de­gree and then her Mas­ters from Mount St. Vin­cent in Hal­i­fax where she taught for many years.

She started pro­grams that led to the found­ing of the Fam­ily Care­givers As­so­ci­a­tion of Nova Sco­tia, hosted a weekly Ca­ble­vi­sion show called Se­niors In Ac­tion and sat on two na­tional boards – Na­tional Crime Preven­tion Coun­cil and Na­tional Fo­rum on Health Care.

Roberta re­ceived an hon­orary Doc­tor of Hu­man Let­ters from MSVU in 1994. She main­tained her in­tel­li­gence through­out her se­nior years and her re­mark­able mem­ory.

An­other big event, which showed how she never stopped en­joy­ing life and ac­com­plished so much later in life, occurred when she got mar­ried again at age 88 in her se­niors com­plex. She en­joyed that re­la­tion­ship to the end at age 94.

As vale­dic­to­rian from Sydney Mines High School she said: “May it be said that our lives have been in­vested in a grand and dar­ing ven­ture for free­dom and truth, and that with un­afraid hearts we have met and over­come the prob­lems of life.”

To Roberta, a live well lived.

Colin Waye Sydney

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