RE­FLEC­TIVE MO­MENTS Jean Roe con­tin­ued life with “ex­tra years of zest”

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News -

There was no Christ­mas card with a cheery note in­side for Christ­mas 2017 and that should have raised a red flag in our house­hold.

Our friend al­ways con­tacted us once a year and we in turn sent her news of Moose Jaw and the peo­ple she knew and with whom she had worked while she lived in this city. In mid-Septem­ber, on a hunch that had been nag­ging me for sev­eral weeks, I looked up our friend on Google, and to my dis­may, learned that she had passed away in April this year at the age of 95. Then two days later, an item in the Globe and Mail Lives Lived sec­tion re­it­er­ated for me that Jean Scott Roe would not be send­ing us any more Christ­mas let­ters.

Any­one liv­ing in Moose Jaw in the 1970s to the mid1990s ei­ther knew Jean per­son­ally or knew of her. She knew no strangers, only po­ten­tial friends. She was a force to be reck­oned with when she set her mind to get­ting things done.

And her sense of hu­mour was well-known, hav­ing a joke for ev­ery oc­ca­sion, usu­ally pick­ing the theme of her home, New­found­land, and proudly call­ing her­self “a New­fie” even when that name was no longer po­lit­i­cally cor­rect.

Jean was an ad­vo­cate of fe­male-male equal­ity and at one For Moose Jaw Ex­press city coun­cil meet­ing, spoke in favour of male mail car­ri­ers be­ing al­lowed to wear shorts dur­ing their de­liv­ery rounds. I re­call her say­ing if women could wear shorts in pub­lic, the men should be al­lowed the same op­por­tu­nity — and com­mented that men do have nice legs too. I don’t know if Canada Post heeded her words or changed its pol­icy all on its own.

While city coun­cil mem­bers are now called “coun­cil­lors,” in her term with mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment the ti­tle was “al­der­man,” but she con­tin­ued to call her­self “alder­woman.”

When once called the “chair” of a com­mit­tee, she re­sponded in kind with the def­i­ni­tion of a chair — an ob­ject on which to sit— and no one was sit­ting on her.

Jean was ac­tive on the early Canada Week and then Canada Day com­mit­tees, for a time co-or­di­nat­ing the queen con­test and sup­port­ing the many other projects un­der­taken in those early years of the cel­e­bra­tion.

As a mem­ber of the city’s 75th an­niver­sary com­mit­tee, she stood in line with the rest of us to meet Queen El­iz­a­beth, Prince Philip and Prince Ed­ward. We were in pe­riod cos­tume, caus­ing Prince Philip to ad­mire our quaint old clothes.

She is per­haps best known for her work as an or­ga­nizer of the Ex­tra Years of Zest (XYZ) As­so­ci­a­tion, an or­ga­ni­za­tion de­signed to pro­vide healthy and artis­tic ac­tiv­i­ties for se­nior cit­i­zens. The as­so­ci­a­tion was first lo­cated in St. An­drew’s United Church where the on-site day­care was called ABC, a fit­ting route to XYZ. Both chil­dren and se­niors flour­ished in that shared set­ting. Jean and oth­ers were also in­volved in the work of turn­ing the former Ea­ton Depart­ment Store into hous­ing units and a se­niors’ ac­tiv­ity cen­tre with re­tail space fronting Main Street. The XYZ Au­di­to­rium is now part of the ac­tiv­ity com­plex.

The re­cip­i­ent of nu­mer­ous hon­ours, awards and medals for her vol­un­teer work across Canada, a high­light of her vol­un­teerism was be­ing named a Mem­ber of the Or­der of Canada in 1981. She was also named Cit­i­zen of the Year in Moose Jaw.

Jean Scott Roe was born in Bot­wood, Nfld. and grew up in Cor­ner Brook. She mar­ried James Roe in 1954 and the cou­ple moved to many lo­ca­tions in the West be­fore set­tling in Moose Jaw. The cou­ple fol­lowed jour­nal­is­tic paths in those ar­eas with Jean writ­ing for the West­ern Star, Lead­erPost, Swift Cur­rent Sun, Moose Jaw Times-Her­ald and Moose Jaw This Week. James passed away in 1980.

She moved to Bri­tish Columbia in 1993 and con­tin­ued her com­mu­nity vol­un­teer work un­til her pass­ing. Jean is sur­vived by daugh­ters Jen­nifer, El­iz­a­beth, Cather­ine and Char­lotte, eight grand­chil­dren and 12 great grand­chil­dren. She was taken home to New­found­land as her fi­nal rest­ing place.

Rest in peace, Jean. It was our priv­i­lege to have known and worked with you.

Joyce Wal­ter can be reached at ron­joy@sask­tel.net

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