Presented by Mary Collins at the 2019 AMSF AGM
We remember today Jeanne Wolfe, whom many of us knew as not only an AMSF member, but also as the sister of – to us mish-kids – Aunt Edith Radley, who as you know served most of her career in Angola.
Taking the first part from her obituary: Jeanne died in her 98th year – on February 4, 2019, one day after her 97th birthday. Raised in Manitoba, she arrived in Ottawa in 1942 to be part of the war effort. Here, she met her future husband, her beloved Paul Wolfe, and they were married in 1946. They enjoyed raising their four children together, but Jeanne was widowed in 1969, and carried on as a single mom. She also held several jobs outside the home, including in the federal Public Service, at Glebe-St. James United Church, at Lady Evelyn Alternative School, and at Glebe Centre/Abbotsford House. She was devoted to her family, and to her many well-loved friends of all ages and from all walks of life. Jeanne was an especially kind, caring, patient, loving and wise person.
Well, those of us who knew her, certainly did know her as that: kind, caring, patient, loving and wise.
I don’t know when Jeanne became a member of the AMSF, but she was regional rep for the Ottawa area for many years, having taken over from my mother after my mother died in 1994. Then when Jeanne felt she was too old to continue in that role, she asked if I would take over her list, and I did. And I continued to keep in touch with her, phoning periodically from Toronto, and visiting her in her home at least once; on that occasion Miriam (Ferguson) Boal and her husband Dave and I enjoyed tea with Jeanne, at Jeanne’s invitation. And Jeanne kept track of my sister Lois and husband Ron, and was so sorry when first Lois and then Ron died. She told me she often remembered seeing the two of them, in their youth, in a coffee shop, dark heads bent together. She and my mother were good friends, sharing some of the same activities.
As I mentioned at the beginning, Jeanne was the sister of Aunt Edith Radley – and her speaking voice and laugh were identical to Aunt Edith’s! In fact, one time when I phoned her from Toronto, my mind was wandering vaguely while the phone rang, and when she picked up I said “Hi Aunt Edith…” and before I had time to identify myself, she replied “I’m not Aunt Edith, and hi Mary!” and we had a good laugh.
And I can’t resist adding a further personal note. My mother forever loved telling the story, which always gave her a good laugh, of us visiting Jeanne and her family in Ottawa on one of our furloughs. Jeanne’s kids were still little, and her son Radley of course fell totally under the spell of my mother’s riveting story-telling. At the end of the evening, when my mother said, “Well, we must go home now,” Radley said “Oh no! Can’t you stay the night with us?” “Well,” my mother answered gravely, “you’ll have to ask Mr. Collins if I can stay.” So Radley went over to my Dad and asked him “Can your mother stay the night at our house?” My mother got the biggest kick out of that.
I know that Jeanne and at least one of her sisters visited Aunt Edith when she was working in Zaire, after being booted out of Angola, and she treasured those memories. Being part of the AMSF was an important part of her life. Interestingly, the obituary did not mention her work with the AMSF, but it did invite memoriam donations to the AMSF as well as to two other places.
Her memorial service was held April 27 at Glebe-St. James UC in Ottawa, and I attended together with Miriam and Dave Boal. We remember with gratitude the life of Jeanne Wolfe.