On Tuesday 16 February 2010 Jean Freeman died in Campbell River hospital in her 97th year supported by her daughter Anne Ferguson (Cortes Island) with whom she had been visiting for almost eighteen months, and her daughter Linda Freeman (Ottawa).
Her heart remained in Lavington in the valley where she married orchardist Michael Freeman and lived for over seventy years. Mum kept the books, grew and preserved the farm’s produce, made trips to Vernon to the ‘locker’ to freeze some, drove to pick up and return farm employees to their homes in White Valley, and was involved in Lavington community projects. She was an active founding member of the Lavington Work Group with June Osborn (now 98) and a Vernon group known to them as the Hen Club, associations which had started in the 1940s. She was an avid gardener, cook, needlewoman, reader, and concert and theatre goer. Her deep interest in the history of the valley made her a valued resource in the community and a fierce conservator of water.
While Mum and Dad lived on the farm – until 1968 when they moved to her present home – many people arrived to work, to live and later returned to visit. Truus van Eck – now MacInnes – and her family, grew up with us and has supported Mum since the early 1980s as did many friends and youngsters who learned her demanding gardening techniques.
Jean Lowdon Darling was born ‘on the banks of the Bow’ in Calgary on 7 April 1913. She and her brother, Bill, moved with her once Scottish parents to Salmon Arm and went to an early school at South Canoe. Later they moved to Revelstoke to build Revelstoke Nursery and there Mum completed school and became an early Revelstoke Snow Queen. Mum travelled to Vancouver to attend Sprott Shaw College and later to Vernon where she worked for Cossett & Spire and boarded with Mrs. English. She joined the ski club and met Dad when he dropped a plank on her while building the new ski cabin! Her beloved brother Bill was subsequently killed during World War II in Moose Jaw when training as a pilot.
Mum will be remembered for her great warmth and charm, her delight in people of all ages and walks of life, and for her ardent pursuit of everything that interested her. She maintained a wide correspondence until she left Lavington in 2008.
Her home was open to her beloved children, grandchildren – Andrew (Kelly) Ferguson, Jonny (Chantel Gemmell) Ferguson and Nicki (Jesse) Blake and her great-granchildren Daemion, James, Claire, Kayla and Zoe who miss their self-described ‘tough grannie’.
Her many friends are invited to join her family at a memorial tea at her home at 9748 Springfield Road, Lavington; phone (250 545 2654) on a date to be announced.