E. S. (Shirley) Jefferson Rowbotham (nee LePage)
March 3, 1923 – March 1, 2013
An energetic and visionary woman, Shirley died peacefully just two days before her 90th birthday in Vernon, BC.
Raised in a family of seven children on a farm in rural Quebec, Shirley understood the value of community, cooperation and hard work. Learning the lessons of living in a Protestant family in a Catholic community, Shirley took on challenges with a fearless determination and a Joie de Vivre which touched all who knew her.
During her early years, she was one of the first women to drive a commercial delivery vehicle in Quebec City, in the evenings she sang with Georges Amyot’s Big Band Orchestra and on alternate days, she modeled clothing.
Leaving Quebec to expand her options, she enjoyed great success as a TV and radio personality in Victoria, BC, including guiding little ‘do-bees’ as Miss Shirley on the live TV children’s program Romper Room, providing hints for the home during the Noon Show or doing interviews on the street for CKDA radio.
Retiring to the Okanagan in the mid 1970s, Shirley spent many years as a dedicated volunteer in Osoyoos, BC and was a very successful fundraiser for projects including the South Okanagan Hospital and her pet project, transforming an area of roadside rubble into the stunning Pioneer Walkway in Osoyoos. Shirley was very proud of this project and took special pride in the fact that it only required two meetings to make it happen. The first in 1992 to discuss and develop ideas for the walkway with five other women and the second to plan the grand opening in June 1993.
The walkway project continued to evolve and over the next 15 years, Shirley was on the job weeding, planting flowers, maintaining the tables and benches, hauling out debris and insuring that the walkway would always be a beautiful respite stop for weary travelers. Her vision for the completed walkway included the design and construction of the Millennium Fountain that was built in 2000 and a town clock that was dedicated in 2007. Neither project would have been possible without her ability to raise funds and sell the vision.
Her home in Osoyoos was a social hub and had a door plaque given by friends that read “Osoyoos Activity Centre”. Any party she organized always included lots of great food, great music and laughter accompanied by some pretty amazing cocktails poured generously by her husband John.
Unbeknownst to Shirley, during the dedication of the walkway clock in 2007, the Town of Osoyoos unveiled another plaque that had been installed. It reads….”From smallest to largest undertaking, you were always there to see it through”.
Predeceased by husband John Rowbotham in 2002, she leaves a legacy of love and laughter for her children Parker and his wife Cathi Jefferson; and Michelle Jefferson; her grandchildren Sara and David Bynoe, numerous relatives in Ontario and Quebec and friends all over the world.
Her family would like to thank the staff of 3 North at Vernon Jubilee Hospital and also at Polson Extended Care for the warmth, care and compassion they showed to Shirley in her final months.
Shirley did not want to have a service so in lieu of flowers, drink a few Manhattans, invite some friends over to share a few laughs and good conversation; then go out and do something nice for your community…not necessarily in that order.
Arrangements were in the care of Vernon Funeral Home 250-542-0155.