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MARJORIE "JEAN" RICHARDS

MARJORIE "JEAN" RICHARDS 1922 - 2012 Jean, daughter of James and Esther Dawson, was born in England in 1922. She was a star student and runner. During World War II, she met her future husband at a dance. Fred "Joe" Richards was an RCAF Spitfire pilot stationed at Sutton Bridge. They were married for more than 60 years, weathering the trauma and scars of war together. In 1945, a heavily pregnant Jean learned in a telegram that Joe's plane had been shot down over Nazi- occupied Holland. Devastated, she gave birth soon after to a son she named Fred. Miraculously, Joe survived the plane crash, eventually escaped and was reunited with Jean. She immigrated to Ontario via steamship. It was a difficult journey, caring for babies Sandy and Fred and washing countless cloth diapers. Once in Canada, her life was defined by - but not limited to - her domestic world. She kept a meticulous home and masterful garden, though the latter caused her no end of torment. It was not unheard of to be speaking with "Nanny" over the phone, only to hear the receiver drop, a door open and shouts of "Get out of there!" ring out. No ceasefire existed for the squirrels that dug up her bulbs. Jean's personality could be best captured in her many recipes - sweet mincemeat tarts, homemade pickles, tangy lemon squares and traditional lamb with mint sauce. Her door did not open without a tray of baking to greet us. Throughout her life, she retained her British accent and cutting wit. She once asked a cashier if her coffee shop "heated bricks," referring to the stale muffin she'd had the misfortune of choosing. Jean was a funny, loving, at times maddening matriarch; a born trickster who hid plastic praying mantises in her grandchildren's beds and told family ghost stories that caught our breath. She died peacefully on December 15, 2012. We are comforted that she has rejoined Joe, her love. And you said we'd never be parted/When we grow old/ And you said I'll see you in heaven/When we grow old Donations to The War Amps (waramps.ca) preferred. Contact sarah_richards@hotmail.com for memorial information.


Published in the Toronto Star on Jan. 5, 2013
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