Jean Katherine REYNOLDS

Jean was loved and cherished by family and many friends…

Family: Mary, Bernard, Michael, Tara, Spencer; Carla. Marleen, Tom, Rick, Kari-Anne; Cheryl, Jarrett, Devin, Brooke; Colleen, Ian, Curtis, Terri, Alexandra; Crystal, Nolan. Jack, Heidi, Jeffrey, and Jayden. Brothers: Jack Long, Ray Long (Eirien). Sisters-in-law: Pearl Reynolds, Muriel Peters, Margaret Long. Many nieces and nephews. Predeceased by: Husband: Cecil Warren Reynolds (2003). Parents: John Alvan Long (1952) and Mary Katherine Long (1948). Brothers: Murray (1926), Harry (1966), Ian (Hap) Porter (1974), Art, Frank (1985), Bert (1987). Sisters: Belle (1964), and Molly (1993). Grandson: Ronald Alan Hiebert (1971).

Celebration of Jean Reynolds was held at the First Mennonite Church Saturday, April 12, 2008 at 1:00 p.m. Today we are celebrating the life of a wonderful mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend…

A wonderful Mother, woman and aid

One who was better, God never made.

A wonderful worker, so loyal and true

One in a million – Mother was you.

Just in your judgment with others in mind

Unselfish, giving, honest and kind.

Loved by your friends, all you knew

A wonderful Mother – Mother was you.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory to: Palling Community Club: c/o Box 1536, Burns Lake, BC, V0J 1E0 or Palliative Care Unit, c/o the Burns Lake Health Care Auxiliary, Box 812, Burns Lake, BC, V0J 1E0

A celebration of a strong woman

Jean Katherine Long was born August 5, 1925 in a poplar cabin in Palling, BC. Her parents, John Alvan Long and Mary Katherine (Porter) Long, were a pioneer family who had recently moved to the community with their large family. John Alvan had been a widower with five sons and two daughters, who married Katherine, a widow with one son. They first had Murray in 1923, who died at three, and then Jean in 1925. Raymond Ashford was born in 1931, much to Jean’s delight.

The Longs moved soon after Jean’s birth to their ranch at the base of the Palling cliffs, now known as Jean’s Place. There, they carved out a family life through farming, ranching, logging, and saw-milling. Jean grew up with the hard work of a pioneer farm – milking, gardening, fencing, and riding. The Longs prided themselves on being fine horse people. When my mom (Margaret Seely Long) came to teach at the Long’s house, which was the grandest in the community at the time, Jean showed the new city girl how to ride on her favourite “Wasp”, with mom trailing along on “Fly”. Grandpa John Alvan always had a fast, light team which could match any other in the Burns Lake area. As Auntie Jean, her daughters, my mom, and some grand-daughters reminisced a few weeks ago in her hospital room, she pitched into the conversation with comments and corrections. “The Longs were always good with horses,” she said. “Not me,” I said. “I’d rather walk.” “Hmmmpf,” she said. Those were our last words.

Jean grew up in Palling in the 30’s as a resourceful and hard-working pioneer girl. She was a member of the “Young Rangers”, a youth forest protection group conceived by long-time neighbour and friend, Bill Saunders. This boys and girls group was lead by Eva Neville. Their motto:

This is our forest to defend

Against the fires of thoughtless men.

The 1940’s were difficult for the Long family, as in 1945 their house burned, along with most of their possessions and family records. With Jean’s mother in failing health, they moved south to Laidlaw, where they were victim to the 1948 flood. Jean often told how Ray, at only 17, drove a horse and wagon to safety through the raging waters, towing cows and loaded with chickens and whatever belongings they could save. They were survivors, and they persevered. When Jean returned to the north, she vowed she would never leave again.

Jean waited tables at Parker’s Cafe in Decker Lake. At a dance there, she was swept off her feet by one of the best dancers in the area. Cecil Reynolds, from Fort St. James, had won her heart. They were married September 24, 1949.

Married life began in a sawmill camp at Seven Mile on the Babine Road, where Cecil ran the sawmill and Jean cooked for the crew. In 1950, they purchased their home in Palling, the same property on which Jean was born (the “80”). Jean also bought the Long ranch property in a tax sale. In 1954, with Cecil’s TD 6 and my dad’s D2 pulling, the house was moved from the “80”, up the Palling Road to its present location.

Meanwhile, as if they were not busy enough, daughter Mary was born on July 26, 1950, followed fifteen months later by twins Marleen and Colleen, on Halloween night. New brother Jack came later, on June 26, 1964.

Once operating the farm became full time, Jean spent her days gardening, haying, fencing, and rock picking. Her special time started at 5:00 am, with the day’s milking. This was a time to relax and contemplate. Jean claimed in later years that carpel tunnel problems would never have surfaced if she had kept up the milking (I don’t believe her, but it makes a good story). When the girls got off the bus, there was usually a freshly baked snack before the evening chores. Jean never complained about work. The highlight of the day was when Cecil came home from work.

For the Reynolds, the focus was on the family (and it still is). Recreational time was spent at Palling community square dancing, swimming lessons (after a day’s haying), the Fall Fair, and the Palling Christmas concert.

Great friendships were made as Jean and Cec delivered milk, cream, and eggs to many families in the area. The Palling community was Jean’s extended family. Jean became a member of the Palling Women’s Institute in the mid 1940’s and continued until the organization disbanded in 1998. The Palling community club formed and Jean became an active member. She was a member of the Palling recreation commission for over 50 years. Many enjoyable evenings were spent through the years playing cards with family and friends.

As her daughters married and had their own families, Jean’s house became the focus for regular family gatherings, often on Sundays, when many would share in some good-natured talk, a walk about the farm, and Jean’s wonderful cooking, prepared on a real wood stove. Jean told me about some of the neighbourhood teens that would drop in for a visit every once in a while. I’m sure they were longing for the warmth and security of Jean and her legendary hospitality. My own recollections drift to family Christmas gatherings with Longs, Reynolds, and Porters; of making ice cream in the hand churn with thick cream and ice dug from the creek under the bridge, after a day’s haying; and dancing to uncle Cec’s 78’s after a big meal.

Now Jack, too, is married with his own children, and Mary, Marleen, and Colleen are grandparents themselves. The love that Jean and Cec showered on all their family and community continues to flow back to them through their descendants and friends. At uncle Cec’s memorial, I asked the question: “What is the measure of a man?” I answered my question by saying that it would take a tall yardstick to measure Cecil Reynolds. What is the measure of the woman Jean Reynolds? I say that her strength may only be tested by a very strong bond.

Eulogy by Sandy Long