Josephine Marie Neave (nee Keefe) was born in the Mission hospital at Southbank, July 10, 1926. She was the youngest daughter of John & Alice Keefe. The Keefe family owned a hotel, general store & sawmill which kept Josephine and her 5 siblings busy and out of trouble. They lived at Southbank till 1937 at which time the family moved to the North side of Francois Lake taking over Jacob Henkels farm at the top of the hill. Jo attended the Francois Lake School and completed her education by correspondence. After leaving school, her fist job was at the Burns Lake Hardware & Garage. This was not a job that she wanted for a career, so she left there and worked for BC telephone, learning Morse code as part of the job. This job didn’t last all that long before she realized that working with the sick was more in line with her interest of helping people. She was offered a training position under Dr. Holmes and hospital matron Beulah Burns. Jo was happy with this type of work and decided that there was an opportunity to expand her nursing career. She applied for a position at the Military hospital in Prince George, after 2 years she decided that the big city of Vancouver was the next step in her career. She tried her hand at working in a dress shop but that didn’t replace the need to work with the sick and the elderly. She started nursing at VGH, mostly night shift, long hours and a few days off. Jo’s mother became very sick so back up north she came to look after her mom. This is when she met the love of her life, Hugh Neave, eldest son of Agnes & Harold Neave who owned the General Store & Resort at the landing. Wedding bells soon were ringing, Jo & Hugh were married, September 10, 1949.
They started their married life in a little 2 room cabin situated near the ferry landing. It is now long gone but it served them well until they realized that there first child was on the way and space was going to be an issue. They moved to the house on the hill and it has been called home ever since.
Hugh and Jo took over the Neave family business in 1969. The resort was booked full all summer, so you can imagine the amount of linens that needed to be washed daily. Jo made many lasting relationships with the tourists that stayed with them. In-between looking after 4 kids, Richard, Marie, Mark & Kathy, she found time to go fishing out in front of the landing and kept the larder stocked with fresh trout. Her love of the water helped push her into taking Sailing lessons. It seemed every time that she and her sister in law Eunice Keefe went out on Francois Lake, the wind would come up. They loved the water spraying in their faces and the sense of freedom and the power of Mother Nature. Josephine’s love for travel had taken her to Denmark, Germany, France, Holland, England and Ireland, numerous times. These travels have opened connections with relations they had never met before. Both Jo & Hugh’s ancestors were from England, Ireland & Denmark. What a wonderful experience. Her Danish ancestory must have been the driving factor behind her love for cross country skiing and her participation in the Omenica Ski Club for many years. She continued to ski until her knee started to show signs of deterioration. She traveled her last trip to Ireland in 2008 to visit her daughter Kathy and her 3 children. Of interest, the Keefe family imigrated from Ireland so we know where Jo got her “Irish Spunk” from.
Her adventuresome spirit has also taken her and her family on many road trips across the country exploring new places. There have been many camping trips to the Queen Charlotte Islands, all over BC, through Alberta and into Saskatchewan. There were also 2-3 camping excursions down into the US via the Oregon Coast, the Redwoods and finishing off in Wyoming at Yellowstone National park to witness the famous geyser “Ole Faithful” and not forgetting the trips to Ontario via the railway. Weather was never a deterrent. Rain slickers and gum boots were always ready. She was never to busy to go on a picnic or a road trip. Everything was dropped and the cooler packed.
She loved rock collecting and prospecting. Her pockets were always filled with rocks that she had gathered along th way. She was a collector… drift wood, plants and any other beautfy of nature that she could bring back to remember the trip. Music also was on the fop the list of interests. She loved all music but classical and opera were the best, although Hugh was a cowboy through & through. So you can imagine the challenge with listening to country music and classical. They don’t mix well.
In 1996, she traveled with her daughter and granddaughter to Vancouver to attend a concert with the “Three Tenors”. She talked of this concert for months that followed. Her favorite tenor singer was actually Mario Lanza but these 3 were also very good. Every December 24th, Christmas eve on the stroke of midnight, she would turn on the stereo and listen to the Messiah without any interruptions from family as everyone was tucked into bed.
Gardening was another interest that filled the spring & summer months. Flowers, vegetable and berries were in abundance around the yard and inside the house. Canning, freezing and preparing for winter took many of the summer hours. This love of gardening and her green thumb has been passed down to her kids also.
Jo also had a love for community, which filled any extra time that she was not accounted for. Started with the Francois Lake Women’s Institute for a few years until it closed. She then joined the Southside Women’s Institute and had been a member for over 40 years. She was born on the Southside and considered herself a Southsider for the rest of her life. She contributed many years to the Heart & Stroke foundation as it’s chairperson and a member. This took both Jo and Hugh into the community, meeting folks and building lasting relationships. The Fall Fair was the latest community activity. The work was extremely hard for the older folks altough Jo would never admit that she and Hugh were starting “slow down”. But it was worth it.
One of the greatest accomplishments that Jo spoke of was the love of her family and the celebration of their 60th wedding anniversary September 10, 2009. Hugh was the love of her life and between them they were blessed with 4 children, 11 grandchildren and now 7 great grandchildren and another on the way. She was always there, not only for her own children and family but the neighborhood as well. She never knew how many mouths would need to be fed at the supper table but no one left the table hungry.
Her life was full, never forgetting an important date from birthdays to anniversaries and graduations. There was always a call at bedtime to make sure that her flock was safe and tucked in for the night.
She has left a legacy of love, compassion and a sense of family values that are indescribable. Her strength was in her faith, her belief in God and her family which carried her through the last months of her life.
With dignity intact and family at her bedside she peacefully slipped away Feb 18th to walk with God.