It is with great sadness that the family of James K. Irving mark the passing of Jean Elizabeth Saunders Irving, age 93. The beloved family matriarch passed away peacefully at home in Rothesay on October 29th surrounded by her loving husband and children. Born to Edith Keiller Saunders of Croyden, England and Adolphus Saunders of Brockton, Massachusetts on April 20, 1926 she grew up on the family farm in Glenvale, New Brunswick (near Petitcodiac) and received her primary education in the community’s oneroom schoolhouse. Following high school in Petitcodiac, Jean attended the school of nursing at Chipman Memorial Hospital in St. Stephen becoming a registered nurse.
For 69 years she was the loving wife and “compass” to her husband Jim, and a wonderful mother to their four children: Jim, Robert, Mary-Jean and Judith. Jean was the very proud grandmother of 14 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren, as well as a loving aunt to many nieces and nephews.
Beloved by her family, Jean had an unwavering Christian faith, reaching out to many out of love for the Lord, and a tremendous compassion for those in need. She was a Sunday school teacher for many years and a member of the Saint John First Wesleyan Church, and served on the board of the Beulah Camp & Conference Center in Brown’s Flat. She and her husband built a youth dorm on Caton’s Island for campers and counsellors. Her love of children inspired her to form the Netherwood Chapel Kids Club 25 years ago which has an enrolment of up to 60 local children and sponsors over 40 children in need around the world through Compassion Canada. She was a longstanding board member of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Salvation Army for ver 30 years.
A volunteer instructor of the Red Cross Care in the Home Program in Saint John for many years, she also served as the provincial chairperson of that committee. Her support of the Red Cross swimming program saw over 1,500 children benefit from lessons. Jean was a key figure in the development of the first Community Autism Centre and First Steps Project in Saint John. She was also the proud sponsor of HMCS Fredericton and maintained a longstanding connection with the crew and their families over the years.
Jean was an artist who loved to paint, learning under the tutelage of Reverend R.H. Nicholson about whom she published a book entitled, R.H. Nicholson: Painter and Man of God. Jean was also a wonderful cook and published her favourite recipes in The Old Farm Favorites Cookbook.
Jean Irving was also an entrepreneur. As CEO of Studio House and Evergreen Gardens, she was active in the creation of parks, arboretums, and playgrounds. Her contributions included the Lou MacNarin School playground in Moncton, MacNarin Park in Rexton, the A.F. & Edith Saunders Park at the Petitcodiac Regional School.
Jean and her husband had also undertaken community projects including the Millennium Dome Park in Saint John, Saunders Irving Chapel in Sussex as well as numerous projects in Bouctouche including the Irving Memorial Chapel, gardens and
arboretum as well as the Marina at Sawmill Point.
Jean is the recipient of the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, the Queen Elizabeth II Silver and Gold Jubilee Medals, the Salvation Army’s Order of Distinguished Auxiliary Service, Saint John Community Foundation Award, a Paul Harris Fellowship (Bouctouche Rotary Club), and honorary degrees from Kingswood University in Sussex and Houghton College in New York.
Above all, Jean was a caring and supportive wife and mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Her greatest passion and joy came from her family, her church and the young people around her. She will be greatly missed.
I lift up my eyes to the hills -
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the
Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121 verses 1 & 2
Visitation: November 1
7 Maiden Lane
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Funeral: November 2
Saunders Irving Chapel
Private family interment in Bouctouche to follow.
Anyone wishing to send flowers are asked to please make a donation to a charity of their choice.