WILLIAMS, Jennifer

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(December 12, 1935 – September 20, 2016) With broken hearts, we announce the passing of Jennifer Williams (nee Tancred), with family at her bedside.

Jennifer is survived by her daughter Becky Mihell (Jim) of Sault Ste. Marie, ON, her granddaughters Wendy Mihell of Calgary, AB, and Erika Mihell of Sault Ste. Marie, ON, and her sister Peta Tancred of Montreal. Pre-deceased by her husband, Burke Williams, and their daughter, Dr. Pamela Williams.

Jennifer will be greatly missed by the numerous people whose lives she touched; particularly those within the congregation of Emmanuel United Church, where she spent much of her energy working on various projects and committees, and visiting those in need.

Jennifer was born in Bombay, India in the pre-war years.  At the age of eight, accompanying her younger sister Peta, she attended boarding school in the northern part of the country, a four day’s train journey away. From then on, the two sisters could visit their parents only on an annual basis.

This experience instilled in Jennifer a strong, independent character who met life’s challenges head-on.  Always aware of the needs of others, Jennifer was a tireless and devoted ally to those in need.  Where help was needed, she would step in un-bidden to address those needs.

Jennifer came to Canada at the age of seventeen.  She graduated from Nursing at the Royal Victoria Hospital School of Nursing, and was married to Burke, the love of her life, in 1958, shortly after her graduation.

After working as a nurse for twenty years, and motivated by what was to her an undesirable trend away from hands-on patient care, she went on to obtain her Master’s degree in social work from the University of Toronto while juggling a career, motherhood, caring for elderly parents, and running a household.

She then continued her career as a social worker on the palliative care team at Oshawa General Hospital.  This position afforded Jennifer with the opportunity to pursue her devotion towards the emotional and spiritual needs of people going through life’s greatest challenges.

Jennifer was a doer.  She had an innate sense of what was right, and she was driven to work tirelessly and selflessly to support worthy causes such as caring for refugee families and sponsoring children in group homes in India.  One of the last notable events in Jennifer’s life was the opportunity to finally meet one of these children, Sedonna and her own family, 37 years after the start of her sponsorship.

Having suffered an unimaginable loss with the death of her youngest child at the prime of life, Jennifer threw herself into her family and was a strong and guiding presence in the lives of her two granddaughters, with whom she spent countless hours reading books, walking through the woods, or gamely participating in virtually any endeavour they showed an interest in.  Normally stoic and dignified by nature, she was prone to engaging in impromptu adventures – not all of which (like tobogganing while well into her 60s) seemed well-advised.  She was particularly prone to such undertakings if they were dreamt up by one of her granddaughters.  Jennifer’s love of literature, nature, and her adventurous spirit lives on in Wendy and Erika.

During their years together, Jennifer and Burke raised two children, and instilled in them the same sense of values that they shared, taught them to be dependable, and to honour family commitments.

Burke and Jennifer called many places home – from Calgary to Ottawa and many places in between.  Despite the distance, they often found the means to find their way to Brampton, to be with Burke’s sister, Jackie, and brother-in-law Al, and their family, with whom many good times were shared.  In their later years together, Jennifer and Burke traveled the continent together in their trusty mini-motorhome, ‘Max’, and they would come home with stories and pictures of places seen and adventures had.

Gardening was a life-long passion for Jennifer, and having had no success in passing along her green thumb to either of her daughters, she went on to refocus her efforts in this regard with her granddaughters.

After Burke’s death, Jennifer soldiered on, focusing her energy on her own travelling and volunteerism – most particularly with the Friends of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and Emmanuel United Church.  Despite her advancing debilities, which increased her own suffering, she never complained.  Proud, strong, and determined, she was our rock until the end.

Jennifer enriched the lives of all those around her, and the world has been left a better place because of her. 

A celebration of her life will be held at Emmanuel United Church on Tuesday, October 11 at 2 o’clock.  Prior to the service, visitation will occur from 1 – 2 PM, and tea and a social gathering will take place after the service. Interment to follow at a later date at Stoney Creek.

The family would like to thank Dr. Bragaglia and Dr. Fratesi for their compassion, dedication and care.  In addition, many thanks to the staff at Collegiate Heights, friends too numerous to list from Emmanuel United Church and the various staff at CCAC who supported Jennifer through her final journey.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Emmanuel United Church, Pamela C. Williams Memorial Award, Queens University, or a worthy charity of your choice.

Above all, and as a tribute to Jennifer’s life, show kindness and tolerance to others, and always be willing to help out others in need.

Arrangements entrusted to Arthur Funeral Home & Cremation Centre (492 Wellington St. East, 705-759-2522). Expressions of sympathy may be made at www.arthurfuneralhome.com