Jean Webber (née Browne), BA’57, MA’68

Jean WebberBorn July 10, 1919, in Medicine Hat; died in Kelowna on April 17, 2012.

Jean’s life has been shaped by her lifelong involvement in education; her work in the community in support of the arts and the Okanagan Historical Society; and her deep commitment to family and church – interests shared with her husband, Bernard, until his passing in 2000.

After graduating from high school in Nelson, Jean attended the Provincial Normal School in Victoria, where she met Bernard. After teaching in rural schools on the Arrow Lakes and in the Okanagan, Jean married Bernard on July 1, 1941. Later that same year Bernard was elected to the BC Legislature as the CCF MLA for Similkameen from 1941-45. Jean was very much his partner in campaign and constituency work. After Bernard returned to a career in education, several moves and the birth of children, Jean returned to teaching, first at Duncan on Vancouver Island, and then at the Provincial Model (rural) School in Vancouver. She and Bernard earned bachelor and master degrees in English at UBC while the family was growing up. Jean taught at the Vernon Centre of the new Okanagan College in the late 1960s while Bernard was Director for Vernon schools. Their five children would all become graduates of UBC.

Among her many activities in support of the arts, Jean served as president of the first Okanagan Regional Arts Council, and initiated planning for a regional arts festival. Jean’s contributions to BC history included serving on the executive of the Okanagan Historical Society; serving as editor of the Society’s annual report; researching and writing articles on BC history; co-editing with the En’owkin Centre Okanagan Sources, a source book on Okanagan First Nations history; and compiling and editing material from more than 60 years of OHS Reports, writing continuity as needed, for the book A Rich and Fruitful Land, a history of the Okanagan, Similkameen and Shuswap valleys.

Family was always central to Jean’s life. Her sense of family extended to those in need in the community and to church. Jean served the Christian Science church in many capacities, pursuing her own spiritual journey and assisting others in pursuing theirs in an ecumenical spirit. Jean is lovingly remembered by her family and many friends.

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