Fern G. Payne (née Smith), BA’47

Fern SmithFern passed away in Victoria on Saturday, August 15, 2015, in her 91st year. She is survived by her beloved husband, Finlay; her children, Graham (Agnieszka) and Christine; and grandchildren Nairn and Flora.

Born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, ON, she attended the University of Toronto on an Ontario Scholarship – the first year the scholarships were granted – transferring in 1945 to UBC to complete her BA and furthering her studies a few years later with a diploma from the University of Heidelberg. Upon graduation, Fern joined Canada’s newly formed Civilian Intelligence Service (CB – NRC) in Ottawa. Later she continued in intelligence work with the Joint Intelligence Bureau of the Defence Research Board. As a hobby she took up gliding, holding an unofficial Canadian record in 1960 for a woman with a flight of nearly four hours’ duration.

Shortly after her marriage she became a full-time homemaker and over the years was involved with many public issues and groups ­­– chiefly, the Association for the Modernization of Canadian Abortion Laws (AMCAL). And, as an early and passionate proponent for a clean and safe environment, Fern eventually became president of Pollution Probe Ottawa. Moving to Victoria upon Finlay’s retirement, she was an active voice for sewage treatment in the Capital Regional District and was appointed to both the Saanich Recycling Committee and the Saanich Board of Variance.

A lifelong traveller, Fern travelled to more than 50 countries. Following her wishes, Fern’s ashes will be spread over a forest clear cut on Vancouver Island. Donations in Fern’s memory can be made to Ecojustice or to the Canadian Federation of University Women Victoria Scholarship and Bursary Society.

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