Norma Jean (Jean) Stewart was born on Feb. 14, 1946, in Lethbridge, Alta., to Victor (Vic) and Majorie Stewart. She passed away peacefully in Pincher Creek, Alta., with her daughter at her side, on Dec. 17, 2023.
Jean’s early years were spent in Scandia, Alta., and then on the family farm located along the Bow River near Bow City, Alta. Growing up, Jean adored the family’s cats and dogs and spent a great deal of time following her big brother Don around the farm. She often mentioned how Don was her “hero” and how patient he was with his little sister. Her mother, Marjorie, was a teacher and Jean would be in her class for the first five years of her schooling in Bow City, although she finished high school in Brooks, where she graduated in 1963.
After high school, Jean went to business college in Calgary, then spent many years working in legal offices in both Calgary and Kelowna, B.C. Being in the “big city” was quite the change from rural farm life. Jean, however, enjoyed this new adventure, and often recalled the fun times and various people she met during these years.
In 1974, Jean moved to Pincher Creek after marrying Robert (Bob) Jenkins. Their daughter, Jennifer, was born in 1976, and in Jean’s words was “the light of our lives.”
In time Jean would once again return to the city, first living with Jennifer in Lethbridge and then eventually moving back to Brooks. During these years, she worked in different places as an executive secretary.
Jean always loved antiques, and her home in Brooks especially was filled with treasures she found all over North America. Decorating her home, complete with a one-of-a-kind teddy bear collection, was something that she truly loved. It was a special place that visitors were sure to remember. Her faithful companion Mitters, a beautiful Himalayan cat, was never far from her side.
With an interest in genealogy, Jean began researching her family tree during her time in Brooks, and became quite the master genealogist. She was involved in the Brooks Genealogical Society and the Alberta Genealogical Society, helping many others trace their family history over the years. In 1994, Jeans’s research led her to Scotland to meet relatives and follow in some of her dad’s footsteps. Jean referred to this as “the trip of a lifetime,” as she visited the places of her ancestors and met many relatives. A part of Jean’s heart seemed to live in Scotland and, had her health been better, she would have loved to visit again.
In 2009, Jean met Ken Weatherly, her dearest friend and companion. The couple resided in Provost, Alta., where Ken had grown up. Together, they took many road trips and enjoyed going out with Ken’s lifelong friends, who became dear to her heart.
Over the years in the different communities in which she lived, Jean made many friends. Despite her own challenges, she cared for others enormously and always made time to help or support those in need.
After Ken’s passing in 2015, Jean returned to Pincher Creek to be closer to her daughter, Jennifer. She loved the mountains and the area, especially Waterton Lakes National Park.
In August of 2023, Jennifer married Tom Skierka and Jean gained a whole new family who welcomed her with open arms and brought great happiness. She was especially overjoyed with the arrival of baby Lillian in July, making her a great-grandma.
Jean’s passing near Christmas is somewhat fitting, as she loved the holiday season, and in many ways, embodied the spirit of Christmas. Always one to find the perfect card or gift, her generosity and kind heart brought so much joy to others over the years. It didn’t hurt that she was a fabulous baker and chocolate maker, but it was her ability to make everyone feel special and loved that really touched people at Christmas.
Jean was predeceased by her parents, Marjorie and Victor Stewart; her son, Christopher Stamford; and her big brother, Don Stewart, whose loss last year was particularly hard on her.
She leaves behind her daughter, Jennifer Jenkins (Tom Skierka); niece Kelly Hackman (Kim), who was like a second daughter; and nephew Vaughn Stewart.
Though Jean’s immediate family was small, her friends could easily be called her “family.” She will be greatly missed.