Jean (74) was born in Barnsley to her parents Percy and Olive and grew up part of a very large family with many brothers and sisters. When I spoke to her sister Janet she told me that Jean was a lovely little girl who always took pride in her appearance. As a family the children went to Sunday School and church 3 times on a Sunday; setting a strong foundation of Christian faith. She was bright child who went to Darfield Foulstone High School becoming a prefect there. On leaving school she did some modelling having her picture in the local paper where she was compared to Brigitte Bardot.
Jean was always a kind individual. When her parents thought School photographs to be too expensive it was Jean who bought them for her brothers and sisters. Because the family needed the income Jean went to work in the mills in Bradford which was a disappointment to her. It was as a teenager that Jean met Bob – she told me that she actually stole him off her mate! They married in 1962 and as you know it has been a long and happy marriage where they were together almost every day. Jean’s steady hand as company secretary perfectly complemented Bob’s entrepreneurial risk-taking spirit both of them working very hard.
Jean and Bob had two children; Kevin and Deborah. Deborah told me how Jean loved her garden and would love to ride with very fond memories of hacking through the woods. For a time Jean ran a café at Whitley Bridge where she often catered for the West Yorkshire Police firearms team: she gave this up when they moved to East Cowick. For many years Jean and Bob’s social life centred around showing their cattle travelling to shows in their motorhome which Jean drove while Bob drove the cattle.
Clearly Jean and Bob worked hard but in retirement they found time to go on cruises to the Carribbean and loved visiting Tenerife. They also bought a villa in Spain but Jean’s ill health meant that they had to give this up which was when they moved to Burghwallis. Jean loved being a grandma and doted upon her grandsons; Jordan, James and Oliver.
Deborah told me how Jean had been in quite good health until recent months and how she was determined to be well enough to attend Bob’s funeral in November which she did. It is poignant to be here again in this place so soon after Bob’s funeral but there is also a sense of rightness that Jean and Bob are reunited once more – it is as if they were always meant to be together.
Faith has always played an important part in Jean’s life from the time spent in Sunday school until today. Deborah told me that Jean was baptised as an adult at Adwick Le Street with her when Deborah was 3. For Jean faith has been more than a badge but a personal commitment. So, it is right that she will be laid to rest here with her beloved Bob.
There is great sense of loss when a husband and wife die within such a short space of time because it is a loss of parents and grandparents; brother and sister and friends. But for Jean and Bob there is also a sense of completeness in them being together in death as they were in life. But, for those left behind, there is a greater void, a greater sense of loss. As we often say, the pain we feel is the pain of love; if you did not love then it would not hurt.
At this time of year, we in the Church remember the birth of Jesus. In Jesus God became like us so that we might be like him. He died as we die so that we may rise as he rose. This is the Christian hope that we shall live, eternally united with him and with those we love. The vision of heaven that the Bible gives is of joy and delight, celebration and peace. Jesus compares it to being at home in our father’s house – a place of comfort and safety.
So, we commend Jean’s soul to God’s eternal keeping. Reunited with Bob may she now rest in peace and rise in glory.
Rev. Dr Richard Walton