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Jean Hayes (84) Funeral Sermon

Jean Hayes of Grange Lane Burghwallis died on December 2017

Jean was born in South Kirby where she lived with her parents Charles and Gwen. Jean was the oldest of four girls with her sisters: Sheila, Barbara and Susan. Although because her dad worked as a builder they often moved with his job so that before moving to Doncaster they had lived in Scarborough and Leeds. When I spoke to Janet she told me that, as a 3 year old, Jean laid the first brick of the Odeon Cinema in Scarborough. This is now a listed Art Deco building and home to the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

Jean went to school in Leeds before the family moved to Doncaster where Jean began work for an insurance company before final working at the Estate Agency as an accounts clerk. Jean and Ron met at her cousin Betty’s 21st birthday party. As I am sure many of you will be aware Ron asked her to marry him on their first date and possibly for the only time in her life she said “No!” They married in 1954 when Jean was 21 and had been very happily married for nearly 60 years until Ron’s death.

Jean and Ron moved to Balby which was where Janet and Paul were born. Janet told me how Jean’s rather gentle and caring nature moderated Ron’s strictness as a parent so that she often was the one who poured oil onto troubled waters. She also told me how Jean was always a strong and positive influence on their lives as children. She told me how they have fond memories of family holidays to Llandudno or Newquay, on days out, or memorably to the Norfolk Broads where Jean was always there as a calm and encouraging presence. In fact, Jean was very proud of them both so that they could do no wrong in her eyes. When the children were growing up Jean worked as a dinner lady which ensured that was always around for them.

Jean and Ron retired to Burghwallis 35 years ago where Jean was able to indulge her passion for gardening growing flowers and vegetables. This clearly had some impact because about 10 years ago they found two nuns visiting from South Africa in the garden just taking photographs – impressed by what they saw.

Jean loved looking after Ron upon whom she doted. As you know, Ron achieved much in his life but always said he could not have done this without the love of a supportive wife – in fact Jean did everything for him although he did learn to wash up after Jean had a stroke. Jean and Ron could be quite competitive when doing word games where Jean’s quick wit came to the fore. Jean was an avid reader especially of historical novels.

Jean was a loving grandma to Chris, Gareth, Mark and Alex whom she treated equally. She was of course devastated by the death of Gareth especially because she had such fond memories of Gareth completing the garden wall which Ron had begun to build.

Jean had been beset by illness – she had a stroke in 2009 and suffered from COPD and arrhythmia but she approached all this with her customary tenacity, recovering well. But lately there has been an increase in frailty so that she died with Paul and Janet at her side.

The Christian Hope is that death is not the end. In Jesus, God became like us so that we might be like him – he died as we die so that we might rise as he rose. But clearly when a loved one dies we feel the pain of loss, the pain of separation. And it is true that the pain we feel is the pain of love – if we did not love then it would not hurt. As our reading today says:

Love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave.

Today we are able celebrate Jean’s life well-lived as a doting wife, a loving mother, a devoted grandmother and great grandmother as a person whose gentleness and kindness served as a role model to her children.

We pray that this day Jean may rest in peace and may rise in glory.


Revd Dr. Richard Walton

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