Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting
to see just you all day
and now the day was complete.
There was no greater song to which B. Jean Mannerow danced than the melody of being a grandmother. She was affectionately known as “Gram Cracker” and “G-Ma.” and revelled in it. In being a grandmother, Jean was able to blend the steps of silliness together with the rhythm of unconditional love and acceptance. As Rudy Giuliani once quipped, “What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.”
Barbara Jean Mannerow was born Wednesday, May 10, 1939 in Owen Sound to George and Lila (Hodge) Baker, both of the Port Elgin area. Jean was followed by brother Don in 1941. The Baker family was a farming family, first operating a dairy farm followed by cultivating 100 acres of tobacco. Their farm was located on the southern edge of Port Elgin near Goble’s Grove.
As with any dance, there are many missteps and one occurred when Jean’s parents separated when she was just ten or eleven years of age. Of course, this was traumatic for Jean but she and her younger brother Don remained with their father were they were supported and cared for by their Aunt Ida and Grandma Baker.
Jean became a big sister again in 1959 when Jean’s mother and step-father, Lila and Percy, adopted a daughter, Lori.
Ken Mannerow worked summers on the Baker tobacco farm and many weekends were spent dancing at the Pavilion in Port Elgin. The truth of it is, like many couples of that era, Ken and Jean courted on the dance floor. Apparently, Ken added life to the party as he brought the car and drinks, and a good time was had by all!
Having met Ken prior to leaving for Toronto to work and experience big City life, the couple reconnected upon Jean’s return home. They were married on July 9, 1960 at Saugeen Golf Club outside Port Elgin. Dancing the dance of love, Jean and Ken welcomed daughters Sheila in 1961, Lynn in 1962 and son Steve in 1966.
The dance of life moved forward rapidly as Ken and Jean busily raised their children. When Steve entered school, Jean resumed her work outside of the home working part-time for Holst Real Estate in Chesley. Following this, Jean went on to work part-time for various branches of the Royal Bank of Canada including Paisley, Hanover, Durham and Elmwood until her retirement at age 60.
Jean and Ken resided on Lot 29, Concession 8 of Elderslie Township, until 2002 at which time Steve and Wendy purchased the farm from them. They spent the next several years on Yonge Street in Tara. Their dance steps slowed a little when Ken was diagnosed with cancer. The dance stopped completely, at least as we know it, when on June 29, 2007 Ken waltzed into heaven. For a time, Jean lost her balance. However, not willing to be a wallflower for the rest of her days, Jean picked up on the tempo of her song and danced more fully with her family, especially her grandchildren, and friends.
She moved back to Chesley in November of 2008, and from there continued to knit, sew, read, and travel with “the girls”. Her grandchildren carried on their teachings, educating Jean on the use of a computer, even Facebook, allowing them to communicate more freely.
No matter what, Jean watched and supported her grandchildren, attending dance recitals, soccer, hockey, ringette and baseball games. In fact, Jean’s passion in life was her grandchildren. She would do anything with, and for them. She taught her family to always be kind, to be charitable, to lead by example, to allow the children to make their own decisions, and to not be judgemental or too vocal with them. Her one downfall–the Shopping Channel! Being a night owl, this program filled the long, empty hours. Jean took great pride in her appearance and she experienced joy by taking care in dressing and she loved accessorizing. It was something she did for herself. Aside from that, Jean lived through others, and for others.
She herself curled competitively. She was a long-time member of the Order of the Eastern Star, serving as Worthy Matron three times and was a current member of the Goodwill Chapter in Harriston. Jean served her Lord sitting on the Board of Managers at Geneva Presbyterian Church as well as with the women’s groups. She canvassed for the Canadian Cancer Society and Heart & Stroke Foundation. She sat on the Chesley Hospital Auxillary. She convened and catered for the Chesley Curling Club and Chesley Community Centre and participated in the Agricultural Society and Fall Fairs.
The curtained closed on Jean’s life on Saturday, November 7, 2015 at the Residential Hospice of Grey Bruce at the age of 76 years.
Beloved wife of her late husband Ken (2007). Loving mother of Sheila (Ron) James of Meaford, Lynn (Trent) Blake of Owen Sound and Steve (Wendy) of R.R. #2 Chesley. Very proud grandmother (G-Ma) of Brendon, Chris, Megan (Blair), Ryan, Becky (Jon), Erin and Faith and great-grandmother of Callie, Violet and Nathan. Dear sister of Don (Linda) Baker of Minden and Lori McInally of Kitchener. Jean will be fondly remembered by her in-laws Isabelle (Leith) Elder of Tara, Lloyd (Marjorie) Mannerow, Dianne (Ross) King and Reg (Dayle) Mannerow, all of the Chesley area. She was predeceased by her parents and step-parents, George (Debra) Baker and Lila (Percy) Christman and her brother-in-law, Jim McInally.
Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Thursday, November 12, 2015 from 2 – 4 and 7 – 9 p.m. where an Order of the Eastern Star service will be held at 9 p.m. A funeral service celebrating Jean`s life will be held at Geneva Presbyterian Church, Chesley on Friday, November 13, 2015 at 1 p.m. Interment in Chesley Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Residential Hospice of Grey Bruce, South West Community Care Access Centre or the Canadian Cancer Society would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.
For more information about this obituary visit http://www.rhodyfamily.com.