Jean Pawson

Obituary of Jean Pawson

Jean Elizabeth Pawson (nee Beck), age 98, of Calgary, Alberta left us in peace on March 15, 2023, at the Bethany Care Centre, Cochrane, Alberta. Jean was born August 24, 1924, in Launceston, Tasmania to parents Frank and Margaret Beck.


Jean left Tasmania as a young nurse at 27, eventually meeting her husband Ken in London, England in 1951, who had just returned from Antarctica. They met at a lecture Ken was giving on his adventures where she arrived late which interrupted his slide presentation as her figure cast a shadow on the screen and her eyes were caught like a deer in the headlights of the slide projector.  Ken fell in love with this shy Aussie girl then and the two were married in January of 1952. Soon after they began a life of adventure, living in Tonga, Samoa, the jungles of Borneo, Australia, and England before finally settling in Canada in 1962.


Jean’s chosen career as a nurse was graciously bestowed on her family, raising two fine sons Brett and Mark, while she continued her professional life, working long hours as an on-call pediatric nurse.  Jean was a loving mother and devoted wife. Early in her career she donated her skills as a field nurse in the Borneo jungles and other SE Asian tropical locations where Ken would often be posted as a British surveyor. It is family legend that she whacked the head off a dangerous snake lying on a jungle pathway because the locals (indigenous Dayak head-hunters) refused to “shoo” it off the path. This was after she had been taken out from the Borneo jungle by dugout canoe down river to get to the nearest hospital to deliver Brett.  Mark joined the clan three years later and it is still uncertain if the hectic taxi ride to the General hospital in the concrete jungle of Calgary was any less dangerous.


As a mother of two young boys, nurse, hiker, mountain scrambler and skier, Jean maintained an active life that is credited for her enduring fortitude and quiet wisdom. Nothing could stop her faith in herself and her family. Jean loved spending time scrambling in the mountains with Ken and visiting her Australian home in their retirement. Her grandchildren and their partners loved her for her quick wit, candid and always thoughtful insights, living authentically and to her fullest, love of nature, mountain wisdom, and dark sense of humor. Jean was kind and generous, and showed her love in the beautiful and elaborate dinners she spent so much time carefully preparing, particularly for holidays and other special occasions.


Jean kept her love of the mountains and hiking alive well into her early 90s. She “crushed” the Consolation Lakes hike near Lake Louise, Alberta at the age of 92 with all her grandchildren. She was an active member of the Tin Lizzies University of Calgary Ladies hiking group until she retired from them in 2014. Jean was an avid gardener. When she wasn’t busy caring for others, she could be found tenderly organizing her much loved flower garden. She was predeceased by her husband Ken in 2014, Her sister Margaret in 2012 and her brother James (bomber pilot WWII, 1945). She is survived by her sons Brett, Mark and his wife Michelle; and her five grandchildren and their spouses, Kailon and Mia, Duncan and Valentina, Danica and James, Kent, and Jonathan.


God bless you mum.


Final words go to her loving husband Ken from a poem he wrote years ago.


Dearest Jean

If I could find the words to say

How much you mean to me,

I’d use them many times each day

But still they’d only be –

A very poor way to tell

All that your name does mean,

So I hope you’ll try and understand

When I whisper – “Dearest Jean”


A private family service will be held. Condolences, memories, and photos can also be shared and viewed here.


In living memory of Jean Pawson, a tree will be planted in the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area by McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes, Cochrane, 369 Railway Street, Cochrane, AB T4C 2E2, Telephone: 403-932-4740.

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