Jeanette Clark – In Memoriam

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Jeanette Clark

Jeanette Clark passed away peacefully at Sunnybrook Palliative Care from a recurrence of lymphoma. For many years she was an enthusiastic member of the Academy, as participant, committee member and facilitator.

Jeanette was born and bred in the city of Glasgow and exemplified the Scottish reverence for learning and self-improvement. She had a long and varied career as teacher/librarian, most latterly at Jesse Ketchum Public School. She often recounted that she “never let a child escape from her who didn’t know how to read and read well.” Many decades later some of her former students were still keeping in touch and paying Jeanette visits.

If the Toronto Public Library issued Frequent Flyer points, Jeanette could have gone to the moon and back many times over. Whenever you met her, her first question would always be, “What have you been reading?” followed by “What shall we talk about?” My enduring memory of Jeanette relates to Zoom calls we had during the pandemic. Sitting at her desk, cup of tea in hand, she would gleefully show off the teetering piles of library books she had assembled. Since she was such an assiduous reader of book reviews and publishers’ releases, she always seemed to be at the head of the hold queue for any hot new release. Jeanette had a high regard for all literature but would admit, if pressed, to having a special affinity for Irish writers, particularly Sebastian Barry and Seamus Heaney.

Jeanette also loved the arts in general. She was crazy about dance – less so classical ballet and more so cutting edge contemporary choreography. She was a regular attendee at the symphony and travelled the world for her special love, opera. Visual arts were also something she strove to learn more about – she loved reading the columns of Peter Schjeldahl, the long-time art critic of The New Yorker, and had a special regard for the work of the German Expressionist painter, Paula Modersohn Becker.

Above all else, Jeanette had an insatiable appetite for learning. One day, she told me she was feeling tired having been up half the night following a new interest – the satellite tracking of migratory birds. “It was so fascinating!” she exclaimed, “I just couldn’t stop.”

Jeanette brightened and enriched many lives. She will be missed. To read the Globe and Mail obituary go to:

by Susan Murphy