Obituary of Jean Levona Palmer
April 8, 1933~January 2, 2024 Age 90
Jean Levona Palmer, born April 8, 1933, at the Providence Hospital in Fort St. John, was the eldest child to James Warne MacKenzie and Margaret (Cameron Campbell) MacKenzie. She was the apple of her dad’s eye and by the age of two was riding horses with him, beginning her lifelong love of horses.
She grew up on the homestead in North Pine and later moved to Fort St. John in 1948. In her early school days, she rode her horse to school every day, often giving neighbourhood kids a lift along the way. Jean graduated from North Peace Senior Secondary in 1953 as the self-proclaimed “Grade 12 cowgirl”. She spent a lot of her early years helping on the farm, driving horse teams and horse sleds back-and-forth into town. An avid horse person, it wasn’t long until Jean was riding racehorses as well as competing at rodeos locally, and eventually travelling throughout the province and beyond to showcase her skills. Notably, she competed at both the Calgary Stampede and the PNE Vancouver as a barrel racer. Her amazing barrel horse, “Pride” was very versatile in the arena in many events and Jean would fondly reminisce about the time her beloved black mare was chosen as one of the horses to be used in the RCMP musical ride when they came to perform in town. She also was the rodeo secretary for several consecutive years for the North Peace Light Horse Association. She enjoyed that position and really got to know a lot of the cowboys and cowgirls over the years, making a lot of lifelong friendships.
Jean’s love of horse racing continued throughout her life, and she had the opportunity to have a couple horses at the track. She made many friends at the track and enjoyed going every chance she got even if she didn’t have any horses in training.
Jean was a phenomenal fastball player and the Fort St. John Triple Six lady’s fastball team she played on won the Western Canadian championships in 1959. The stories she would share about her time playing ball were some of her grandkids’ favourites to hear. An often requested one involved the team making it to the championship game in a tournament, knowing the team they were up against could possibly beat them, and proceeding to pretend to party with them so that the opposing team showed up to the game hungover, while Jean’s team was in top form! The team’s accomplishments are currently on display at the Pomeroy Sports Center.
When Jean wasn’t busy on the farm, either haying or with the horses, she could be found working at Pappy’s service station, driving the dry-cleaning truck delivering clothes, and dispatching taxis. Much of her career was spent driving school bus and then later dispatching the buses for school district 60. So many people remember her as their school bus driver. She hauled kids and then hauled their kids. She had many stories to share about her bus driving days. Jean was as honest as the day is long and her integrity was impeccable, she would give you the shirt off her back even if she didn’t have one. She spoke her mind and was very independent and instilled that in her kids. She was her own advocate.
Jean loved music - she played the guitar and sang all her life. She grew up singing in all the church choirs and later with all her friends, especially her best friend Carey West. When the two of them got together, their connection could always be captured in the beauty of their harmonies. Anytime there was a house party or folks were sitting around a campfire, out would come her guitar. Most of Jean’s friends and family can probably pull up a memory of getting to listen to her share a tune or two.
Jean loved to play cards, especially crib. When her grandkids were young, she’d patiently work through a game of crib with them, helping them with their math and making sure they didn’t miss out on any points. Later, when her grandkids were grown, playing a game of crib was a regular tradition with most of their visits. She was also an avid bingo player and over the last few years would play every Thursday with her good friend Maureen.
Family was at the heart of Jean’s world. Whether you were immediate, extended, or chosen family, Jean’s love for you was as genuine and fierce as you could ever hope. Her two kids, Kim and Kevin, blessed her with four grandkids: Kameron (Kim) and Amanda, Brandy, and Calli (Kevin) and Kevin’s girls then blessed Jean with six beautiful great grandkids: Lane, Levi, and Walker (Amanda), Luca and Vida (Brandy), and Dylan (Calli). In a text message shared with her granddaughter Brandy, Jean said “Now I have 3 girls and 3 boys, aren’t I the luckiest Great Grandma you all know? I think so.” Her world revolved around them all and she enjoyed travelling with them all over, whether it was for sports, school band, and plays, or family vacations and road trips, she would be there cheering them on and having fun. She hardly (if ever) missed one of her grandkid’s events - from hockey, basketball, fastball, volleyball, badminton, and curling games to school plays and band concerts. Sleepovers at Grandma Jean’s were legendary, according to her grandkids. Their evenings would be spent playing cards, rolling coins, putting in curlers, watching TV, and building forts and the mornings (especially on Sundays) would be spent eating mountains of pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream and through all of the mayhem, Jean could be found with a smile on her face. She was their biggest fan, their beloved friend, and she always let them know how proud she was of them.
Jean is predeceased by her father, Warne MacKenzie, mother, Margaret MacKenzie, and brother Jim MacKenzie. Also gone before her were her niece, Maria Torrie, best friend Carey West and great friend Donalda Cochrane, her son-in-law, Kevin Furlong, and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.
She will be missed by her daughter Kim (Randy) and son Kevin (Julie), sister Judy Torrie, grandkids Amanda (Carl), Brandy (Shantelle), Calli (Tyson), Kameron and great grandchildren Lane, Levi, Walker, Dylan, Vida, and Luca. Along with many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews, extended family, chosen family, adopted family, and many, many friends.
There will be no celebration of life as per our mom’s request and we honour that.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Jean to the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation - Click Here to donate.
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