Jesmond Thompson (née: Lund)
Jesmond Thompson passed away peacefully August 22 in her home at Whistle Bend Place, Whitehorse, Yukon. A celebration of her life will be held Thursday, September 5th, 2:00 pm at Whitehorse United Church, 601 Main St., and Saturday, August 31st, 2:00 pmat Stonewall (MB) United Church, (369 First Ave N). She will be interred in Stonewall Cemetery at a private gathering of immediate family, alongside her husband, Rev. Glen Thompson, prior to the Stonewall service.
Born Sarah Jesmondine Lund in Stonewall, where she grew up, Jesmond then lived in Winnipeg, Dryden ON, Aylsham SK, Berens River, Thompson, Anola, and Gimli MB, and lastly, Whitehorse YT. Her father Thomas Lund emigrated from Sedbergh, Yorkshire; her mother Eileen Elliott was from Aurora ON. The youngest of six, with four sisters and a brother, she graduated from high school at 16, then attended the University of Manitoba on scholarship. Graduating in 1946 with a BA, she taught high school in Dryden for a year, next worked as an organizer for the Student Christian Movement in Winnipeg and then at the United Church’s Stella Mission, an immigrant mission in north-end Winnipeg.
In 1951 she married Rev. Glen Thompson of Davidson SK and they moved to Aylsham. In 1955 Glen and Jesmond took up a church post in Berens River, before moving to Windsor Park United in Winnipeg in 1961. Six children – Laurie (Lois Berry), Jennifer (Zack Gross), Ann Thompson Courchene, Heather Todd (Randy), Murray (Linda Wenstob) and Sheila (Mike Burdett) — came in quick succession. Life was busy with raising a family and the hosting, music playing and Sunday School teaching of a minister’s wife.
In 1972 Jesmond, Glen, and four children relocated to the new mining city of Thompson. Jesmond returned to university, gained her Education degree, and Madame Thompson began teaching French. In 1988 they retired to Anola, where Jesmond continued to fill in as a substitute teacher. Both were active in Anola United Church. In 2002 it was another move to Gimli MB, where Jesmond and Glen continued to be active in community and church life at Winnipeg Beach United Church. Glen passed away in 2014. A year later Jesmond started yet another adventure, moving to live with daughter Sheila and partner Mike in Whitehorse. Here she found a welcoming church home at Whitehorse United Church, with minister Rev. Bev Brazier.
Her 500-name Christmas letter list tracked her life. She stayed in touch with a huge network of friends and family from all the communities where she had lived, by letter, phone, then email and always as a gracious host to visitors.
Jesmond’s family of six children and partners,12 grandchildren and partners, and eight great grandchildren remember Jesmond’s graciousness, her determination and strength of will, her tolerance and patience, and her progressive social views. Above all, they remember her positive outlook on life and her love of family. Two granddaughters and three great granddaughters carry her names in her honour.
Jesmond was a woman of her time in her full commitment to family and church. She had a lasting effect on her children, grandchildren, her extended family and her church community. She was also a strong, independent woman, expressing her faith through a commitment to social justice, in her work with young people and as a citizen of her community and her world.
Jesmond’s positive approach to life carried on into her last days. Knowing she was dying, she called family members and friends to say good bye and listened to emails read to her from far away family, extended family and friends. The messages told her, and us, of Jesmond’s intelligence, kindness and compassion, her deep desire to serve other people, her warmth and welcoming home, how she made time for everybody, her genuine love and caring, her strength, grace, patience, courage and love.
One said, you “were there for us, when we needed help the most and showed to us what it means to be a Christian.” Another, “Thank you for setting such an amazing example of a life filled with love and community.”
Jesmond died comfortably, at peace with herself, her family and her God.
Her family wishes to especially recognize the care and support for Jesmond in her last years, first, from daughters Jennifer and Sheila and sons-in-law Zack Gross and Michael Burdett in Gimli, then from son-in-law Mike and daughter Sheila in Whitehorse. Other children and their partners visited often and provided back up support for crises, medical events, and respite.
Jesmond’s family also wishes to recognize the outstanding care she received in the last two years of her life in the Yukon long-term care system, in home care and at the Thomson Centre day program, Macaulay Lodge, and Whistle Bend Place in Whitehorse. We send a warm thank you to the staff who showed Jesmond how much they loved her with kindness and professional and thoughtful care. This is how resident and family-centred long-term care can and should be provided, and we are grateful for that.