At an early age Comrade Betty-Jean (B.J.) was already singular. She dreamt of being an astronaut. In the 1950’s girls did not apply to astronaut school. Years later, Comrade B.J. passed her VFR License, and is qualified to pilot a small Cessna aircraft.
As a member of the Air Force, her father moved his family from Toronto to Penfield Ridge, New Brunswick where they lived for two years. He was to be deployed overseas, and the family moved back to Toronto. Luckily, her father went no further than Newfoundland as peace was declared. Comrade B.J. recalls living on-base and becoming aware of veterans other than her father. A decade later, she remembers reading in the newspaper that the Korean conflict was finished. These events set the foundation for her future endeavours and commitment to be of service to community and country.
Her first job was with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada where she developed her skills by presenting opportunities of various programmes such as sports, arts, and day-camp to under-privileged youth.
In 1983, the Royal Canadian Legion accepted women as members. She joined the Alliston Branch. In close proximity to Camp Borden, she would take her children to the base to familiarize them with the tanks, aircraft, and trucks. She also became involved with tagging for Remembrance Day and she has never looked back.
At retirement, and as an empty-nester, Comrade B.J. immersed herself in a number of Branch volunteer positions within the Legion organization. Comrade Betty-Jean has served as our Branch 270 President. At this date, she is the District Secretary-Treasurer for District E and the Zone E-4 Ways and Means, and Seniors Chairperson. She enjoys these positions as they give her the opportunity to learn and share with our membership and guests that Branches are an integral part of the Royal Canadian Legion. She was selected among thirty-nine Branches in District E as the recipient of the 2018-2019 Legionnaire of the Year Award. She is our current Past-President, Poppy Chairperson, a member of the Honours and Awards Committee plus the Chairperson for the fall 2020 District E Convention.
Comrade B.J. prides herself in her commitment to be of service to others which is witnessed by her honesty, compassion and willingness to pick up the slack.
On those few occasions when Comrade B.J. is not volunteering, she joins her neighbours for conversation and a refreshing martini. She cherishes every moment with her children and grandchildren. She is comfortable with her life, and is satisfied with her achievements and enjoys living in Coldwater. Comrade B.J. has cruised around the world and shares that growing older has its challenges. Even if well-kept, everything seems to fall apart, be it a machine or the human body. Looking back over the past many years, Comrade B.J. states that time and experiences have helped develop her into a stronger person. A strong advocate of healthy living, she peppers her life in equal measure with friends, family, and her passion for oil-painting.
Comrade B.J. shared comments on global warming and urged us to listen more attentively. Closing the interview, Comrade B.J. said, “Being able to help someone provides immense personal satisfaction.” Comrade B.J. reiterates that a Veteran does not need to be a member of the Legion or a Branch. To this end, she strives to make the acquaintance of those individuals who could use Legion services and programmes by virtue of their service to our country. She hopes that the Royal Canadian Legion is able to continue with their great work of helping current and past Veterans and their families.
Comrade Betty-Jean, we thank you for your Volunteer Services.