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June 6, 2009 12:07 PM

The Legacy of a Devoted Mother, Nurse and Community Member

William Jackson and his two brothers, James and Robert, wanted to find a meaningful way of recognizing the memory of their mother while doing something important for the community. Establishing the Edith Jackson Memorial Bursary at Conestoga seemed like exactly the right thing to do.

Edith Jackson was born in Blenheim, Ontario, and spent her formative years in that same community. She was thrust into the role of caregiver early on following the death of her own mother from tuberculosis. Edith, the oldest of three, remained on the farm to help her father even following graduation from high school. After a number of years, her father recognized that Edith needed to be able to have her own life and so she ventured out, enrolling in the nursing program at Victoria Hospital in London.

She spent years working as a nurse around Southern Ontario, even travelling as far as Bermuda for a year, but came back to work for Victoria Hospital following WWII. Around 1947, Edith married and moved to Kitchener where she and her husband had three sons. But, sadly, tragedy would strike again and Edith would lose her husband in 1951 in a construction accident.

Edith worked hard as a single mother, supporting her young family. She worked many years for what is now known as Grand River Hospital. She took courses to be more focussed in specialized care areas. She lived and breathed caregiving, even living right across the street from the hospital all those years. She also took her community involvement very seriously with groups like the 11th Kitchener Scout Mothers and the United Church Women (Trinity United). Even following her retirement, she kept up with her volunteer work. Edith Jackson passed away in May 2007 at the age of 92, having put in a full lifetime of devotion to her family and community.

It was for these reasons her sons came to the decision that a bursary in their mother’s honour was precisely the right thing to do. "We knew we wanted something that recognized the things important to her so nursing had to be a part of that. She cared deeply about nursing both from her experience as a nurse and also from receiving care," notes William. He says the fact that there was such a strong nursing program right here in Kitchener made perfect sense to them.

In addition, creating the bursary with the goal of assisting someone who is either a single parent or from a single parent family, both of which represented the struggles Edith faced, was equally important. "We wanted to know the bursary would help people who were struggling in these situations. We also wanted to have our mother’s legacy go on in this community."

Conestoga College is thrilled to offer the Edith Jackson Memorial Bursary, thanks to the thoughtfulness and generosity of William, James and Robert Jackson in loving memory of their incredible mother, Edith.

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