FYFE, JEAN CARVILLE nee YOUNG
Jean Carville Young was born in Glasgow in 1892. Four years later she, two older brothers and a recently widowed mother emigrated to New Zealand, settling in Palmerston North, where they had relations. After leaving primary school, Jean joined the firm of Hodder and Tolley as clerk. Here she met William Clark Fyfe, one of the firm's travellers, and the two were married at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church on 20 December 1922. Later they shifted to Hawera where William was branch manager of Hodder and Tolley and they built a house at 69 Waihi Road.
During the depression years Jean was secretary of the Citizens' Relief Committee. It was a hands-on job. Every Saturday morning she was at the borough council offices distributing rations; every Monday morning during the worst of the depression years, she would put on gumboots and William would driver her to Normanby or Ohawe beach where she visited distressed families, mostly walking home in the afternoon. Jean was not a "charitable lady" nor did she spend energy on the "deserving poor". For her there were only people, some of whom were having a hard time, so she did her best to help. Swaggers never passed her gate without coming in for a meal and a chat in the kitchen.
Jean figured largely in the inauguration of the Hawera branch of the Workers Educational Association (WEA). Many of the early meetings were held at her house, while William, travelling for his firm, delivered the "box courses" to outlying farmers. Jean became a member of the Hawera Technical High School Board of Governors. In those days, those who could tended to send their children to boarding school, and Jean, concerned for the school's reputation, was reported in the Hawera Star as saying at a board meeting: "the school is being sniffed at behind scented handkerchiefs at afternoon tea parties", much to the consternation of her daughter.
It was her work for the cancer campaign that, in later years absorbed her energy. Largely due to her effort of raising interest and money, a supply of radium was secured - in wartime - for use by a clinic at the New Plymouth Hospital. Jean was an enthusiastic amateur dramatist, taking part in many of the plays put on in St Joseph's Hall during the Drama League festivals. She also enjoyed music having a fine contralto voice. Singing round the piano was one of the evening pastimes, particularly when there were guests.
Jean died at Hawera on the 15 December 1946 aged 54 years. At her funeral at St John's Presbyterian Church, her daughter Frances has a clear memory of the polished boots of the council road gang. The men sat in one of the back pews and had come to pay tribute to someone who always saw that they had morning and afternoon billy tea when they were working near her house.
Frances Porter, Wellington (daughter)
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