By Moneca Jantzen
Canada isn’t the only one celebrating a birthday this July 1st weekend. Longtime Kamloops resident Gerry Glover is preparing to celebrate her 100th birthday alongside family and friends from all over the nation.
Glover’s birthday is technically on July 3rd and she hails from a place in northern New Brunswick called Jacquet River on Chaleur Bay, since absorbed by nearby Belledune, population 1,200.
She grew up as a Donnelly on the family farm with seven siblings—only one of whom is still alive. One sister remains and is eight years Glover’s junior.
With many fond memories of her childhood on the farm, Glover attributes this upbringing with not only making it possible to survive the Depression, the lifestyle provided her with a foundation and skill set that has enriched her and her family’s lives over many years.
Glover met her future husband, Garnet Glover, at a dance in Dalhousie, N.B. while he was on leave from the air force. During the war, Glover worked in a munitions plant in Montreal, QC. When the war ended, her fiancé was released back into civilian life in Vancouver, so they met there and married. A barber by trade, the Glovers were looking for a good place to put down roots and after a couple of years in Kelowna, they relocated to Kamloops in 1949.
They built their lives here and had six children—four girls and 2 boys. They moved around the city a few times starting out on the North Shore and eventually landing in Rayleigh. The Glovers were quite involved with square dancing and carpet bowling for a number of years.
Glover’s husband passed away at 90 years of age in 2003. Glover remained in the family home continuing to garden and live independently. Upon giving up her driver’s licence at the ripe old age of 90 she began taking the bus to get around town.
One day while taking the bus, Glover was at the bus exchange awaiting her connection when she was approached by a man she figured was about 70-years-old. He began complaining about how hard it was to walk and get around and that he preferred to take the Handy Dart.
Glover said “I’m actually 91 and still planting a garden and digging potatoes!”
Several weeks later, Glover was at the same bus exchange when the very fellow came up to her and started telling her all about this 91-year-old he had met that still gardens and digs potatoes! She had clearly made an impression on him even if he didn’t remember that it was her.
Glover’s children describe their mother as an excellent parent, a talented seamstress, as well as a great cook and baker. On top of all of that she is an avid gardener and would typically send her kids home with sacks of potatoes, carrots, onions, berries, walnuts and more from the garden in Rayleigh.
“We dubbed her the gorilla gardener!” said daughter Debra Cordo.
She is also considered to be quite resourceful and handy. Glover recounted how on one occasion she managed to get the family van going again through her own ingenuity. Her stint as “Rosie the Riveter” and life on the farm have served her well.
As Glover approaches her 100th birthday, she remains fiercely independent. Despite her years, Glover is in excellent health. She uses a walker to get around just because her “balance isn’t what it used to be” and is adamant about the value of walking. She is not ready to consider a scooter. She is a bit hard of hearing and is considering cataract surgery but she still only seeks out occasional help for getting groceries and going to appointments.
All but one of her children live elsewhere but they are not far and visit often.
A voracious reader, Glover was currently in the middle of two pithy biographies one of which was Olivia Chow’s “My Journey.” She’s also a big fan of this paper. During our meeting, Glover, referenced multiple back issues of The Connector and might be described as one of our greatest fans and supporters. She was also the one who suggested during a renaming contest four years ago that we don’t change the name beyond dropping “senior” and become simply “The Connector.” She was the winner of the contest.
Glover moved back to the North Shore in 2011 and moved into a condo, ironically very close to her original Kamloops address. While she loves that she’s close to everything, including the library, to this day she misses her garden.
When she first moved there she was a bit frustrated. Her unit looks out over a rooftop garden and at the time it was overrun with dandelions and other weeds. Pragmatic and determined as she is, she got her stepstool and climbed over her balcony onto the roof. She would proceed to weed the garden, partly because in her view it was “good exercise” but also because it was something she enjoyed doing and it needed to be done.
She did this for a little while and one neighbor in a unit above her actually lowered a pair of kneepads to her on a string while she was weeding.
“Suddenly I noticed something moving beside me and it was a pair of kneepads!” exclaimed Glover.
Another neighbour, however, reported this intrepid gardener to the strata council. She was asked to stop and stay off the roof. They promised to hire people to tend to the gardens and keep the weeds in check.
When asked what the most significant thing she witnessed in her lifetime, Glover points to surviving the Depression. Her advice for living a long life was equally humble and pragmatic.
She maintains that living simply, eating well and working hard are what made a difference to her. At 100-years-old she takes but one prescription for a thyroid condition!
We suspect that a good sense of humour and the twinkle in her eye have a little something to do with it too!
Happiest of birthdays Gerry Glover! Enjoy your celebration with your family and friends!