These lines were probably in many minds on the afternoon of Wednesday last, January 29th, as the sad news spread through the city that Lady Jessie Coaker had passed suddenly away at 2 o'clock P.M. Only a few hours previous she had entertained some guests in her usual whole-souled way. Stricken suddenly at 4 a.m., despite all that medical aid and loving care could do, a heart attack ended her sufferings at 2 p.m. The shock to her many friends was a severe one, and to her only daughter, Miss Carmine Coaker, the keen sense of loss can only be imagined.
For some years past the deceased lady had suffered from acute arthritis. Eight months of treatment at the General Hospital relieved the condition, however, and she returned home almost her normal self again, having recovered the full use of her limbs. Once more her artistic fingers resumed their accustomed tasks, and further "webs of beauty" were added to those already left in her wake, wherever she moved. In many a household those pieces of perfect handiwork, for which she was famous, will assume a new dearness now that the busy fingers are still in death.
Previous to her stay in hospital, a year or two at Topsail, never revisited for any length of time since the gay and care-free days of her girlhood, seemed to give her a new lease of life. A lover of the beautiful, she never tired of the view from Mrs. Nurse's windows, looking out to sea. She loved the changing lights of dawn and noon and sunset; while short walks in the many byways were a special joy. There, as elsewhere, her city friends flocked to her, and her grace of welcoming was such that they came again, and again.
Born at the Southside, St. John's, on January 22nd, 1871, Jessie Leah Crosbie Cook was the last surviving member of the family of the late Robert and Clementine Cook. On her return from a visit to the U.S.A. in 1901, she married William Ford Coaker, and took up residence at "Coakerville," Green Bay, where her husband had started an extensive farming project. Of this marriage there was born in 1902 one daughter, Camilla Gertrude. A few years of rigors of outport life, coupled with the winter deprivation of those earlier years, soon proved too much for her delicate constitution, and she returned to St. John's, broken in health and spirit, to be nursed slowly back to a semblance of her former self by an aging mother and a devoted sister. With time her personality reasserted itself, and when her daughter graduated from Mount Allison and later Havergal College, Toronto, they took up housekeeping together, and many years of close companionship followed, the devotion and self-sacrifice of the daughter being well repaid in the happiness and contentment that wrapped the mother's declining years.
Of a bright and vivacious disposition, it may be said of Lady Coaker that, all her life, she wore the Red Badge of Courage above a heart that was often torn by the buffetings of fortune; and that she went with a smile on her lips when the road was often rough to her feet. Generous in her nature, she was never happier than when entertaining her friends. Many will regret that the merry little gatherings, over which she presided, can never be the same again, lacking the warm friendliness of her presence.
To the children of the various branches of the family she was "Aunt Jess" - an integral part of their childhood was its memories. Nothing was ever too much for her to do for them, and they loved her accordingly. She lived to see most of them married with children of their own. To these, also, she extended the same warm welcome and kindly interest, and many found an exquisite small garment found its way to them from fingers already stiffening with the years. Now that "Aunt Jess" has passed within the veil, her memory, as well as her many little gifts of love, will be forever haloed, for them, with a little ring of light. "We do ourselves most good doing something for others."
The funeral, which took place on Friday, January 31st, from her late residence, 88 New Avalon Terrace, was largely attended,...