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Jean McLean

Rhody Family Funeral Home

Jean Myrtle was born in Chesley on Thursday, July 2, 1925. Her parents were Charles and Magdeline “Lena” (Nuhn) Lettau. She was delivered at home, in the white house that sat just south of Elgin Abbey. Jean was the sixth of seven children and joined older siblings Ruby, Pearl, Stan, Elmer and Bill with younger brother Allan arriving a couple of years later. At that time Charles provided for his family by working at Krug’s sawmill.

Jean attended Chesley Public School and later Chesley District High School where she graduated from grade 12. Given the times, this was quite an accomplishment and something to be proud of. While the children were still young, the Lettau family moved to the opposite side of town and settled on the dairy farm on the southwest edge of Chesley. After milking the cows, they pasteurized and bottled milk and cream which they then delivered door to door in town. Given the farm’s proximity to the railway and the tough times for many during the Depression, there was a constant flow of men helping out at the farm for a meal or to help pay for milk for their families.

Jean met her future husband, Neil Struthers McLean, on a blind date. It was during the war and Neil’s father had asked the army to send one of his sons home to help with the farm. The young couple were wed on Friday, April 27, 1945 at Jean’s parents’ home. Shortly after, Neil and Jean purchased a 100 acre farm on Bruce Rd. 11 between Chesley and Paisley. The purchase price… $5,500 – yes, you read that right! And that included all livestock and household furniture too! The newlyweds operated a mixed farm before transitioning to stocker cattle in the mid 1960’s. Who knew in those early years that Jean would spend the next 78 years of her life on that farm, only moving off of it at the age of 97, and living on her own after Neil’s passing in 2005.

Jean loved life on the farm and never shied away from hard work. She was a farmer through and through and was forced into action when Neil suffered a crushed ankle in a farm accident in 1948. Most days started with her throwing on her coveralls and heading out to help with feeding the cattle. She also took great pride in caring for and driving their tractors. Jean loved tractor work and was always in a happy place when out on the land.

Ross and Linda were welcomed in the 1950’s and were introduced to everything farm life had to offer. Although neither of them took up farming, they, along and their spouses, lived close by and enjoyed supporting Jean and Neil on the farm. This was particularly the case, in more recent years, when Ross, Brenda, Linda and Jamie, extended family, and kind neighbours worked with Jean, to support her desire to live independently and remain on the farm. Phone calls, cards, and visits from her nieces and nephews often brightened her days as she kept up, to the very end, with the news around her and, ever importantly, the state of the weather.

Grandchildren were a delight to Jean and the farm became a second home to the children as they grew up. Together, with Neil, they introduced the grandchildren to everything life on the farm had to offer. Countless stories and memories were created during this time period, and thankfully these memories will last a lifetime. In addition to enjoying life on the farm, Jean and Neil thoroughly enjoyed following their grandchildren and their activities, rarely missing a sporting event or special occasion.

Jean loved the outdoors and preferred to be outside rather than confined within four walls. In addition to all the regular outdoor chores on the farm, Jean enjoyed maintaining a large vegetable garden, as well as flower beds, well into her 90’s. After weeding and watering her garden, Jean loved to relax in a lawn chair watching, day by day, as the fruits of her labour grew. When outdoors, Jean also loved spending time with her beloved pets. As you can imagine, there were many dogs and cats that called the farm home through the years, and she enjoyed every one of them! Although preferring life at home, Jean and Neil ventured out on occasion and experienced much of Canada and the US, by car, through the 70’s and 80’s. Back at home, Jean enjoyed baking, with cookies being a staple, and there was rarely an occasion where the radio, particularly AM 920, wasn’t keeping her company. In recent years, she enjoyed passing the time with wordsearches and took great satisfaction in mending socks. She would spend hours on end with her darning needle in hand keeping herself busy.

Jean was a hardworking, independent woman who enjoyed spending time with her family. She was intelligent and perseverant and used these admirable traits to help forge a livelihood for her and Neil on the farm. Simply put, Jean was at peace when at home, enjoying her small piece of paradise.

Sadly, Jean was hospitalized last summer, and unable to return home. She was lovingly supported by family and friends, and soon called the Hanover Care Centre home. It was here that Jean passed away on Saturday, January 27, 2024, in her 99th year.

Loving mother of Ross (Brenda) McLean of Chesley and Linda (Jamie) Reaburn of Palmerston. Cherished grandmother of Neil (Christine) McLean, Craig McLean (Rachel McInnis), Gavin (Jaime) McLean, Matthew McLean, Kyle Reaburn (Sonya Stadus-Soo), and Chloe Reaburn (Alec Holla) and great-grandmother of Cael, Brock, Claire, Gray, Mason, Wells and Rozlyn. Jean was predeceased by her husband Neil (2005), siblings Ruby Kirkwood, Pearl Graper, Stan Letteau, Elmer Lettau, Bill Lettau and Allan Lettau, and her parents Charles and Lena (Nuhn) Lettau.

Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Friday, February 2, 2024, from 1 p.m. until the time of the funeral service at 2 p.m. Spring interment in Chesley Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Chesley Hospital Foundation would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.

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