Jean McDonald, a Catholic school trustee for 24 years, was a strong advocate for Catholic education who wanted every student to know their faith. She was also known as a woman of deep faith with a strong love for family, community and the world around her.
"She was an amazing person. She knew almost everyone in the Catholic school system," recounted former trustee Simone Demers, who served as trustee for six years in the 1980s.
"She knew the teachers, she knew how the system worked and she was very committed to Catholic education."
McDonald, a woman of intellect, fortitude and integrity, died peacefully Nov. 30 with family by her side. She was 90.
"There was a wisdom about her, about making decisions, making sure it was the right decision for the Catholic community," recounted Demers, who considered McDonald as her mentor on the school board.
"I respected her very much because she served for so long and she cared and she did listen to the people.
"I'll remember her as a woman of faith who gave herself in service to the community."
Born in Riviere Qui Barre, McDonald was one of five children born to pioneers Alex and Elizabeth McGillis.
She was educated at a normal school and taught in Edson before completing her bachelor of education at the University of Alberta.
In 1952 she married her husband Bill and they went on to raise their large family. In addition to serving on the Catholic school board for 24 years, McDonald was a member of the Catholic Women's League for 60 years.
She was a strong proponent of education and the advancement of women. In her spare time, she enjoyed bridge, travelling and gardening.
"She certainly was a strong advocate of Catholic education," recalls her friend and neighbour retired senator Douglas Roche.
"She wanted the Second Vatican Council to be developed into the curriculum so Catholic students would be better formed in the values of the Church as expressed in the Second Vatican Council."
Added Roche, who was a neighbour of McDonald for 47 years: "I always had the highest respect for Jean. I would say that she was a formidable woman. She was very well informed and had strong opinions that had a very strong ethical base."
A funeral service for McDonald was held Dec. 5 at Assumption Church.