We Remember

LEIPER, Jean Marion

Celebrate with us the life of Jean Marion Leiper who died in Kelowna November 12, 2019 at the age of 90.  Daughter of Lillian (Polley) and Lawrence Leiper, Jean was born in Vancouver. Close family members are sister Carol Leiper of Philadelphia, PA and cousin Christopher and wife Kristal Polley of Kelowna.

Jean attended UBC graduating with a Bachelor of Physical Education in 1951.Twenty-five years later in 1976, she received a PhD from the University of Alberta studying the development of Olympism.  Part of her work included six months in Lausanne at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee offices reading and translating minutes relating to the emergence of the modern games.

In between those years she taught high school physical education for 6 years, and then returned to the State University of Iowa to receive a Masters degree where she wrote a physical education curriculum for small elementary schools in Western Canada.  In 1963 Jean moved to the University of Calgary where she remained until 1988 retiring as a full professor.

Through her study of the Olympic movement Dr. Leiper developed a great love for Greece.  For several years she organized a summer study abroad course for students to spend 2 weeks in Greece learning about the historical sites and attending the International Olympic Academy at Olympia. Jean was also one of the few women invited to address the Academy at that time.

Dr. Leiper was instrumental in setting up the Olympic Academy of Canada in 1983 and in 1986 she became the first recipient of the Order of the Olympic Academy of Canada.

Because of her knowledge of Olympism she was selected to advise CTV on the flame lighting ceremony in Greece for the 1988 Winter Olympics.  When the flame lighting was televised, Dr. Leiper was one of the anchors explaining the ceremony to Canadian viewers.  She was also one of the torch bearers in Calgary.  In 2010 one of her former students was the organizer of the torch relay for the Vancouver Olympics and he made sure Jean was a torch bearer since her enthusiasm had inspired him to become involved.

Jean also was involved with the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. Between 1983 -85 the memorabilia were stored in her basement.  In 1985 Dr. Leiper was instrumental in getting Petro Canada to donate display and office space in their building in Calgary.  At that time she was Chairman of the ASHF standing committee.

In spite of all these activities, Dr. Leiper most enjoyed teaching and interacting with students.

After retirement Jean moved to Peachland, BC and spent winters in Palm Desert.  Her love of sports and the ability to watch so much on television sustained her as she became more frail and unable to travel.  As per Jean’s wishes cremation has taken place and no memorial service will be held. If you wish to send a condolence, post photos or share a memory, please scroll down the page to the area called “Condolences”.

If you knew and admired Jean, please support the organization Right to Play.  This organization provides the opportunity for children who are under privileged, refugees or in war torn areas to play games.  righttoplay.ca.


Share with Others:

Share on Facebook
Share Via Email

Right to Play Link: righttoplay.ca




  • Lisa Kortje & Rick Miller, Peachland says:

    My heartfelt condolences to you, Carol, Chris and Kristal. Although we only knew Jean for a few years, we really enjoyed her company. She was a lively spirit and a great story-teller. She will be missed by many. May she rest in peace

  • Karen Gunnlaugson says:

    My sincere condolences to Jean’s family. It was my pleasure to do Jean’ hair and have our weekly visits prior to her move to Kelowna, although Jean came once a month after and it was always good to see her. Jean was a spirited lady with strong convictions. She loved Susie and her Blue Jays as well as many other sports. She lived a good long life ,but had been suffering for awhile without complaints that was “Jean. May you Rest In Peace

  • Maggie brooks says:

    Deepest condolences , Karen or I I took care of her gorgeous white hair for many years . She was always a cherished client . We will miss her engaging conversations.

  • Sharon and Patrick McIntosh says:

    We were neighbours for 24 years in Peachland and always enjoyed our chats. Our sincere condolences to Carol and family.

  • Karen & Rick Kaminski says:

    We still look for Jean and Susie to walk by our house. She was an amazing strong and independent woman. Our condolences to her family.

  • Robert S. (Bob) Wilson says:

    My condolences to her family. I remember cousin Jean as a bright, vivacious, lady.

  • Sheena and David Bean says:

    Although we haven’t seen Jean since she moved to Kelowna, we did “meet” on the phone regularly if not often. We were happy that she never lost her lively spirit in spite of not being in good health. She will be missed by people all over the world as she made friends far and near being a good friend and a kind and honest person. We are very sorry for your loss, Carol.

  • Sherri Collins says:

    I met Jean just in the last year of her life. She came to live in the same resident as my parents. We shared a few meals together as she often sat with them for meals. Each time I would come to visit I would find her and her beloved Susie out in the grounds enjoying a walk or a sit on the bench for some fresh air. I was very sad to hear of Jean’s recent passing. I miss seeing her and Susie. It was so nice to read about her interesting life here. She made an impact and she will be missed and remembered. Condolences to her family and of course to Miss Susie. Godspeed Jean.

  • Peter Reichenbach says:

    I am so sorry to hear of the death of my old friend and colleague from the University of Calgary days!
    Jean and I were both on staff at the University of Alberta at Edmonton and then we both moved to the U of C in Calgary to help get the Phys Ed course up and going on that campus under the leadership of Lou Goodwin. We remained friends and colleagues for ten years until I returned to Australia in 1973. She was always so full of life and a very good professional in our field. With my condolences to her family,
    Peter Reichenbach, Melbourne Australia

Leave a Condolence Message for the Family

» To share your condolence on this page please fill out the requested fields.
» If you have a photo to share, please do so as families appreciate it. To share a photo (please note, just one photo per condolence please), click the 'Choose File' button and select a photo from your computer.
» Once you are done, click the 'Share' button.
» Your email is never published or shared. Your name and email are both required.

NOTE: all messages will go through an administrative process before being posted.