We Remember

STEWART, Betty Jean (née Ross)

July 13, 1933 — September 9, 2020

In the early hours of Wednesday, September 9, 2020, our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, auntie and friend left us peacefully to begin her journey into her next life.

Jean was a force to be reckoned with, a woman of fierce beauty and dignity, a holder and sharer of strong opinions, a believer in every kind of education and most importantly, the devoted matriarch to our lucky family. Family was the core of Jean’s life – her love for her family and pride for all of their accomplishments oozed out of her as she updated you on everyone’s comings and goings. She had a large family, but she never failed to keep up with what was happening in each of our lives.

Her legacy will be proudly carried by her children: Colleen (Paul) Mulvihill, Danny (Alexis) Stewart, Sandra (Mike) Bjarnason, Kate Stewart, Jennifer Stewart, and Julie (Dave) Crawford; her grandchildren: Shannon Mulvihill (Alex Lyons), Kelsey Mulvihill & Rebecca Mulvihill, Carter (James) Helliwell & Nate (Sarah) Stewart, Harmony Bjarnason (Tom Stow), Devon Bjarnason (Shelly Seib) & Amy Bjarnason (Paul Mancell), Sophia Stewart (Tom Durham) & Lili Stewart, Alisha Antisin (Aaron Luprypa) & Dion Antisin and Janis Crawford (Will Greet-Hillier), Monica Crawford & Nicole Crawford; her great-grandchildren: Jocelyn & Carys Lyons, Georgia, Harrison & Rupert Helliwell, Calista & Quinton Stow and Victoria & Michaela Mancell; her brothers: Don (Shirley) and Ken (Barbie) Ross; her sister-in-law Rosemary Stewart, as well as many nephews and nieces.

Jean was predeceased by her husband, W W (Bill) Stewart; and her sister, Gladys Ross.

Jean was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan on July 13, 1933 to George and Florence Ross. In 1936 the family moved west to Vancouver, BC and in 1945 they settled in Kelowna. Jean attended Kelowna High School and sang in the St Michael’s and All Angels choir. In 1949 Jean was crowned Lady of the Lake.

On November 1, 1950, she married Bill Stewart and in 1952 they welcomed their first child. That was the beginning of her lifelong mission to raise strong, kind, independent, feminist, principled children and grandchildren. She believed it took a community to raise a child and she made sure she was part of that community.

Jean was a Master Duplicate Bridge player, playing weekly with her bridge clubs for many decades. She was a prolific canner with a pantry brimming with canned fruit and homemaker’s relish. Jean had a passion for garage sales, for reading, for Hawaii and for movies, especially musicals. Her love of music and dance was something she shared with others through her life – singing with the Kinette choir, encouraging her children and grandchildren to learn an instrument or take up dancing, teaching herself the ukulele so she could sing her beloved Hawaiian songs, singing nursery rhymes with faraway grandbabies on the phone and starting sing-a-longs at family gatherings – music was one of Jean’s languages.

Jean made a lasting impression on everyone she met. If you were lucky enough to spend time with Jean trading stories, having a philosophical conversation, learning about make up and self-care, sharing a cup of tea and a cookie, singing, or just experiencing the feisty tenacity that made her our beloved Mama, you probably still remember your visit.

Jean celebrated her family’s accomplishments; she shared her wisdom; she took the time to learn about each person’s individual personality and interests. She was always ready with a hug or a back rub, a cup of tea or a delicious meal, some advice or just some company. Jean cherished her family, with a special place in her heart for her crown jewels – her darling grandchildren and great-grandchildren – all of whom were her “favourite.”

Jean’s strong legacy of family will carry on. She will always be with us in the love we share, the stories we tell and the way we live our lives. Her grandchildren will tell you that her reminders that cousin-friends are the best friends was one of the best gifts she gave them.

The family would like to extend a special thank you to Jean’s wonderful caregivers: primary caregiver and devoted companion Carol Van den Ende, niece Lisa (Ross) Dube, Sheila Marshall, Maria Fugedi, Stacey Lalonde and Amanda Banman.

Donations in Jean’s memory can be made to Kelowna Women’s Shelter, Box 20193, RPO Town Centre, Kelowna, BC, the Stewart Brothers Nurseries and W W (Bill) and Jean Stewart Family Award Fund at www.okanagancollegefoundation.ca or a charity of your choice.

Due to Covid-19 Jean’s Celebration of Life will be a private family affair by invitation only.  The family would like to invite all who wish to view the service to join by Livestream on Saturday, September 19, 2020 at 10:00 am.  (See below)

If you wish to send a condolence, post photos or share a memory please scroll down the page to the area called “Condolences”.


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Kelowna Women's Shelter; Stewart Brothers Nurseries and W W (Bill) and Jean Stewart Family Award Fund Link: kelownawomensshelter.ca/give-help/donate-now, www.okanagancollegefoundation.ca




  • Brenda Stewart says:

    Jean was a true matriarch. She raised a wonderful family, all of whom are special people. It was my pleasure to know Jean for many years and I offer condolences to the entire family.

  • Erika says:

    I was lucky enough to have Jean as part of my childhood. My thoughts and love to all her family during this time.
    Love Erika

  • Shauna Bakala says:

    Dear Stewart family,, I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your wonderful beautiful mother. There never was time that she did not make me feel welcome and loved she truly was a breath of fresh air and very much adored. My sincere condolences. Shauna Bakala

  • Barb Carpenter says:

    So very sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. She will live on in your wonderful memories and in the knowledge and love she instilled in all of you. Barb Carpenter

  • Kelly Ross says:

    To the entire Family, Jean was a Force. She loved so wholly. This obituary brought tears to my eyes with truth and beauty. Aunty Jean will be missed. Much love to all, Kelly and Family

  • Stacey Lalonde says:

    My heartfelt sympathies go out to all of Jean’s family at this time. It was a gift to be able to care for her, spend time watching movies together, and get to know her. She gave strong but good advice, whether I asked for it or not, including my lack of lipstick…and I appreciated it because she cared and wanted me to look my best. When she met my son one time, she asked about him for several visits afterwards, and she always enquired how I had slept or if I had had enough to eat that day. Jean’s strength was inspiring, and her wit remarkable. Her love of family came through with stories and photos that she would point out to me, and she gave me the appreciation of old movies. I delighted in her singing and foot tapping during the musicals; then we would have a discussion about it afterwards. She was so interesting to talk to and be with; I enjoyed my time with her and feel so fortunate for the opportunity. Once COVID hit, I missed being with her very much. I still miss her but wonderful memories remain.

  • Cruz and Carlos Costa says:

    To the Stewart family so sorry to hear about your mom passing. my condolences to the entire family.

  • Dixie Shirreff says:

    Deepest condolences to the Stewart family. A great loss. My thoughts are with you all.

  • Lana ehman says:

    Kate, Shelley and I are so sorry to hear about your amazing mom’s passing. Feel her hugs all around you as your guardian angel 💗💗💗

  • Anne and Garry Mancell says:

    …so sorry for your loss of this wonderful matriarch…her legacy lives on in her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren…strong, kind, talented individuals who have a strong sense of family…it was an honour to meet her on occasion and to share in her values through our lovely daughter-in-law, Amy Bjarnason, and her family…

  • Duncan & Debbie Robinson says:

    We send our deepest sympathies to all of Jean’s family.

  • Monica Topliff says:

    To the Stewart family;
    I was so saddened to hear of your lovely Mothers passing …the obituary truly moved me. Over the years I would go and visit Jean ( with Kate ) and we would laugh and laugh.
    Along with the many questions ( about everything) and advice (also about everything 🙂 Jean always made me feel a little better about everything !
    Xo Monica

  • Oli (Daum) Cosgrove says:

    Jean was my first friend when we moved to Kelowna in 1947. We had much in common, including voice lessons from Mrs.Kilbohm, retired from the Metropolitan Opera living in Kelowna for health reasons. Jean was a rare, extraordinarily rich contraltro who would have made it big time in opera so I, a run-of-the-mill mezzo soprano, was aghast when she chose marriage over a career. We lost touch after high school graduation until it’s 50th anniversary in 2001. She didn’t attend but sent a note in case I was there, asking me to contact her. I did, and we took up where we’d left off – both now avid bridge players, same outlook on life, same philosophy, same reading tastes,, even though she chose family over career and I went the opposite way. I visited her a couple of times in Victoria, we went on an Alaskan cruise., and kept in touch by phone. In all our years, she never changed from the feisty, humorous, intellectual I first met in 1947,, but she’d added a feather to her cap; She talked about her family with so much love I could feel it too. When I last saw her in Kelowna several years ago,
    she was still the irrepressible Jean, In subsequent phone calls, I noticed a change coming on. Dear Jean, I will miss you;
    you really are one in a million, and I extend my deepest condolences to her family. You were so blessed to be her family.
    I was so blessed to know her.

  • Don and Jean Wickett says:

    Our heartfelt condolences in your great loss. Remember the priceless lessons she lived her life by and passed along to all generations. May Strength, Comfort and Peace be yours in this time of sadness.

  • David and Madeleine Crawford says:

    We were so saddened to hear of Jean’s passing,it seemed so sudden.
    She was such a talented,smart lady.
    We know how much she cared for all of you,as you did for her.
    Our thoughts and love are with all of you.
    David and Madeleine Crawford

  • Mellinda Cook (Baumann) says:

    Sending my heartfelt condolences to all family and friends of Mama Jean. May the cherished memories soften the present sadness, I adore the memories of Jean throughout my childhood years in Green Bay. ~~~ride high on the wings of angels and sing your heart out with the divine orchestra bella Jean~~~ <3.

  • Brian and Tiki Mulvihill says:

    Jean always welcomed us as one of her own. She was a special person in our lives. Our condolences

  • Mickey Perkins says:

    It was a privilege to know and count Jean as a friend. What a wonderful woman. The tributes from her family show the love she shared and received in return. My condolences to the entire family. Love, Mickey

  • Laura & Brian Jones says:

    Our hearts go out to all of the Stewart’s and the Ross’s during this time. Jean was a truly remarkable woman, loved, honoured, respected, admired and valued by those she encountered. Her love for her family was evident in her actions, her words and her teachings. I loved hearing stories about her from Julie, Dave, Janis, Monica and Nicole. I can only begin to imagine the void that will be felt by her loved ones. I am grateful I had a chance to get to meet her over the years.
    Laura and Brian Jones

  • Hylton Stewart McAlister says:

    What a beautiful celebration of Jean’s life. She was clearly adored and respected by all. I loved the story about Jean telling her grandkids not to go to the beach because there had been an earthquake in Chile. I also loved the untold story how, shortly after moving to Arbutus Ridge, Jean received on Valentine’s Day a very discreet card from a secret admirer who did not want to be identified; likely an OAP living at the Ridge who clearly was smitten with her. Jean’s enthusiastic response to receiving an anonymous “be my valentine” card was one of genuine excitement and childlike curiosity.
    I was so, so sorry to hear of her sudden passing. I know the Stewart clan is a very close knit family of caring people and this kindness extends beyond the family into the community. And Jean played a huge part in this by teaching her children to be nice people and respectful of others, regardless of their differences. Her teachings will pass from generation to generation. And that is a good thing!
    To all the Stewarts and especially to my dear Lady J, Alisha and Dion, I share your grief.
    Love to you all

  • Rushpal Jhaj says:

    Dear Stewart family,
    I spent a lot of time with Jean during my childhood. It was truly a honor to have known such an insightful, powerful, & intellectual person. My condolences to the entire family. Love, Rushpal ( Avtar’s daughter )

  • Libby coulthard says:

    Dear Stewart family ,another beautiful Stewart soul wafted up to the heavens,my sincere condolences at such a painful and difficult time xoxox thinking of you all
    Libby Coulthard

  • Cheryl McNaughton says:

    To all the Stewart family,
    So saddened to hear of Jean’s passing. She was a force to be reckoned with, and touched so many lives with her words of wisdom, and her kind ways. I know this has left a hole in all your hearts, but her wonderful memories live on in each of you to cherish forever.
    Sending love and sincere condolences,
    Cheryl McNaughton and Alex Fong

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