Man makes lasting donation on behalf of late wife
GOLDEN LAKE – It is quite evident that Roger Jones has a profound love for his late wife Vera.
Childhood and wedding photos of Vera adorn the mantel of the Jones’ handmade house overlooking Golden Lake. A large glass case containing dozens of Royal Doulton Figurines – his late wife’s favourite – are displayed for all to see. Roger still cherishes a tin box containing ringlets of Vera’s hair, cut at the precious age of six.
The love story begins decades ago, when Deep River native Vera Elizabeth (née Hawke) caught the attention of Roger, the son of a seamstress and carpenter from Pembroke. They dated for six years before he decided to pop the question.
“She was very easy to get along with,” Roger, 75, said. “If you couldn’t get along with her you were too darn fussy. And you know what she would say, instead of saying a bad thing about them? That they’re different. She would never say a bad word about anybody.”
Life was not easy for Vera – she was born with a heart condition that caused complications during her early years.
“Before we even went together, she would tell me that she wouldn’t last that long, because she had an enlarged heart,” he said.
But that did not matter to Roger. He was in love. The couple was married October 7, 1961 in Deep River, by a minister from Pembroke. Roger recalled it was a rather large wedding, and the reception was held at the nearby legion.
“Was it warm? You want to believe it – it was 85 degrees in the shade,” he said.
In the years to follow, Vera had given birth to three boys, all of whom currently live in Clayton, Ontario.
Roger had originally wanted to be a carpenter, but gave that dream up due to a dust allergy. Throughout his life, he worked with heavy equipment in places like Chalk River, Ottawa and Almonte.
When it came time to retire, Roger and Vera relocated to the family cottage on Golden Lake.
“After I retired, I looked after her,” Roger said. “I told her, ‘you looked after raising all the kids, bringing them to hockey games,’ so it was my turn.”
In 2003, Roger, being the handyman that he is, started designing a unique fish hut. It certainly was not for himself.
“No, I never fished,” he said.
He told Vera that he wanted to donate it somewhere but had not made up his mind.
Vera eventually developed diabetes, and the Joneses had several scares throughout the later years in her life. She went into a diabetic coma several times and was rushed to St. Francis Memorial Hospital in Barry’s Bay. It was there that the family acquired the services from family physician Jason Malinowski.
Roger had to put the fish hut construction on hold to take care of his beloved wife. But he had told her that he had made up his mind on a beneficiary and wanted to make the donation to St. Francis.
“I said, we got to give it to that family,” he said referring to the hospital. “It’s like a family, you are not just a person, you are part of a family.”
Sadly, Vera passed away February 11, 2006, just a few weeks shy of her 70th birthday.
This story continues in the January 12 issue of The Valley Gazette.