Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jane Blaffer Owen - a spirit that will linger

Jane Blaffer Owen passed away at the age of 95 two weeks ago, on June 21st, 2010 in Houston, Texas. Jane's parents owned Ste. Anne's from 1939 to 1981, when they sold it to my family.  As one of the surviving Blaffer children, Jane was the main contact for her parent's estate for the purposes of this transaction.  I have fond memories of when we lived at Ste. Anne's - known amongst the locals as "The Grafton Castle", hearing stories about the Blaffer family and their annual summer pilgrimage to Canada for their summer vacation, stories that made them seem like an urban legend in my youthful eyes.  Years later I came back to work for my brother Jim who was in the process of transforming Ste. Anne's from a family bed and breakfast into a country inn and spa.  One of my first projects was to help with the co-ordination of a book called The History of Ste. Anne's. In doing the research for the book, the writer we had hired contacted Mrs. Owen to delve into the details surrounding the Blaffer family and their time in Grafton. Jane was kind enough to send us a number of photos of her wedding day at Ste. Anne's back in the 1940's. I too was married at Ste. Anne's, and instantly felt a connection to Jane. I sent her back some photos of my own wedding, not expecting that this "legend" would have the time of day for me.  But she did.
We began corresponding regularly. This contact led to many visits for myself and my family over the years to New Harmony, Indiana, Jane's home away from home.  Her legend status was quickly replaced with a warm respect and love for this woman who silently did so much to enhance all that she touched. She welcomed us with open arms each time we visited her. Jane had a quiet drive and love for life that was absolutely contagious. My children have fond memories of driving on the back of her golf cart, late at night, down the middle of the road. She was fun to be with, she possessed a keen sense of humour and she was an incredibly astute business woman.
I feel so blessed to have known Jane and to have been touched by her. She never judged me, never made me feel 'less than' or silly, she just accepted me - silently.  I like to think that Jane's vision and spirit are at the heart of Ste. Anne's on some kind supernatural level. She was a woman of faith, community, healing and giving - with no pretension, qualities that have become the basic foundations on which Ste. Anne's Spa has been built.  Heaven will be a better place now that Jane is there.  Adieu my friend!
posted by Marijo Corcoran

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