A Photo Tribute Video will be published here very soon. Please check again.
JAN HUME BECKER
December 21, 1931 – March 22, 2023
Our beautiful mother died peacefully on March 22, 2023, with the compassionate support of MAID, and her three children by her side. Connie was 91. Since her heart attack a month earlier, her health had declined, and she knew her quality of life would not be what she could tolerate. She was present and sharp, charming as ever, right up to her passing. Her last moments were spent listening to her favourite operas while sharing memories and love with her children.
Losing your mother is like nothing else, and we will miss her deeply. We were also given the extraordinary gift of a ‘good death’, as we witnessed our mother move through her last weeks with clarity and grace – it was a joy to be with her each day. We had the most wonderful conversations, as we have had for decades, and she chatted playfully with her grandchildren. Our mom had created a wonderfully rich life for herself, and her death was on her own terms.
Connie was born in Reading, PA, in 1931 as the only child of Herman Charles Hume and Julia Edith (White) Hume (daughter to Merton D. White and Pearl Munn White). Connie grew up in Philadelphia and completed nurse training at St. Elizabeth Hospital in New Jersey in 1952. She later returned to Philadelphia to work at Episcopal Hospital and live with her mother Julia, and stepfather, Eddie Taratuski, with whom she maintained a close and loving relationship until his death in 1997. As a very young woman, Connie also spent 9 months in a sanatorium with tuberculosis.
Our mom was an adventurer, and she traveled to places like Haiti and Cuba in the ‘50s, searching out romantic and historical locations to explore that she had read about in novels. Connie was also demanding of herself and others, especially throughout her professional life. She once told us she was fired as a Charge Nurse, after telling a condescending doctor that ‘respect is earned, not demanded’! Of course, she was immediately rehired, she was just so competent.
After falling in love and marrying Gilbert Becker in 1957 (div. 1984), Connie settled down to have a family. Sadly, Connie’s mother Julia died suddenly in January 1962, just as she was preparing to visit Connie after the birth of her first daughter and Julia’s first grandchild, Jan. As a family of three, Connie and Gil then moved to New Orleans, where Marta and Daniel were born. In 1966 they decided to move again to follow a career opportunity for Gil, so in what must have been an epic road trip with three kids under the age of 5, they packed up their Dodge and drove 2,700 km north to the prairie city of Winnipeg, Canada. They bought a house in Ft. Richmond where they raised us 3 kids.
As a mother, Connie was nurturing and committed. She was a wonderful cook and baked special cakes for all our birthdays. As we got older, she was always interested and supportive of our varied pursuits, from the travel and exotic textiles that Jan worked with, Dan’s passion for basketball, as a coach and playing professionally, and Marta’s international adventures and work in global sustainable finance. Mom also set expectations and led by example in a way that will inspire us for years to come. She was a loving and doting grandmother to Niyah, Tanah, Terran, and Kai.
Connie was also an activist and a feminist. She once read the seminal ‘Feminine Mystique’ which apparently changed everything. It could be tough to exit a marriage back then, but while raising us, our mom worked and went back to school to lay a pathway to independence, first earning a Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Manitoba (1974), then a Master of Science Degree (1977) and a PhD in Nursing (1985), both from the University of Texas at Austin. Her doctoral dissertation was on ‘women’s experience giving birth in hospital’ – from a personal and mental health perspective, which was simply not a consideration back then. We are so proud of her. She loved teaching and was an Associate Professor of Nursing at the University of Manitoba until 1984, winning multiple awards and research grants, before then accepting leadership roles at Manitoba Health as the Director, Maternal & Child Health (’84-’90), and the Coordinator of Program Evaluation in 1990 until her retirement in 1997.
After retirement, Connie again pursued her love of travel, with friends or solo, spending weeks or months at a time in far-away places and off the beaten track especially throughout Asia, creating new friendships and perspective over many years. She also visited and travelled with her daughters living in Toronto and Vancouver. At one point, she discovered the beautiful town of Merida on the Yucatan peninsula and spent several winters in Mexico. Always curious, always learning, she still found energy for travel right up until the 2020 Covid-19 restrictions.
Her many other interests included current events (she read 2 newspapers each day), the opera (she kept an extensive collection of DVDs which she shared, organizing opera events in her community), the Fringe Festival theatre, and she was fascinated by traditional bullfighting (!), she cooked beautiful and healthy food from her vast recipe collection (setting a proper place for dinner each evening), she loved good film and novels, and NBA basketball – she was a big Raptors fan! She had an eye for gardening and created a beautiful and colourful garden of flowers and fruit trees at our home growing up, and later helped with all sorts of gardening projects with her kids and friends. She wasn’t afraid of learning new things and worked to stayed abreast of new technologies, including smart phones and new apps, right into her 90’s.
In 2006, Connie moved from her condo in River Heights, to her last home at Fred Douglas Place in downtown Winnipeg, joining a community she truly loved. Friendships solidified over many a bridge game and regular 4pm gin & tonics. She created a beautiful home, carefully decorated and full of art collected from her travels. Connie was generous and welcoming to new neighbours at FDP, and she helped set up projects like local free libraries, seeking out books in 20+ languages, knowing there were new immigrant communities in the neighbourhood that would enjoy them.
Our mom was well known for her extraordinary organizational skills and discipline – she even had a personal trainer at 91! At the same time, and with each passing year, our mom became so much more relaxed, good-humoured, wise, and joyful! We loved and admired our mother so much. She loved her life, her home, her family, and her friends; she had a rich community and few regrets. Her very last words were “I’m so grateful”.
With the support of many hands and hearts, a lovely Celebration of Life was held for Connie at Fred Douglas Place shortly after her passing. A formal service was not held, at Connie’s request. Her family kindly invites friends and family to enjoy the photo-biography above, and to share your own stories, photos, or remembrances in the comments section on this page.
Memories, Stories and Condolences
Please share a story, photo, memory or condolences for the family by completing the form below and click "comment".