Love is a beautiful and unexplainable thing, and it often defies logic, sometimes in heartbreaking ways.
Such is the case with the love shared between Jean and George Spear.
The couple met in the midst of the turmoil of World War II. It was 1941. Jean was an 18-year-old English firefighter and air raid warden. George was a 21-year-old soldier from Canada.
When George spotted Jean from across the room, he was instantly smitten.
“I was there in a red dress, my husband will tell you, and he came over and asked me to dance,” Jean recalled. “He had his army boots on, but he could dance. And his rhythm was perfect. So we didn’t dance with anyone else the whole evening.”
The lovebirds had a whirlwind romance and married the next year.
Speaking of the tumultuous time, Jean said, “When you met a boy, you made the most of every moment because you just didn’t know when or if you’d meet again. There was a stimulation about it, a wonderful, wonderful excitement that is hard to describe and hard to understand if you weren’t there. The worry sharpened your senses.”
After the wedding, George returned to Canada and then made secret arrangements to have Jean brought over by the Red Cross in a naval convoy. The couple eventually welcomed daughter Heather in 1947 and son Ian in 1950.
About a year after moving to Canada, Jean helped found the SWIC (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Canada) club for war brides. For her service, she was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006.
On August 22, the couple celebrated their 75th anniversary. In that time together they created an incredible legacy.
Sadly, just a couple weeks later, Jean developed pneumonia. She was admitted to the Queensway Carleton Hospital in Ottowa, Ontario, on Tuesday, September 12. The next day, George spoke to his bride on the phone.
Then something happened that left their family stunned. On Thursday, September 14, George fell into a deep sleep. When they couldn’t wake him, he was taken to the same hospital his wife was in.
At 4:30 a.m. on Friday, September 15, Jean quietly passed away. Just a few hours later, at 9:45 a.m., George followed her into eternity.
Their family was stunned and heartbroken.
“We tell stories to make ourselves feel better. But this defies any sort of logic,” said daughter Heather. “We were overwhelmed by the suddenness of it.”
As much as they miss their parents, though, Heather and Ian know they left this world in the same way they lived in it – together.
In 2011, Jean and George were invited to a private reception in Ottowa with Prince William and Duchess Catherine. During the event, George showed Kate a photograph of Jean from 1942, which he had kept tucked into his soldier’s beret during the war.
“Kate asked if I had always kept the photo and I replied, ‘All through the war and ever since,’” George recalled.
When asked about the secret to their wedded bliss after all their years together, Jean gave an answer that will serve as an inspiration to many today who hope to have a love like theirs:
“I’ve taken a lot of time to consider it,” she said. “I realized when we met that we were on to a good thing. When we got married, we thought we were in heaven. Throughout our lives, the ups and downs, we know that together, we are a good thing. We recognize it and have never failed to acknowledge it.”
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