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November 23, 2000 In Memoriam: Verna James Savary




Verna James Savary, an Honours student in the Department of English, died on October 18 of complications from her long struggle with lupus. She had completed two thirds of the program.

She was a strong and fiercely determined woman who, despite her blindness and other obstacles, kept working towards her degree. She did not walk through life; she strode through it, sometimes leaving us in her wake.

Verna was originally from Trinidad, and worked much of her life as a nurse in Britain and Canada. A great storyteller, she was creative and humorous, with a wonderful, deep laugh.

Sometimes she would share warm homemade bread that she had just removed from the oven, or good-naturedly explain to an instructor the advantages of using professional mechanical pencils to annotate her essays.

At the same time, she was sensitive about literature, and could get quite passionate, for instance, about the complexities of symbols or complex metaphors in a poem. She was very serious about her studies, and she did not consider her lack of vision to be a handicap.

Verna was honest and straightforward, a person of enormous presence. She seldom minced words, yet she was always ready to look for the good in people, to try to understand them, even when they were less than patient with her, or less than kind to her. A devout person, she ended every conversation, without exception, with the phrase “God bless.”

Verna’s gentleness, determination and courage were an inspiration to us all. She will be greatly missed by her friends and teachers in the English Department.