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.
Vernas gentleness, determination and courage were an inspiration
to us all. She will be greatly missed by her friends and teachers in the