The community lost a pillar last week when Jeanette Hughes, 74, died the morning of April 10 after spending two weeks in the Palliative Care Unit at Saanich Peninsula Hospital.
Hughes’ community involvement ranged from spending nine years as a councillor with the Town of Sidney to devoting much of her time volunteering with various organizations including those related to Multiple Sclerosis, which she suffered from.
One of the projects she was most proud of, said her daughter Maureen Wingerter, was the founding of the annual Christmas dinner at the Mary Winspear Centre.
“My mom had a vision to help people who would otherwise be alone at Christmas,” explained Wingerter.
“The Christmas dinner was one of her most cherished community events and she worked an entire year to put it together. She hoped it would continue in the future and wanted to thank all the volunteers who helped her with it over the years.”
Hughes’ involvement with the Town of Sidney didn’t only include time serving as a councillor but also time serving on many committees and boards.
Those included the Advisory Planning Commission and the Town of Sidney Advisory Committee for with Disabilities, something which Sidney Councillor Kenny Podmore recalls her for.
“I knew Jeanette ever since I came to Sidney,” explained Podmore.
“I, like many others drove her to meetings in and around Victoria which were all connected to people with disabilities. Jeanette included me in most of the meetings and I slowly became involved as volunteer as well. I ended up serving with her on the Town Of Sidney Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities and never ceased to be amazed with her enthusiasm. Even though Jeanette herself had her own health issues, she never let it hold her back. She was a true inspiration to others and she will be sadly missed,” said Podmore.
Hughes was also known for her work with the Vancouver Island Library Board, the Sidney Sister Cities Association and she was the recipient of Hearts of the Community Volunteer Award and the Leadership Victoria Alumni Award, both in 2012.
“She was the most amazing woman to pass through the Town of Sidney in the last 30 years,” said long time friend of Hughes, Laurel McIntyre. “No one could hold a candle to her.”
Hughes’ family said they are planning to donate her specially modified van to the Mary Winspear Centre so that it can be used to help others with disabilities.
Sidney Classical Orchestra, another organization Hughes was involved in, will be dedicating their concert on April 19 to her.
Hughes’ funeral is scheduled for Saturday, April 20 at 10 a.m. at the Mary Winspear Center. Her book titled Wilderness Dream, will be available at the reception after the funeral. Proceeds will be donated to a Sidney-based charity.