Joan Brien died peacefully on April 21, 2023, just 3 days after her 83rd birthday, at Kings Way Care Centre in Quispamsis, NB, surrounded by her family. She had only spent 3 weeks at this centre after waiting in hospital 7 months for a placement.
She was raised in Saint John, the daughter of Neil and Ada Sullivan. She graduated from St. Vincent's High School and Saint John Vocational School.
After a short time doing office work, she married her high school sweetheart Royden, who was just finishing teacher's college. The family, which now included a son Ken, started the first year of Royden’s teaching career in Canterbury, NB. This career extended for 36 years and included 3 provinces and 2 countries.
After Canterbury the family moved on to Chateauguay, Quebec, and added another son Steven and spent a total of 9 years in Quebec. Royden also received a 2-year assignment with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) at Montego Bay Technical Institute, Jamaica.
A return to Canada took the family to Stratford, Ontario, and a teaching assignment for Royden at Central Secondary School. In 1975 Joan decided to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. After graduation from nursing school, she worked for 18 years as a psychiatric nurse at Stratford General Hospital, retiring with her husband in 1996.
Post-retirement activities included a number of mission trips to Guatemala, first with Missionary Ventures and then with Volunteer Optometry Services to Humanity (VOSH).
Joan worked with the medical teams while Royden worked on construction. With Royden's membership and experience with Lions International he recognized the need for eye care in this developing country. Over the next couple of years an eye team was assembled that included optometrists and technicians. Joining with VOSH we obtained access to eye surgeons who could perform cataract procedures near the mountain villages in northern Guatemala.
We became “Team Canada Travel Team” that went to the outlying villages to fit eyeglasses and identify patients that required surgery. Joan was part of the dispensing and fitting team. Patients requiring surgery were transported to a temporary clinic while a hospital was being built by the VOSH group in the area. We were invited to the opening of the hospital several years later and were pleased and honoured to see the names Joan Brien and Royden Brien with others on a large wall plaque as benefactors of the new hospital.
Post retirement also included snowbird trips to spend the winter in Sebring, Florida, where we were able to reconnect with our dear friends from Montego Bay, Jamaica. These trips lasted for some 20 years before they were interrupted by COVID and Alzheimer’s.
Joan is survived by her husband of 63 years Royden, sons Ken and Steve (Dina), grandchildren Max (Samantha), Hayley (Keegan), Myles (Kayla), and Logan, great-grandchildren Loke and Stella, sister Marjorie, niece Susan (Paul), brothers-in-law George and Gordon (Wendy), and sisters-in-law Frances and Phyllis. She was predeceased by her parents Neil and Ada Sullivan, her father-in-law Roy and mother-in-law Pearl, her brothers Neil and Jack, her brothers-in-law Blair, Don, Ralph, Robert, and Karl, her sisters-in-law Shirley and Noreen, nephew Alan (Debbie), and great-granddaughter Hazel.
Many thanks must go to Dr. Sarah Thompson at Seniors Mental Health for her help and guidance, staff at the 5th and 8th floors at St. Joe's Hospital, and the staff at Kings Way Centre for their comfort and care for Joan.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to:
Canadian Mental Health Association of NB
Alzheimer Society of NB
The funeral service will be held at All Saints’ Anglican Church, Clifton Royal, on Saturday, Apr. 29, 2023, at 2:00 PM. We will receive friends and family starting at 1:00 PM. There will be a reception after the service in the All Saints’ church hall.