Stettler Deputy Mayor Gord Lawlor congratulates Jean Chapman on her 100th birthday. (Photo contributed)

Stettler resident turns 100

Daughter recounts stories of her mother’s life

By Emily Jaycox

For the Independent

Points West Living Stettler resident Jean (Handyside) Chapman celebrated turning 100 years old on Friday, Nov. 16, surrounded by family and friends.

The occasion was marked by cupcakes and balloons, as well as some significant recognition.

As a new centenarian, Chapman received letters of congratulations from Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as the governor general and lieutenant governor.

Mayor Sean Nolls called but was unable to attend.

Deputy Mayor Gord Lawlor came and presented Chapman with a framed certificate recognizing her years of community service.

“I was touched by their willingness to come and honour my mother,” said Ruth Fortems, Chapman’s daughter, adding they both expressed genuine caring for every citizen of Stettler.

Chapman was born on a farm just south of Erskine in 1918 and moved to Stettler when she was 20-years-old and has been here ever since, according to Fortems.

She worked as a nanny for a few years, before meeting and marrying her husband Frank Chapman in 1942.

RELATED: Stettler centenarian has lived her life ‘as I wanted’

Chapman has four grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

She served as a Sunday school teacher at the Stettler United Church, as well as a member of the board.

She was active in the ladies’ auxiliary until she was 90.

Chapman was active in the Stettler Home and School Association and was a member of the Stettler Recreation Board, for which she received a long service award.

She was a volunteer with the Handibus Association, and Fortmes jokes that her mother was often arranging rides for people younger than herself.

Chapman was also an active canvasser for causes such as the Red Cross, cancer research and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Chapman was an avid walker right up until turning 99 years old, says Fortems.

Fortems recalled a young group of moms her mother used to walk with on her hour-long excursions around the trails in Stettler.

“She told me how much she delighted in it because it reminded her of her own young years.”

Even though all but one lady has since moved away, for years, they would get together in Red Deer for a walk and spa day or lunch.

Fortems recalls when her mother, then 65, suddenly decided to overcome her fear of water and tried water skiing for the first time.

Family members cheered as she did a gentle loop around the Rochon Sands bay at Buffalo Lake.

The event shows her indomitable spirit, says Fortems.

Fortems describes her mother as “forever cheerful, never complaining, and always positive.”

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Jean Chapman with her granddaughter Laura, and Laura’s husband Spencer Swainson and their children, from left. Gemma, Byron, Lexi, Mia and Ansel. (Photo contributed)

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