Jesu, joy of man's desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.
Stunningly compatible wife to Stan King for 52 years; infinitely generous mother to David--who went on a few months before her in order to prepare a proper welcome--and to Jennifer, who stayed behind; beloved sister and best friend to Drew Webster (Shelagh) of Montreal, and cherished sister-in-law to Eleanor Byers (Dick), and Don King, of Calgary and Los Angeles. She deeply valued her nieces and nephews, her students from across the decades, and her children's lifelong friends, as well as her own. We all learned something from her quiet, entirely self-possessed approach to life, and her unshakeable belief that there is a higher purpose for us being here.
The second of three children born to a well-respected family in the Westmount neighborhood of Montreal, Mina Jean Webster was surrounded by Music from an early age. Her parents, who had met in the Westmount Park United Church choir, were both engaged as soloists, performing for soldiers as they went off to war, and in orphanages and prisons. She learned from her mother the secret of throwing a roast in the oven on a Sunday afternoon, and returning home after a performance to gather round the table as night drew on.
Described as fearless and quick-thinking as a child, she saved her brother Drew's life when he fell through the ice in the Beaver Pond atop Mount Royal. She was equally brave when facing a tragedy in which her mother died, at the age of 12. Mina was the lifelong guardian of her mother's memory, allowing us to know her through tales of her legendary voice and transplanted Irish heart.
Mina Jean became Head Girl of Trafalgar School for Girls, and went on to do the first of three Music degrees, at the Conservatory in Toronto. Following this, she joined Moral Re-Armament, an international reconciliation organization, travelling around the world as part of the Chorus in a musical play, and working on the cook shift for a decade. She encountered the monsoon rains of India, experienced a Japanese tea ceremony and met the Shah of Iran, while engaging in the work of conflict resolution through personal change in many countries.
Life can change in an instant, and for Mina, that instant was hearing her colleague Muriel Smith sing, during the production of a film about the establishment of the first Black College in the United States. She knew that she was meant to be doing Music more seriously, and so she returned as a mature student, to complete her LRAM in London England in 1964, and a Bachelor of Music in Education from McGill, in 1969.
This trajectory, of returning to school after volunteering for many years, was paralleled by her future husband, who had also returned to school as a mature student, completing a degree in Medicine. They graduated and were married in the same year, and entered into the world's most complementary marriage, which grew to include son David and daughter Jennifer, and cat, Tiger.
Mina worked as a teacher of French and Music in the school system during the early years in Calgary, and, after the family moved to Ottawa, she distinguished herself as a Composer. Her Anthem for Canada was performed twice on Parliament Hill: on Canada Day 1981, and on the day the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was adopted, April 17, 1982.
From there, she moved into more than three decades of private piano teaching in Ottawa's West end, and had a hand in shaping many a future musician's path. She tirelessly supported her children's musical and creative endeavours, and drew on her unshakeable Faith during the most challenging of times, when mental illness struck her family for the second time.
There was never a whiff of aimlessness or self-absorption about Mina. She believed in living a life that was bigger than oneself, and in finding God's plan for your life.
She loved things that were light. Children, nature, birds, poetry. She would memorize the words of the Psalmist on walks by the Ottawa River. She had the clearest vision of Heaven I know. A truly great listener, and an avid reader, some of the most precious time in recent years was spent in cottages by water, drinking in the peace of Nature, and hearing David in the birdsong outside. To know her was to know her great love of harmony and her selfless interest in others, and to be inspired by her example.
Courageous to the end, her magnificent gentleness was present through to her last breath, which was conducted at the most graceful of tempos.
Faith, Hope, and Love...these she had in abundance. But the greatest of these was her Love.
All are welcome to attend her Funeral service: Saturday, Dec. 11th at 11am. Parkdale United Church, Ottawa. Special pre-service Music will begin at 10.45am.
Proof of double vaccination is required, while registration is not. Entry is from the cream Garden doors facing Parkdale (best for those parking in the large North parking lot accessed off of Parkdale), and from the top of the ramp in the smaller lot accessed off of Gladstone.
Please join us for a Reception afterwards in the Memorial Hall.
Donations in Mina's memory to Initiatives of Change Canada https://ca.iofc.org/ or Parkdale United Church https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/11191 are sincerely appreciated.