Dr. Jean L. Briggs

July 27, 2016

Obituary

Jean L. Briggs passed away at the age of 87 on July 27, 2016 in the company of her brother Hod and sister-in-law Mary Ann at St. Clare’s Hospital. An eminent anthropologist and ardent environmentalist, Jean lived the principles of conservation of nature in her life, living simply and preserving lands for conservation. She grew up in Newton, Maine, and during her lifetime she lived in New Hampshire, Maine, Israel, Siberia, Alaska, Italy, and Nunavut. She was an indomitable researcher who came to the MUN Department of Anthropology in 1967 where she remained for 47 years, settling in Maddox Cove and completing a dictionary of Utkuhiksalingmiut Inuktitut – a major contribution to the preservation of the Utku language. Jean was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and received a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society for Psychological Anthropology. Her books Never in Anger and Inuit Morality Play are highly respected in the field of anthropology. Jean was anything but ordinary, and this was reflected in everything she wrote, said, or did. In later years she enjoyed her ocean view, birds, and her friends and neighbours who would often stop in for a visit and help her out with chores. She was fond of interesting conversation, and was known for her sharp and witty emails to people she valued all over the world. She recently said that people remember what is important to them; Jean will be remembered by colleagues, former students, neighbours, and friends near and far. Jean was predeceased by her parents, Margaret Worcester Briggs and Horace Wilkinson Briggs. She is survived by her three younger siblings, Bill (Jean), Hod (Mary Ann) and Meg, as well as three generations of nieces and nephews. She will be especially missed by close friends, colleagues and former students at Memorial University. Friends and colleagues may visit the family at Carnell’s Funeral Home, 329 Freshwater Road on Saturday, July 30th from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of one’s choice. To send a message of condolence or to sign the memorial guestbook, please visit www.carnells.com

Schedule

Visitations

12:00 noon - 4:00 pm. on July 30, 2016

Carnell’s Funeral Home
329 Freshwater Road
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Biography

An eminent anthropologist and ardent environmentalist, Jean lived the principles of conservation of nature in her life, living simply and preserving lands for conservation. She grew up in Newton, Maine, and during her lifetime she lived in New Hampshire, Maine, Israel, Siberia, Alaska, Italy, and Nunavut. She was an indomitable researcher who came to the MUN Department of Anthropology in 1967 where she remained for 47 years, settling in Maddox Cove and completing a dictionary of Utkuhiksalingmiut Inuktitut – a major contribution to the preservation of the Utku language. Jean was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and received a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society for Psychological Anthropology. Her books Never in Anger and Inuit Morality Play are highly respected in the field of anthropology. Jean was anything but ordinary, and this was reflected in everything she wrote, said, or did. In later years she enjoyed her ocean view, birds, and her friends and neighbours who would often stop in for a visit and help her out with chores. She was fond of interesting conversation, and was known for her sharp and witty emails to people she valued all over the world.

Personal Stories

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Condolences

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Tim Borlase C.M., O.N.L

I don’t remember ever meeting Jean Briggs in person but her work held an indomitable hold on me when I was doing research for Labrador Studies curricula. I wished I had got to know her better.

Sharon Dwyer, Gjoa Haven Nunavut

My sincere condolences to Jean’s family. Jean had worked & lived with my grandparents-Kigeak & Aqnaluq in Back River years ago. Once again, my extended condolences to all affected by her passing, she was one of a kind & will be missed

Rosemary Ommer

I will remember Jean with deep affection and respect. She and I used to talk on Skype, and I have helped her with grant writing. We had several friends in common over the years, and shared a very similar taste in literature. Jean was a formidable academic, with a strong, brilliant and yet empathetic mind, and I will miss her greatly.

Rex Wiley

I never knew Jean, but I did know her parents through The New Church of the Jerusalem in Fryeburg, Maine. They were great people and treated me very well as a child. No doubt Jean was a great soul like her folks. Fly away home, God’s speed.

Peter Pope (Memorial Archaeology, Retired)

Jean was full of surprises.She had ideas about everything. It’s very much the end of an era. My condolences.

Meg Worcester

As Jean’s “baby sister,” I have to say how touched I am, reading these lovely messages. Thank you, all, so much. Many of you have spoken of her wit, so I’d like to tell you a funny story 🙂 Years ago ~ probably 30+ ~ I was typing a bibliography from a Rolodex for a UMASS/Amherst School of Education Professor. When I turned the card and came to “Briggs, Jean L.,” I sort of gasped in surprise! Said Professor asked what I was gasping at, and when I laughed and told her I was just surprised to see the name Jean Briggs, she asked ~ in a tone of awe ~ “Ohhhh, do you know her?” I replied, “Yes, she’s my sister; she’s coming to visit next week.” It was her turn to gasp! When I told Jean about it, she replied, “Well . . . after I’ve gone, you can invite her over and charge her 10 cents to sit in my chair”!!!! She certainly did make a mark for herself in the world, and I’m sure I can speak for my two brothers and the rest of our family when I say how proud we were to be related to her. “Gottspeed,” Jean; it was a great life and we will miss you.

Lorraine Jackson

When I was a student at Memorial in the winter of 1979 I was one of the students in Dr Briggs’ course entitled. Communication & Culture. She was a fascinating teacher; I will always remember her.

Linda Corbett

I knew Dr. Briggs for a relatively short time of `9 years in her role as a Professor Emerita and my role as a financial and administrative officer at Memorial. From our very first meeting, I was impressed with her keen mind, sharp wit and obvious passion for life. She has certainly left a mark on the humanitarian as well as academic community.

Joedee and Vivian’s Family

Deep Condolence Sending Your Way From Joedee’s Family In Baker Lake, Nu.

Jean Was Beautiful Inside And Out.
She Stayed With Us Here And She Knew So Much Of Our Language.
Condolence To Her Family And Close Friends <3

Joedee and Vivian's Family

Deep Condolence Sending Your Way From Joedee's Family In Baker Lake, Nu.

Jean Was Beautiful Inside And Out.
She Stayed With Us Here And She Knew So Much Of Our Language.
Condolence To Her Family And Close Friends <3

Hod and Mary Ann Briggs,

Hod and Mary Ann Briggs, and the whole Briggs family, want to express our great appreciation for the immense outpouring of sympathy, kindness and support in the wake of Jean's passing. We have been amazed, and will be forever grateful. It was especially wonderful to meet so many whom we knew by name in Jean's emails but had never met, and to see so many others we had met on previous trips. So many remarkable and wonderful people! Again, our thanks.

Erika Merschrod

I have many fond memories of time spent in the "Tree House" and the "Shoe". Browsing her bookshelves was always fascinating, and hearing stories of fieldwork in remote locales was a real thrill. She was a marvelous woman and I feel fortunate to have known her. I am out of town, but I will be thinking of her and her family on Saturday.

Dr Steve Carr

I visited Jean many times on walks around the point. She had one of the most extraordinary personal libraries, including some old favorites from my childhood that she permitted to hold and read. A remarkable soul, she will be missed.

David and Louise Hickey

So sorry to hear of Ms. Briggs passing. She was a lovely neighbour with lots of great stories. She will be missed.

David, Liuise, Ashley and Muchael
The Hickey's

Daphne and Kevin Noble

Extending our sincere sympathy to the Briggs family. It was indeed a pleasure to have known Jean and to have shared many "pot-luck birthday lunches" with her. God Bless!

Conor Cook

My deepest condolences to Jean's family. It's hard to believe she's gone, but she will continue to lead a very vivid existence in the memories of those who knew her. Since I first began working for Jean about 12 years ago as she compiled her Utkuhiksalingmiut dictionary, she has had a major and beneficent influence on my life, and I owe her a great deal. Her love of the Inuit language was infectious, and her scholarship, breadth of knowledge and scrupulous attention to detail were truly impressive. She was great fun to work with and talk with - when we weren't talking linguistics, our conversation ranged from opera to cooking to wildlife to politics, and it was always a delight to hear her sharply-reasoned and wittily-expressed opinions on any subject. Her fascinating stories about the places she had lived and travelled were a testament to her adventurous spirit and love of life. She was also very kind to me personally, as I gather she was to many others who will remember her fondly. She was altogether an amazing person and I feel very, very privileged to have known her.

Christa Beaudoin-Lietz

My sincere condolences to Jean's family. As a graduate student in the early 1980s working on Inuktitut, I first benefitted from Jean's awe-inspiring knowledge of the language, her willingness to share her scholarship and to answer many a question. I will remember, and miss terribly, short and long discussions during conferences, but often during chance meetings on campus.

Bob Hill

I met Jean when I arrived in St. John's in 1970. When she moved to Maddox Cove I moved in to her old second story apartment in the Halliday property now a rich yuppie crescent opposite Memorial. In those days Sociologists and Anthropologists were a community of scholars and Jean was one of the foremost. I remember hikes over the barrens to Cape Spear, parties to celebrate the seal harvest, and helping to carry that old, heavy wood stove into her house at Maddox Cove. Jean always welcomed us to her home, provided flashlights for the return trip in the dark and everyone knew she was a special, wonderful, strong and warm person with an inifinite patience, a wry smile and an unending appetite for socializing even though she was at heart quite a private person. I will miss those evenings by the fire in Maddox Cove and the spirit of her presence in this world.

Bob Hill

I met Jean when I arrived in St. John's in 1970. When she moved to Maddox Cove I moved in to her old second story apartment in the Halliday property now a rich yuppie crescent opposite Memorial. In those days Sociologists and Anthropologists were a community of scholars and Jean was one of the foremost. I remember hikes over the barrens to Cape Spear, parties to celebrate the seal harvest, and helping to carry that old, heavy wood stove into her house at Maddox Cove. Jean always welcomed us to her home, provided flashlights for the return trip in the dark and everyone knew she was a special, wonderful, strong and warm person with an inifinite patience, a wry smile and an unending appetite for socializing even though she was at heart quite a private person. I will miss those evenings by the fire in Maddox Cove and the spirit of her presence in this world.

Bill Montevecchi

So many of us will miss this beautiful and endearing woman. She contributed so much in so many unheralded ways to our university and our province.

Godspeed ...

Audrey Dawe-Sheppard

I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to Jean's family. Jean started out as my boss almost 30 years ago but it didn't take too long for us to consider each other friends. With her passing the world has lost a remarkable woman and I have lost a true and dear friend. I feel honoured to have been able to share in some small way in her life. I will end this as I ended many an email to her - "Take Care. Hugs. Audrey."