Powell, Jessie Rosalind (née Duraisami)

Passed away peacefully at Chartwell Grenadier Retirement Residence in Toronto on Friday, December 16, 2022, at the age of 93. Loving mother of Sanj (Eleanor Fritz) and Sharm (Kevin Kuebler). Adored Nana to her three granddaughters, Bryn, Tate and Liesl.

Predeceased by her husband, Samuel Edgar Powell, brother George, and sisters Mercy, Jemima, and Alice. Jessie will be fondly remembered by her numerous nieces and nephews and their families in Canada and India. She will be especially missed by her dear friend and “partner in crime,” Bette Birmingham.

Born in Madras, India in 1929, Jessie came from a loving Christian family. The youngest of five children, Jessie attended an English medium school and excelled in mathematics, originally wanting to be an engineer. Jessie’s mother told her at a very young age that “her little feet would one day take her far, far away.” Her father, who indulged his youngest child with chocolates and praise, instilled in her the belief that she could do anything she set her mind to, and Jessie carried this determination and optimism throughout her life, notwithstanding its many challenges. 

Jessie lost her father at the age of 12 and had to grow up quickly. Wanting to be financially independent as early as possible, she chose nursing as a profession, graduating from Christian Medical College in Vellore, India in 1952 with BSc in Nursing, 1st Class. Her chosen career led to Jessie meeting her beloved husband, Sam, a medical supply salesman from Bangalore. Jessie was working at a hospital in Bellary, owned by her sister, Alice, when Sam’s sales calls happily became more and more frequent.

Jessie and Sam were married in 1961 and lived in Bangalore, where Jessie was the Nursing Superintendent at Cantonment Polyclinic. Sam always dreamt of living abroad one day, so together, they made that dream a reality and moved their young family to Canada in 1970, where Jessie’s credentials as a nurse resulted in a job waiting for her in Toronto. While life in a new country presented many challenges and changes, Jessie set about learning new skills and taking on new responsibilities to ease the transition for her family.

Jessie became a Professor of Nursing at George Brown College in 1972, and over 20 years, gave hundreds of students not only a firm professional grounding but also a motherly ear to help them work through all manner of life’s problems. More than once, while visiting a hospital after Jessie’s retirement, a smiling nurse would ask, “Was Jessie Powell your mother? She was my favourite teacher.”

While Sam may have been content to “travel” the world from the comfort of his living room, Jessie was keen to see it all firsthand. After Sam’s passing in 1991, she and Bette travelled extensively – from Ireland to India, Norway to New Zealand, Hawaii to Hamburg, Fiji to Frankfurt, California to China and Jamaica to Japan. 

Jessie was a longstanding, devoted member of St. Olave’s Anglican Church in Swansea where she made many friends and took on active roles, including teaching Sunday School and starting the church’s Christmas pageant tradition, which continues today.

More than anything, though, Jessie loved her family. She beamed with joy and pride each and every time she was together with her children or her grandchildren. And when they were not able to be together in person, just the mention of their names would light up Jessie’s face. 

Jessie left this world a better place. People were blessed to have known her. Her smile lit up the room and she brought a positive energy wherever she went.  

The Funeral Service will take place at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, December 28, 2022 at St. Olave’s Anglican Church, 360 Windermere Ave., Toronto and will also be live streamed at this link. Reception next door at Turner and Porter, 2357 Bloor Street West, immediately following the service. Private family interment.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to St. Olave’s Anglican Church (choose “In Memory of Jessie Powell” from the dropdown menu).