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Roberta Jordan

March 5, 1937 ~ September 27, 2023 (age 86) 86 Years Old

Roberta Jordan Obituary

Roberta Jordan (nee Davidson, then Brydon) died on September 27, 2023 in Salmon Arm, finally succumbing to the Parkinson’s disease that had changed her so much.

Roberta was born in Edmonton on March 5, 1937. She spent her early years in Field, BC, and eventually worked in Uranium City as a laboratory technician. She met and married Don Brydon, who, like her father, Robert (Jock), was in the RCMP. Their family grew as they bounced between small-town detachments in Saskatchewan. 

Robert (Cheryl) was born in Uranium City, Donald (Valerie) followed in Gravelbourg, Lori Ann (Dan Sampson) in North Battleford, and Michael (Stephanie) in Broadview.

Unfortunately, the circumstances of these early years turned out to be very challenging and Roberta eventually gathered the courage to pack up her four young children and move from Lynn Lake to Penticton, where her father had retired. As Roberta told it, it was difficult for a young single mother to find housing in Penticton in the 1970s. She convinced Phil Locke to rent to her in the Garden Apartments on Duncan, which at the time was a paradise for kids: an endless stream of street hockey, modified bikes, and kick the can. 

Roberta started working at CIBC on Main as a teller but then translated her lab experience into an entry-level position at Casabello Wines. Roberta’s strong preferences and relentless attention to detail enabled her to take on larger roles at Casabello, and she unexpectedly—as an uncredentialed woman—found herself involved in the early days of the Okanagan wine industry’s transition to what it is today. 

She reinvested her newfound security and sense of self back into her family. She would routinely come home from work in the summer, pack up the car, and pull together a picnic at Sun-Oka Beach. She planned family camping trips in the Rockies to share the incredible setting of her childhood. She bought a 21-foot sailboat because that’s what she thought respectable families did. Casabello asked her to caretake the orchard behind their growing facility and she moved the family to the little house with a huge garden. There she honed her already considerable talent for writing daily lists of chores.

While at Casabello, Roberta met John Jordan and they married in 1980. They moved into their home on Sparton Drive and Roberta stopped working. She was ill-suited to early retirement, however, and John found her a kitchen store in Cherry Lane Mall. Roberta ran Kitchen Delight for many years and later established the Cook’s Choice on Front Street. From there she supplied Penticton generally, and her family specifically, with more high-end kitchen gadgetry than anyone could expect to use.

As John and Roberta became more established as a couple, the house on Sparton became a hub for dinner parties and family events. Roberta presided over these with her own distinctive sense of style and eye for detail. Her gardens, though largely invisible from the house, were lush and weedless; each Christmas tree was more elaborate and time-consuming than the last; the cakes she made for her many grandchildren were absurd in their complexity and detail; her cleaning cabinet was always well stocked with Comet, Mr. Clean, and Pine-Sol (not to mention Windex, Pledge, and Silvo) and she had had strong views about the precise manner in which each should be used. These were good years for Roberta. She had friends—most notably her neighbor, Pauline Bird—and stability in her life.

Things change though. Just as she sold off her kitchen stores to retire for good, John was diagnosed with a rare but painful and ultimately fatal disease. Their grand plans for retirement went unrealized. The new motorhome remained parked in the driveway and the dinner parties became less frequent. Then other changes started occurring. Roberta could still pull off a family dinner for 30, but she could not remember how to use a remote control. Gradually, but then suddenly, the formidable woman who was our mother and who was deeply entwined in all our lives became less formidable and less present. Ultimately, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

John and Roberta sold the house on Sparton in 2015 and moved to Redwing, but John passed away shortly thereafter. Roberta settled into Redwing, tending a garden that was largely invisible from the house and making huge batches of cookies for her grandchildren. But she had the inevitable fall and moved to Salmon Arm to live with and be cared for by Don and Val. Eventually, as her disease progressed, she was transferred to a series of increasingly hospital-like care homes. Covid and lockdowns left her isolated, but the disease that robbed her of cognitive and motor function also seemed to bring her a sense of serenity and calm. In this, Roberta’s death was a blessing. She would not have liked, or approved of, what she had become and stayed for so many years: inert, ineffective, her hair not styled to specification. We prefer to remember our mother at her peak: always in motion, always put together, always demanding effort from herself and others.

Roberta was interred beside John Jordan at Lakeview Cemetery in Penticton on October 7, 2023.

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