To be celebrating 100 years of life is no small feat, but a friendly and cheerful lady from Tavistock will be celebrating her first 100 years in a few short days.
Many have known Ivy Francis for years in Tavistock, whether it was working on legal documents for police services or at insurance offices. She has also been a longtime church treasurer as a Justice of the Peace for Ontario for many years.
Ivy Francis was born Ivy Stevenson, who became Ivy Melbourne when she married her husband, Stan (a war veteran), who eventually became the police chief of Tavistock.
Ivy came from England as a war bride, and with Stan settled on a farm with his adoptive parents, Chris and Lizzy Zehr, outside of Tavistock. They lived early on in Cassel on their farm and also owned a bakery in Tavistock. Ivy recalls working at that bakery on Woodstock Street North, and having to wash dishes for longer than she likes to remember.
Ivy had no children but she was one of six girls and a boy in her family. She was also a member of the Eastern Star and was a grand matron in 1989-1990. Her life revolved around the church, and she was an active member of Grace United Church. She was also a Sunday school teacher and worked in Tavistock for over 30 years at different area businesses and local insurance agencies.
One day, former Oxford MPP Harry Parrot called her and wanted Ivy to take on the job of justice of the piece. At the time she was working for Kennedy and Enghbrecht Insurance and decided she could probably take on the job. She served as a justice of the peace for 16 years.
Ivy and Stan Melbourne and Jim and Ina Francis were best friends for years. When their spouses passed away, Jim and Ivy decided to marry.
They lived on Centennial Drive and kept their property in immaculate condition along with many manicured flowerbeds and lawns.
A close friend, Diane Yantzi, said that Ivy shared with her many experiences in life. She would always tell Diane that she can still hear the bombing in London with the advent of World War II. She said Ivy would always end a conversation with “well, what good did the war ever do for anyone anyway!”
She always had a great perspective on life’s ups and downs and would take time to visit various residents at the Maples Home for Seniors in Tavistock and could be seen bringing chocolates and cookies to cheer them up.
Diane says Ivy would say “her favourite subject in school was math and in later years was very comfortable in the job of treasurer at the church.” She also smiles when Ivy, as a war bride from England, revealed with a smile that the Tetley Tea company sent all war brides a box of their tea upon their arrival in their new home in Canada. She says Ivy “still drinks Tetley tea to this day.”
Ivy’s birthday celebration is on December 11 at Millienium Trail Manor 6861 Oakwood Drive, L2G OJ3, in Niagara Falls from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., where she is close to her nieces and nephews and hoping that many of her Tavistock friends will be able to make the trip if weather conditions are favourable, or at least stay in touch.
Happy 100th birthday to a truly great lady who has made the Tavistock area a better place to live.