| Fort Myers News-Press
Joan Page celebrated her 97th birthday Feb. 7. The former North Fort Myers resident died Feb.8.
Joan Page, a former North Fort Myers resident, celebrated her 97th birthday Feb. 7 and died Feb. 8. She was known for reciting classic English poetry.
Fort Myers News-Press
Joan Page celebrated her 97th birthday with a small cake on Feb. 7. The former North Fort Myers resident died the next day.
That would not be the last her grandchildren and great-grandchildren memory from the British native.
“Mom recorded goodbye messages for each of her grand and great grandkids for when she passed,” daughter Angela Page said. “I just mailed them out to them all.”
Joan Page met her husband, Bert, during World War II in England. A March 2015 story in The News-Press celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, how they met, and how they ended up in Heron’s Glen in Lee County.
Unfortunately, Bert would not be around for their 75th. He died two years ago.
Their story is worth updating, describing the delight, surprise, intrigue and family togetherness the couple produced.
“I really won the parent lottery,” Angela Page, the middle of five Page siblings which includes Ian, Peter, Donna and Linda.
There are also grandchildren, Tracy, Jennifer, Malcolm, Morgan, Kevin, Miranda, Sean, Nicholas, Natasha and great grandchildren, Faith and Teaghan.
Angela Page said when the personal messages from her mom hit the intended inboxes, she started hearing back immediately.
“I heard from a couple of them,” she said. One said “I’m already bawling.”
The missives contained sage advice, intimate observations, personal suggestions and were directed to each of Joan Page’s offspring as a gentle guiding hand that would no longer be around.
“Your life has been a wonderful addition,” begins the audio tape in Joan Page’s lilting British accent to her granddaughter Miranda Hardy, 31, and Angela Page’s daughter. “I’ve always enjoyed you. You have such a good attitude to life and it’s great to share it. I’d like you to know how you made us see the sunny side of life and that is a real plus. You made us all smile all the time. God bless you darling, I love you very much.”
Hardy said that message was pure Joan Page.
“My Nanny had a long, eventful and inspiring life. She had humbling stories about growing up, and later serving, during the Second World War, and nothing but love for the large family she created as a survivor,” Hardy said.
Hardy said Joan Page was active and spry well into her later years.
“When she was about 85, I brought my then-new boyfriend Charlie to visit and we all played tennis,” she said. “He couldn’t believe how athletic she still was. Then, as she returned a serve, she fell. Charlie gasped, sure that we would soon be on our way to the emergency room. But she popped right back up, claiming “was that my point? That was her, popping right back up to teach life she was a fighter.”
Hardy also told of one of the last things her grandmother said to her.
“After I shared with her that I was no longer enjoying aspects of something i was spending much time on, she said ‘well let’s not waste any more time with that, now shall we’,” Hardy said. “A good reminder to make the most of the time we have, with the best attitude we can.”
Joan Page was living in Bedminster, N.J., when she died. She had moved there in 2017 to be closer to family and ended her days in her own little apartment attended to by a caregiver.
“We had her in a tiny apartment with a live-in woman, she was from Trinidad and she was wonderful,” Angela Page said. “She said that dad visited her Saturday (Feb. 7, her birthday) and that he said he will be glad when all this is over and then the next day she went to bed, talked and talked, then went quiet, according to our aid. It was peaceful she said.”
Angela Page, who has a radio show on WJFF 90.5FM Radio Catskill in the New York area took advantage of the COVID-19 situation last spring to tape a show with her mother.
“It was originally done in April of last year when we were all adjusting to the virus,” she said. “We compared life for her in the war and what we are coping with now. Food worries, isolation… etc.” Joan Page, with her daughter interviewing her, can be heard at the station’s archives, http://folkplus.com/setlists/2020-04-04.html.
Bert and Joan Page’s offspring remember them with love and affection and have no doubts on the deep mark the former North Fort Myers couple left on all of them.
Ian Page, now living in Canada, remembers his mother putting her education to good use with the recitation of classic poetry.
“When she was a kid she was in a school in Britain that thought that education should include knowledge of the classics,” Ian Page said. “That didn’t mean Shakespeare necessarily, that mean classic children’s rhymes. She had a long repertoire of those and until very recently she could remember all of them … and trot them out.”
Ron Cox, of Naples, first met Bert Page in England in 1947 and has been a family friend since.
“We were both married to girls from Yorkshire in the north of England, Bert for 2 years with a son already, me for 2 months,” Cox said. “We had both bought a house in the suburbs to avoid student digs and each of us had a small pre-war car (unknown among students of that time.)”
Cox said the couples grew close together. He said Joan often insisted he stop after a soccer practice to have dinner with them and the Pages lived with the Coxes for a brief time between moving homes and helped take care of their children when his wife gave birth and he had to have emergency abdominal surgery.
“With no one local to look after our 2-year-old-daughter Joan volunteered from 150 miles away and had her for three weeks which Joan said created her urge for a girl,” Cox said. “She later had three.”
After moving to Naples in 1980, Cox said the couples got to spend much more time together.
“We truly miss them,” he said.
The British couple knew something was afoot when they met and seemed a perfect match, Bert Page somewhat cerebral and with a quick wit and Joan Page with just the right amount of sugar and spice to counterbalance him.
“I met Joan on the 19th of November, 1943, and we were engaged Jan. 16, 1944,” Bert Page said in the 2015 News-Press story. Added Joan Page: “I said, ‘I’ll marry you, someday.’ I was 19; I wasn’t in a hurry. I was very busy those days. I was training cadets.”
Joan Page was also not someone who allowed gender to be a barrier.
She graduated from the school of Commerce at Barnsley Technical College and after a short spell as a company secretary at 18, joined the Royal Air Force.
“She was trained as a wireless operator and became an instructor before being posted to bomber command where she communicated in Morse (code),” Angela Page said. Her mother would help direct aircrews bombing targets in Europe — the United States by day and the British by night.
The couple came to the U.S. via Canada, settling in Heron’s Glen in North Fort Myers from New Jersey 27 years ago.
Along the way the couple built their life together.
Bert Page worked for many corporations including Borden, Miles Laboratories, Warner Lambert, American Chicle, Life Savers, Squibb and Proctor and Gamble. Joan Page often accompanied her husband to business conventions helping court customers and charm clients in four continents.
They were both involved in scouting in Canada and in the U.S.
“She always wanted to leave people happier than when she met them,” Angela Page said about her mother. “(She) would say ‘if it needs to be done, let’s get to it’.”
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