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Community activist Jennifer Larsen leaves behind lasting legacy

Lorraine Graves   Aug-04-2017

Jennifer Larsen (at left), an Ethel Tibbits Women of Distinction pioneer award winner, passed away late last month.

Photo by Rob Newell

Richmond has lost one of its heroes.

At age 85, Jennifer Larsen, community activist, hard worker, and skilled journalist, passed away in her home July 22, 2017.



While according to her family it was peaceful, her death was completely unexpected.

Olive Bassett was Larsen’s long-time best friend.

"I can't believe she's gone,” Bassett told The Richmond Sentinel. “I can't believe I'm not going to email

her or get her telephone calls."

Tim Larsen said his step-mother was special.

"One thing I tell people, I have no bad memories of Jennifer. I call her Jennifer because she’s actually my step-mother. My mother died in 1967 when I was 17 and my siblings were younger. Jennifer was an incredible gift to our family. She was my parent for 48 years. She was a gift for my father as well.”

Her family describes Larsen as “feisty, questioning, tenacious, fiercely independent, dedicated to working on social issues, particularly mental health and completely devoted to family."

Bassett recalls their acquaintance.

“I’ve known her since 1981 when I went onto the family court committee and she was retiring as

president. We were so close that we were more like sisters for 42 years. We had the greatest respect for each other and each other's decisions."

"Her curiosity was just unbelievable. It was marvelous. When we went away always on holidays together, and was always a wonderful time, and Jennifer would say 'I wonder what's down there?' She was so intelligent."

That vibrant curiosity and intelligence served Larsen well when she worked as a journalist at the Vancouver Sun.

In a Sept 2, 2012 article about the death of Don Cromie, the last independent owner of the Vancouver Sun, her former colleague Frances Bula said: ”Jennifer Larsen, who got a job at the paper on the basis of no newspaper experience at all after she met him at a party, laughs when she remembers him: 'It was such a wild, crazy time, a marvellous place to be. There was never a boring moment.'"

As well as working as a journalist and on the family court committee, Larsen volunteered around seniors' issues, at an emergency homeless shelter and walked the streets in the annual homeless count.

Her obituary published this week said: "By request of the family there will be no public service. We ask that friends and acquaintances who wish to honour her memory do so by righting a wrong, advocating for

individuals and groups not able to do so for themselves, or supporting a charity by deed or donation. In honour of Jennifer's spirit, please help to continue her work to make the world a better place."

While Larsen's husband and a granddaughter predeceased her, Larsen leaves children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even one great-great grandchild, a lasting legacy, as well as all her good works for the people of Richmond.

Says Bassett of Larsen’s death: “It's left a great big, awful void in my life. We could laugh about things, so thank heavens for her. I guess I'll just have to laugh at myself now."

Bassett echoed the feelings of those who knew Jennifer Larsen, "She was one of the most gracious people and she just didn't ever suffer fools. Honestly she was just a wonderful person. I'm going to miss her. I

already do."

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