On Saturday, Second World War veteran and lifelong educator John Fred Jauck celebrated his 103rd birthday at his home in Saanich’s Trillium Highgate Lodge.
The centenarian traces his early life across central and western Canada before volunteering his experience for educational development.
Jauck was born in Saskatchewan on June 5, 1918, one of seven boys and three girls in his family.
When there was no middle school within a mile-and-a-half walk, as there had been for grade school, he completed his ninth and 10th grade by mail before attending high school in Duval, Sask. A first-class teacher’s certificate would follow.
“I came out to Sea Island (now part of Richmond),” following the Second World War draft, Jauck said, having enlisted in the Canadian Air Force as an information clerk and a teacher with the education unit. “We lived in tents at that time. There was nothing there,” he recalled. “My job was to teach basic math for those who wanted to move ahead.”
|An infantry kit inspection on Sea Island, B.C., 1939 (Department of National Defence)|
Jauck would make trips to Vancouver’s Lutheran Church as permitted, where he met and would marry his wife. The two would “flip around” between Sea Island, Boundary Bay and Horseshoe Bay at the whim of the Air Force, he said, before settling in Vancouver to raise a daughter and a son following the war.
Jauck retired as an administrator at the former Pearson Hospital at 60 and moved to Victoria.
“I’ve always been a public person. Starting with teaching and then being a hospital administrator,” he said. “I try to be involved.”
By 1985, Jauck held board member positions with the DeMezey Memorial Legacy Society at Abbeyfield House, the Anawim Companions Society and Kiwanis Club of Victoria. For the latter, Jauck would help oversee the development of nearly 100 senior housing units, one shelter for boys and another for single parents.
Pensions for health and education lent themselves to Jauck’s creation of the pioneering mental health program, Friends of Music.
“It was for people who had worked on or could do very good music, but had isolated themselves,” he said. “The idea is that if you don’t want to talk to anybody, (and) you play a fiddle in a group … you finally say to your neighbour, ‘I think you’re off-key’ or something like that,” he laughed.
With time, the group would include a group for banjos, violins and an orchestra. They continue to play today with an offering of lessons and performances in-person or over Zoom.
|The Friends of Music during 2004’s Victoria Day parade. (Friends of Music / Facebook)|
Beyond music, and with the help of his doctor brother-in-law, Jauck contributed to research and training to improve posture while writing in the classroom.
Writing posture can improve note-taking and thus overall performance throughout school, he explained. Since then, Jauck said, local grade schools have implemented their posture methods for students.
Since the passing of his wife five years ago and taking up new residence in Saanich at Trillium, Jauck is proud of his role in improving the social clubs at his retirement home. He helped institute “happy hour” for discussion, and enjoys a cup of coffee or a glass of wine most days at 4 p.m..
When asked about his favourite thought to sit with after 103 years, Jauck said to start with, it’s the people.
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