Re-marrying and putting her life back together has made Pearl Hermsdorf (Jameson) even more graceful.
She says it takes time to become comfortable with the future after losing a loved one suddenly.
When Frank Jameson, 66, husband and father of her three children, died in 1989 from a heart attack, it shocked the town. No one knew he had a heart problem, but Pearl says she thinks he knew. He declined help, insisting he had a hiatus hernia.
She says he was a caring, thoughtful man, perhaps the most unselfish person she has ever known.
That’s the way most everyone in town thought of him too. He was a union man, an alderman, a mayor, the conscience of the town and its working people.
Pearl was the stay-at-home partner in this 42-year partnership, and, among other things, she gave it grace and serenity.
It wasn’t easy watching her husband wrestle with problems of the day.
But she handled it well. Long-time close friend Natalie McInnis says she has never heard Pearl say a bad word about anyone.
“In our view, she has always been the first lady of Ladysmith.”
But Frank’s death changed her life.
You never forget, but you have to move on, so after a time, Pearl sold the family home and moved to Colonia Gardens where she was to meet Guenter Hermsdorf, new to town and himself a widower.
“Pearl was only the second person to move into her complex. There was lots of construction going on around her, so she baked scones each day and gave them to the workers,” recalls Natalie.
Pearl and Guenter were married last October and Guenter says people still tell him he’s a lucky man.
Guenter, who lost his wife to a heart attack in 1985, then retired here from Toronto after working as a toolmaker for the Ford Motor Company.
How did he find Ladysmith? He says he and his first wife once visited a friend in Nanaimo. Upon retirement, he sought out his friend, who showed him Ladysmith.
He’s glad he didn’t miss the town or he might have missed Pearl.
He and Pearl go walking, they swim together three times a week at the community centre named in memory of Frank Jameson; they tour the other islands, places Pearl says she never got around to see; and, Guenter has taken her east to show her what his world was like in Toronto and Montreal.
Pearl came to Ladysmith from Edmonton with her family (Wilson) in 1945, when she was 19.
“I instantly loved the green of the mountains and the clear water,” she says.
Life with Frank was about people. He worked hard with others to establish a Canadian union at Crofton and he worked hard for the town.
“When he couldn’t help people, it bothered him.
“He was happiest when he put on an old hat and helped the ladies make sandwiches for Ladysmith Days.
“He was one of the first men to join the Hospital Auxiliary because he wanted to help.
So life goes on for this lady, for Guenter, to, because he overcame heartache of this own.
It’s nice they found each other.
Pearl passed away on the first day of summer, June 21, 2009 at the Nanaimo Regional Hospital after a brief illness. She is interred at Ladysmith Cemetery.