Jean Powrie- an appreciation

It was with great sadness, that I received the news that our esteemed President, Jean Powrie, had passed away on Boxing Day 2017.

I had been talking to her on the telephone in the week leading up to Christmas. As ever we were discussing history, the world and of course The Open University History Society (OUHS). After all, although Jean was 90 years of age, she was extremely mentally alert and as bright as a button. As regards history she had many eclectic interests and was an authority on The Knowle Estate, a subject on which she had published. Of course people of our age had seen most things before and felt there was nothing new in the world, but that still didn’t stop us expressing our points of view. Her views were always erudite, pithy, well balanced and much to the point. Jean was someone not to suffer fools gladly.

However, our conversations used to involve the OUHS to a great extent. I first met Jean at the AGM weekend held at Barlaston way back in 1992, the year I joined. Jean who was a founder member of the society was, at that time, the Chair, a position she was to hold until 1996, when she stepped down from that office but served as a vice-president. With the death, in 2006, of Allan Fletcher, Jean would be elected President at the AGM in 2007. Jean was not an invisible, in name only, President. She would often treat your hon. Secretary, myself and her neighbour Ruth to lunch where OUHS was always among the topics of conversation. Furthermore I know she also maintained contact with other officers of the society and she always tried to attend at least part of the AGM weekend.

Jean was also an enthusiastic member of The Birmingham and Midland Institute It was a personal treat when she arranged for the ‘lunch four’ to have lunch and a tour of that institution’s library at its Margaret Street centre Like others, tributes have been pouring in from members of our society, I shall miss Jean Powrie. I shall miss our informed chats and her cheery greeting ‘Hello Don’ on the telephone.

We send our heartfelt condolences to daughter Jessie and other members of her family.

Don Vincent