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February 05, 2020
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In Memoriam: Jean Etoile Robinson Naysmith

The Lakehead University community was saddened to learn of the recent passing of a friend of the university, Jean Etoile Robinson Naysmith, who passed away on January 23. 

Toie is holding hands again with the love of her life, Dr. John Kennedy Naysmith. Toie and John were together for 61 years. Their love for one another is indescribably beautiful and true. Toie exuded grace, charm, warmth, intelligence, laughter and class. The light in her brown eyes danced with the magical way she had of loving others.

Toie and John's family is made up of their son John and his wife Kate; their daughter Caron and her daughter Sasha Alexandra; and their daughter Jean-Ann and her husband Bob, and their children, Charlie, Maria, Karen, Joey, Robbie and Susie.

Toie grew up in the vibrant community of Port Arthur with her loving parents, Hazel Jean and Robert (Bob) Robinson, her brother Jim, her Uncle Charlie and her grandparents, James and Sarah Catherine McNulty, whom she adored. Her childhood was one of love, warmth and adventure and was filled with many friends. Her grandparents built a magnificent Victorian style home at 329 Waverley St., which remained the family home for nearly 100 years.

After graduating from Port Arthur Collegiate Institute, Toie headed to the University of Toronto. She lived in residence at St. Hilda's at Trinity College. Her academic success earned her the sole opportunity of her class to do an exchange programme for her third and fourth years at the prestigious Smith College in Northampton, MA. Toie graduated with an Honours Degree in Music and English.

After graduation, Toie's international flare took her to Paris. Her excellent french language skills landed her a job with the Marshall Plan Organization, which led the European reconstruction effort after the Second World War. Toie's eyes sparkled when she recounts her two magnificent years in Paris.

When Toie returned from Paris, she met John through dear friends, and so began their beautiful love story. Their first home in the beautiful northern Ontario community of Auden was magical for Toie because of her love of nature and respect for genuine, hard-working people. With John's professional success, their life was an international adventure and Toie always made the warmest and most welcoming homes wherever they lived, including Auden, Banksiana, Thunder Bay, Ottawa, Boston, Vancouver, Calgary and Kathmandu (Nepal).

Toie's business acumen came to the fore during the 1980's when her parents asked her to take over running McNulty's Limited, which had been established by her grandparents and became a landmark store in Port Arthur for four generations. Her professionalism, discipline, communication skills and rapport with staff and customers made her highly successful in business.

Toie embraced her life in Thunder Bay. Singing in the Thunder Bay Symphony Chorus was a thrill for her. She considered it a privilege to serve as the General Manager of the Chorus. Toie and John were passionate supporters of Lakehead University and esteemed members of the Lakehead University community.

“Toie was always supportive of our co-productions between the Lakehead Vocal Ensemble and the Thunder Bay Symphony Chorus, and recognized the artistic value in our efforts to collaborate," said Dr. Dean Jobin-Bevans, Associate Professor of Music at Lakehead University.

A celebration of Toie's life will be held on Friday, Feb. 7, at 1 pm at the Jean McNulty Recital Hall, which is named in honour of Toie's mother, at Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road. The Jean McNulty Recital Hall is located in the William H. Buset Centre for Music and Visual Arts.