Last year when the word came out through the grapevine that Ann Goodfellow was not well, and this was followed by a difficult diagnosis and prognosis, it shook a lot of people in the Parham area and beyond. By the time she died last week (January 5th). It was not a surprise, but it was still difficult news for all of those who knew her.
Ann was a force in the community for many years. Many people knew Ann well, and she touched their lives. I knew her as an advertiser in the paper through the funeral home and Goodfellow’s Flowers shop that she used to run, but mostly I knew her in her role as a school board trustee.
She became involved with the school board by serving on the Parent Council at Hinchinbrooke Public School. Somewhere along the way, that involvement led her to run for the position of trustee, and she was elected or acclaimed every time she ran.
I saw a lot of her during the elections in 2006 and 2010. Because of the size of the territory she represented, she was invited to appear at all-candidates meetings in Central and North Frontenac and Addington Highlands, nine evenings over a three week period.
Each time she gave a 3-minute speech, and sat through a two hour meeting, rarely being asked any questions. In my recollection she never missed a meeting. Although it would not be true to say that she never complained about driving around the countryside after working all day, only to be ignored for two hours, but she always kept a sense of humour about it all. She ran four times, and served 14 years. The last four were the hardest but it was also the term where she made a lasting mark on the board and the community.
Ann was nervous during the 2010 election, much more so than in 2006. The PARC (Program and Accommodation Review Committee) that resulted in the construction of Granite Ridge Education Centre in Sharbot Lake, was underway. Ann was committed to seeing it through before stepping away from the board, and that's why she felt it really mattered that she get re-elected.
She won the election and spent the next two years playing a pretty delicate role. She had to stand by the board at public meetings, as parents learned their community schools were destined for closure and blamed her for it, while advocating for the interests of those same families behind the scenes. And all within the confines of a prescribed, bureaucratic process. It was clear early on that her own Hinchinbrooke School in Parham, where her kids had attended and where she got involved with the board in the first place, was destined to close. It also became clear early in the process that the new school was going to be built in Sharbot Lake, and not in Parham. Whatever she felt about that reality, Ann never let on, ever the realist.
However, when all was said and done, not only was Clarendon Central in Plevna maintained, which was not a surprise because of the distances involved, but Land O’Lakes Public School in Mountain Grove stayed open as well. And the Granite Ridge build was funded.
The Frontenac News article about the final PARC report that confirmed all of this, revealed a bit of the pressure Ann had been facing.
The final paragraph of the article reads like this: “... a relieved Ann Goodfellow made reference to the stress this has caused for her as a community member and a school board trustee as the prospect of multiple school closings was being considered. She said, “This is good. Now I don't have to move.”
Ann was convinced, even before the whole process got underway, that the only way to secure the future of education in what the Limestone Board calls “the North”, was to have a new school built. She knew it would cost more than the board could really afford or could easily justify to the Ministry of Education, which was fixated on a cost per pupil ratio for all of their expenditures.
She took a lot of pride in the role she played in getting Granite Ridge built. She played that role with a combination of discretion and commitment, patience and good will, and it took a toll. When I phoned her in January of 2014, a week after Granite Ridge had opened, to ask if she was going to run for Trustee again, she laughed pretty hard and long before getting one word out. NO!
She was certainly ready to return to working with her husband David at Goodfellows Funeral Home and enjoying the rural life that she loved, a future that only lasted four years instead of the twenty or thirty 30 that she had been hoping for.