Jennifer Mary (née Cook, formerly Webber) Riach
Passed on: February 25th, 2013
January 25, 2013
Our beloved Jennifer, in the words of Shakespeare, shuffled off this mortal coil on January 25, having succumbed with great reluctance to the leukemia she fought for the past year. Born in England, Jennifer studied theatre in London, and relocated to Newfoundland as a young wife to her first husband David Webber, a historian. There she was the devoted mother of two active sons while acting in countless theatre productions, on television and in radio plays to wide acclaim. She lived for many years in Edmonton, where she managed theatre programs for the Edmonton Parks and Rec Department, and in Toronto, where she acted in TV, stage and radio, and worked at the Harbourfront Centre. The North Shore and Vancouver have been her home for most of the past three decades, where she was well known for her character roles. Over the last decade, she became known for her moving portrayals of Emily Carr. Jennifer had a lifelong career in theatre, has known and performed with the greats of the Canadian stage. In 1991, she founded Dramaworks, a theatre school for children and teens in partnership with the District of West Vancouver, initially on the grounds of Klee Wyck on the Capilano River and recently relocated to Lawson Studios on the waterfront at John Lawson Park. At Dramaworks, Jennifer shared her passion for Shakespeare and traditional theatre with thousands of children, inspiring generation after generation toward a love of theatrical expression. Jennifer was also President of the West Vancouver Arts Council and one of the founders of initial efforts to progress a performing arts centre in that community, which resulted in the building of the Kay Meek Centre for the Performing Arts. For the last half decade, Jennifer lived at PAL (Performing Arts Lodge) in Coal Harbour, continuing her work with Dramaworks while also acting in a number of memorable roles in PAL productions. Jennifer is survived by her son Jason Webber, daughter-in-law Paula and grandchildren Lauren, Mark, Corey and Becky and four great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her brothers, Bill Cook in New Zealand and Gareth Cook and his partner Lisa in Newfoundland, as well as numerous nieces and nephews in the UK. She is predeceased by her son Mark, parents Winifred and Frank, and sisters, Colleen and Jill. Jennifer will be missed by her family, her devoted friends and colleagues, the residents of PAL, and her many Dramaworks students, alumni and their supportive families. All who knew, loved and admired her are invited to a Celebration of Life on Friday, March 8, 2013, 3 pm, Christchurch Cathedral at Georgia and Burrard in Vancouver. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jennifer’s memory to the PAL Vancouver, 300-518 Cardero Street, Vancouver, BC V6G 3L3.