John and Jane Crosbie: ‘Just a brilliant couple to be around’

John and Jane Crosbie accompany Prince Charles at St. John’s International Airport during a royal visit in November 2009. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

“To Jane, he was the love of her life, as she was his.”

That is how John Crosbie’s family described their father’s marriage to Jane Crosbie in the Jan. 10 statement announcing that Crosbie — a lion of Tory politics for decades — had died that morning. 

John Crosbie and Jane Furneaux  married on Sept. 8, 1952. They were both 21 at the time. 

Their marriage not ontly withstood the tests of time — they raised two sons and a daughter — but flourished amid John Crosbie’s political career and public life, which took from St. John’s city council chambers to the House of Assembly to the House of Commons to Government House in St. John’s, where Crosbie served as Newfoundland and Labrador’s lieutenant-governor. 

Jane and John Crosbie enjoy a moment after John retired from politics in 1993. (CBC)

Over the years, one thing was always apparent and abundant: their affection for each other. 

“I am one of the few lucky enough to have married a woman who is completely perfect,” Crosbie said in 1988. 

A deep and close bond

John and Jane Crosbie were inseparable during their marriage, and those who knew them marvel at the bond they shared. 

“Just a brilliant couple to be around,” longtime friend Sheilagh Guy Murphy said in an interview in the living room of her St. John’s home. 

Jane and John Crosbie pose in May 2019 with their children Ches Crosbie, centre, and Beth Crosbie, right. Both of the Crosbie children were running at the time in a provincial election. (Paul Daly/The Canadian Press)

Guy Murphy says her friendship with the Crosbies started three decades ago, when she was introduced to Jane. 

“We met through a mutual dear friend and we’ve been thick as thieves ever since,” she said, adding that John Crosbie had already a close friend of her late husband, former St. John’s mayor John Murphy.  

The four ended up spending a lot of time together,  from games of bridge to European trips, from social gatherings to charity fundraisers. 

Guy Murphy has what seems like countless sweet memories of John and Jane over the years; stories about how they loved to go salmon fishing together, the time John bought Jane a ring in Paris because it matched her eyes, and how both of them felt equally confident about which direction to take when going on a trip in car together. 

Sheilagh Guy Murphy is a longtime friend of both Jane and John Crosbie. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

“If you’re driving along and Jane was in the passenger seat and John was driving there’s no such thing as a backseat driver. They’re both the front seat drivers, just like every other flippin’ couple in the world,” she said. 

Guy Murphy also recounted a story that Jane Crosbie told her just a few days ago about a solo trip John took out west one time to visit a friend. 

“She said he came home grumpy because ‘when I don’t go with him he always comes home grumpy because he missed me,'” said Guy Murphy. 

Over the years, Guy Murphy said, as life went on and surroundings changed, a constant was John and Jane. 

When John Crosbie died Jan. 10, Here & Now dedicated much of the night’s coverage to his life and career:

“There’s not a pretentious bone in their bodies. There they are. What you see is what you get,” she said. 

‘They were gems’

The unpretentious nature of the couple is something Tony Young also touched on when speaking to CBC in his downtown office. 

“They were gems. They were very special people,” said Young, the former military aide-to-camp for John Crosbie when he was lieutenant-governor.  

Tony Young stands beside Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie at a Remembrance Day ceremony in St. John’s. (Submitted )

Young spent a lot of time with the Crosbies during their period in Government House. As an aide-de-camp, his job was to accompany the lieutenant-governor to official events. 

“At times, you know, Mr. Crosbie could be a little rough around the edges. But inside was this teddy bear who really looked after people. Mrs. Crosbie always made it the point of asking about my children — where they were, how they were doing,” said Young. 

One memory that sticks out is the time he accompanied the Crosbies on a vice-regal cruise of Newfoundland’s south coast. 

The trip was on a Canadian warship and Young says one fact of navy sailing is that everything is up close and personal.

That did not faze the Crosbies in the least. 

“Seeing them adjust to their lifestyle on board, they were so easy to roll with the punches and just pick up and go,” he said. 

Young also says the whole crew got a kick when John came to meet Jane on the bridge while wearing a Viking helmet he had smuggled on board. 

John Crosbie arrives at Confederation Building in March 2010 with his wife Jane Crosbie to read the throne speech. (Paul Daly/The Canadian Press)

“He said, ‘I’ve been at sea for a day now,’ and he said, ‘I’m feeling like a sailor already,” Young said as he chuckled. 

Young paused, then added, “Just little things like that you know. There are so many moments. And he will be sadly missed.”

John and Jane Crosbie celebrate his win in St. John’s West during the 1988 federal election. (CBC)

Guy Murphy said her conversations with Jane Crosbie over the years demonstrate how their love carried them through life.  

“They had it in their private life, they had it in their public life, and they passed it on to their children,” she said. 

Speaking about John Crosbie, Guy Murphy ended with this: 

“A person who has lived his life in such love, companionship and service. Wow. Pretty darn good. And that’s why this whole flippin’ country is mourning.” 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador 

John and Jane Crosbie: ‘Just a brilliant couple to be around’

Aggregated from: CBC | Newfoundland and Labrador News

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