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These very personal words of tribute were spoken by Tony Etherton, B'nai
B'rith UK National Treasurer, at the funeral of his wife, Jean (nee Spitz
B.Sc., Dipl. Inf. Sc.), Honorary Life President of B'nai B'rith UK. We are most
grateful to Tony and his family for allowing B'nai B'rith to use them as a most
fitting obituary to Jean.

Jean Etherton

Next March Jean and I would have been married for 50 years. This may sound like a
long time but it has gone in a flash. Jean came from the small mill town of Glossop
in Derbyshire. Her parents were refugees from the Anschluss in Austria and found a
safe haven in Glossop where they were offered work and acceptance. She attended
the local grammar school where she excelled and became head girl. If you read her
old school reports you will find teacher's comments full of praise for her diligence
and intellect.
When she left school she came to study pure chemistry at Battersea College which
was part of London University. The college was also a College of Advanced
Technology where I was studying electrical engineering. Of course we both joined
the Jewish Society and so it happened. We got married after Jean returned from
working in the laboratory of a paper mill in Hadera in Israel.
At first we rented a flat in Golders Green and Jean worked as a patent researcher
for the Distillers Company. Soon I started my own business and we moved to our
first modest house in Stanmore and started a family. Jean loved working and even
when she was in the maternity ward at Edgware, she was preparing patent
abstract. Our daughter, Jennifer arrived and not long after, our son Michael. Even
this couldn't tie Jean down and she enrolled on a post graduate course in
Information Technology.
Once both children were at school Jean found a job as head of the library and
information department at the prestigious Institute of Petroleum. This was a job
she loved and worked to develop and it is a credit to Jean that we have her old
boss, the Senior Executive of the Institute with us today.
As business developed we were able to move houses until we arrived at our
present house on Little Common. But Jean was never ambitious in this respect. She
was always a woman who was contented and satisfied with her lot.
With children we became involved with our Synagogue, the Edgware Reform and
for many years immersed ourselves in the Israel Group at a time when Israel was
still a pioneering country. Later on, Jean took responsibility for the library.
The rabbi of our synagogue, the late Michael Leigh became the first president of a
new B'nai B'rith Lodge called Yitzchak Rabin and we followed him into the Lodge.
Initially we were just rank and file members but gradually Jean's talents shone
through and she went on to become president of the Lodge and finally President of
the B'nai B'rith movement in the United Kingdom.
She was a woman who enjoyed life and all it offered but she was always happy and
satisfied with what she had. She was admired for her integrity and dedication and,
as a testament to that, the family has received condolences from all around the
world from people whose lives Jean has touched.
For me, Jean was a lover, a friend, an adviser, a supporter, a confidante, a pal. Our
likes and dislikes were amazingly attuned. Even on long trips in the Lotus, a car built
for performance and not comfort, she endured stoically and without complaint.
Jean believed with all her heart in the three founding principles of B'nai B'rith and
how it improves people's lives all over the world. Straight after breakfast she went
to write up her notes on our recent B'nai B'rith trip to Israel that she enjoyed so
much. She was working on this when she developed a terrible headache which
soon turned into a massive brain haemorrhage. Within a few hours this bright and
lovely woman was dead. The ambulance service and staff at Barnet hospital were
absolutely marvellous but they couldn't do anything about what was to be. The
photograph on my iPhone taken just a few weeks before shows a woman radiant
and enjoying life. Her departure leaves a hole in the life of her children Jennifer and
Michael and her brother John. For us, nothing will be the same again. She is very
proud of how her children came in and oversee all the work quietly and without
fuss and I speak in the present tense because Jean will always be with me in my
So she thanks you all for coming and supporting her and her family.
We thank dear Rabbi Kraft for officiating. He knows both Jean and myself. Not for
our religious observance, but for our support and belief in Judaism.