15 June 1939 – 21 February 2021
Friend and former IFWLA President Fiona Clark, a member of the World Lacrosse Board of Directors, today paid tribute to fellow IFWLA Officer, Jenny Kyle, who passed peacefully away Sunday 21 February 2021, with her loving husband of over 60 years, by her bedside.
Born in Hong Kong, the daughter of a British soldier, Jenny, along with her mother, sister and brother fled to the Philippines, but were taken captive at the Los Baños prison camp when the Japanese took control. For three years (from the age of 3-6) they lived in cramped quarters with only meagre rations of rice to eat, and guards who became increasingly brutal and would eventually make plans to kill them. They were released when the war ended. The family eventually settled in England and it was there that Jenny learned to play lacrosse as a schoolgirl and went on to captain her school team. Jenny then moved to Canada in the 1960’s to marry Fergus, an Air Canada pilot, and they went on to have three children. Jenny passed her love of the game on to her daughter, Liz, (dec.), and her involvement in the sport grew as she travelled throughout Ontario to watch Liz play. Then, at the grand age of 42 Jenny picked up her stick again, dusted off the cobwebs, and took to the field to play alongside her daughter with the Mississauga Wings!
Jenny’s international lacrosse journey started in 1982 when she was named Manager of the Women’s Canadian Team at the inaugural IFWLA World Cup in Nottingham, England. Jenny then went on to be Canada’s delegate at the 1985 IFWLA Conference, and within 12 months had undertaken the role of IFWLA Vice President Tours and Tournaments, a position she served in for 6 years, spear-heading the competition at both the 1986 IFWLA World Cup in Swarthmore, USA, and the 1989 IFWLA World Cup in Perth, Western Australia wherein her role saw her double as a Technical Delegate alongside Lanetta Ware and Jan Jackson.
I first met Jenny in 1987 when I was Australia’s delegate to my first IFWLA Conference in Cardiff. Nervous, and in awe of being in the presence of our global leaders in the sport, Jenny took me ‘under her wing,’ and so started a lifetime of friendship, camaraderie, and many fun times together. Little did I know then that I was also destined to become Jenny’s successor in 1991!
People have different memories of the times they shared with Jenny, but there is a consistency in the words used to describe her underlying traits ~ she was passionate, kind, generous, caring, committed, humorous, fair, loyal, humble, and determined. I witnessed all these rare qualities first-hand at lacrosse events, and when I spent many vacations with Jenny and Ferg at their home in Burlington, fondly referred to as the “Woodcutters Cottage.”
Jenny always believed that each day should include some pure moment that we should consider ourselves blessed to have experienced, and that often it is the day-to-day gestures of kindness from others, and the friendships we make along the way, that add to who we are as human beings.
Very good friend Carol Patterson writes “Jenny and I have been friends for over 39 years. Our friendship began because of our mutual love of lacrosse but continued as our families became close.
Jenny, Ferg, Wes and I had many adventures throughout the world together. From getting lost on backroads in England, bouncing through New Zealand and surviving an air strike in Australia during the 1989 World Cup – our lives together were never boring.
Jenny always had a welcome sign on her front door. She hosted numerous touring lacrosse teams from around the world, lots of friends and tons of “friends of friends” and welcomed all into her home. Her husband, Ferg, would have your country flag flying out front and on occasion a doorbell would play your national anthem.
It is hard for me to say goodbye to a great friend but memories of good times, lots of fun and laughter will always remain with me. Love you Jen!”
In 1990 Jenny undertook the role as Chair of the International Patrons Club, and during her six years at the helm she was instrumental in raising much-needed funds for the IFWLA working with the Patron Chairs in various countries, before handing over the reins to her successor, Jackie Pitts. Jenny quoted “The position is a most enjoyable way of keeping in touch with lacrosse friends around the world. The IFWLA works very hard to keep our game expanding throughout the world and the Officers work long hours. On their behalf I thank every Patron, and especially the Patron’s Co-ordinators in each country for their past and future support.” In the November 1996 edition of the IFWLA newsletter the following acknowledgment was made to Jenny “The IFWLA and members of the International Patron’s Club say Thank You to Jenny Kyle for all her hard-working efforts as the inaugural Chair of the Club. Jenny is well known throughout the international lacrosse world for her commitment to our sport. Jenny has brought to this position enthusiasm, opportunity and a sense of pride and belonging in being part of this big International Lacrosse family.”
Jenny worked quietly, and tirelessly, behind the scenes in Canada to help grow the sport and to develop young players. Athletes were always at the heart of whatever she did, and in 1994 she donated the ‘U19 Canadian Junior Championship Trophy,’ which is named in her honour. It seems fitting that the IFWLA U19 World Championship was the last public lacrosse event which Jenny attended, and whilst it was planned for her to present ‘her’ Kyle Cup unfortunately ill-health prevented this.
Joanne Stanga, (former Ontario Women’s Field Lacrosse Commissioner/ and CLA Women’s Sector Chair), shared these words. “To me, Jenny was the kind of person that when she spoke, you wanted to listen. Whether it was with that serious look when she was passing something on that she knew you would need to grow in your role, or in the lighter moments when she was in storytelling mode making us all laugh, including herself. How fortunate we were to have known such a wonderful role model, advocate and unwavering supporter.”
Jenny’s incredible life was indeed one of humanity, her knowledge and intellect were impressive, and she enjoyed wide-ranging and varied interests, which included teaching mediaeval brass rubbing, playing the bassoon in 2 orchestras, being a member of the church choir, bell ringing, and trekking.
Those of us who have had the privilege of knowing Jenny, and experiencing her friendship, her warm and generous nature, her generosity of spirit, and her passion for life, have indeed been fortunate. She cast a brilliant light on all those who were lucky enough to know her, and someone that special, who contributed so much to our sport, shall never be forgotten. Jenny’s memory shall always shine on. May she rest in eternal Peace.
Jenny is survived by her husband Fergus, sons Jamie and Peter, daughters-in-law Renee and Julie, and five grandchildren. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jenny’s family and friends at this sad time.
“And whilst our hearts are heavy, and our tears are not yet dry,
We wish we had another chance so we could say goodbye.
We’ll reminisce, remember, we’ll cry, we’ll laugh, we’ll grieve.
But most of all we’ll miss Jenny more than she would believe.”