Mary Beth Jennings


Mary Beth Jennings, PhD

On May 5 after a lovely and temperate Spring day with the magnolia and early flowering bulbs heralding Spring's arrival, Beth passed on into the twilight with Craig by her side at home. It was her time. She was at peace. Beth had a long journey with Ewing's sarcoma, but on her terms, she always vowed to take the high road and keep going.

Beth was a proud Sudburian at heart and was born into an extended family with 3 generations living under one roof. She was a quick learner and as a child acquired tailoring skills from her Orcadian grandfather, Thomas Linklater, who ran a very popular tailor shop in Sudbury for many years specializing in men's hats, suits and furnishings. When he became blind and deaf in one ear Beth became aware of how hearing loss can profoundly affect a person's communication and she worked diligently to communicate with her Grandpapa. As their eldest child, her parents, Barbara and Gordon instilled in her and her brother Grant the Presbyterian family values of responsibility, compassion, respect and kindness.

At Laurentian University, Beth, a bright student, completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology.  
Along with fellow student, Jean-Pierre Gagne, Beth took courses in Sensation and Perception and Psychology of Hearing with Dr. R. H. Farrant who persuaded both of them to pursue a degree in Audiology. She completed a Master of Clinical Science (Audiology) Degree and later a PhD in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University in London, ON. J.-P. Gagne also obtained his PhD and subsequently became the Director of the École d’orthophonie et d’audiologie at the Université
de Montréal. Over the years, both J.-P. and Beth collaborated on several research articles.
Beth was a pioneer in her field in that she recognized that hearing technology was the start of a person's hearing rehabilitation. She started work as an audiologist at the Canadian Hearing Society in Toronto where she developed and ran hearing help classes for adults with hearing loss. She was the driving force in providing an Elderhostel program that ran for 10 years. Through therapeutic community-based aural rehabilitation programs Beth encouraged individuals living with hearing loss to overcome their difficulties in understanding speech and improve their communication skills in the workplace, and in real-life social environments such as restaurants, sporting events, concerts, and theatre outings. On secondment from C.H.S., Beth participated in a research project in Dundas, ON that focused on hearing rehabilitation programmes in retirement homes. That project is what sparked her interest in research.

Beth was as an Associate Professor and for the past 20 years a faculty member in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Western University and an Associate in the National Centre for Audiology. Beth supervised, mentored and 'mothered' many Master of Clinical Science students in Aural Rehabilitation practicums as well as several MSc and PhD students. Beth provided significant contributions to audiology research, and the training of audiology and speech-language pathology students world-wide, but especially in Canada. Even in her last years, she remained a strong and committed research supervisor, editing a dissertation between surgery and rounds of chemotherapy. Her work in adult aural rehabilitation, family-centred care and counselling, innovations in workplace accessibility and participation for persons with hearing loss, social stigma and universal design for hearing loss is well known.

Beth was highly regarded within the global audiological community and was a frequent invited speaker at Canadian and international conferences where she shared her friendship, research and clinical knowledge. Beth was an innovative practitioner, researcher, teacher and her legacy is vast. Beth collaborated and published over 50 articles, and many book chapters, including one just recently published. Beth did her very best, every moment, to create a better future for people living with hearing loss. Many adults with hearing loss lead more active and participatory lives due to her insight, empathy, and wisdom. She will be greatly missed by all those who knew her.

During her career she developed many lasting friendships with colleagues in Canada, U.S.A., Europe and Australia. She was always the first on board to plan the menus for family events and the first caller online to book season tickets for the Stratford and Shaw Festivals which was an annual family outing. She maintained her skills in the rag trade and knitted many intricate patterned garments and took up felting just this past year. A keen reader, she proposed to read a huge collection of literature during her illness. Her hidden talents included playing piano and bagpipes, figure skating, culinary artist, tap dancer, orchid grower and want-to-be archeologist.

Predeceased by her mother Barbara (Linklater), she will be forever remembered by Craig, her partner, Gordon, her father, her brother Grant (Christine), nephew Collin and nieces Brittany and Brianne. She will be missed by many in-laws, relatives, friends, and work colleagues.  

A huge round of applause goes out to the entire healthcare team that allowed Beth to spend her last 7 weeks in the comfort of her home during very challenging times. This includes her PSW, Maria, the LHIN Co-ordinator Susan Arnold, Dr. Namita Kanwar, and the nursing staff including Ewa, Florence, Sara and Paolo who along with the medication injected a shot of compassion and kindness. We also owe a great debt of gratitude to Dr.'s Orsini, Bertrand and Oncologists Dr. Welsh and Dr. D'Souza, and all the nurses and staff at the London Regional Cancer Program and the Oncology Unit at Victoria Hospital.   

Beth valued and appreciated the patience, understanding and support from everyone who helped her during her illness, this includes the many family, friends, and neighbours who supported her on her journey. Many thanks to the women at St. James Lutheran Church in New Dundee for handcrafting the finely knitted prayer blanket that provided Beth with great comfort.
A service and interment at Parklawn Cemetery in Sudbury are being planned for a later date.

Arrangements entrusted with A. Millard George Funeral Home, 519-433-5184. Online condolences, memories and photographs shared at

'Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May. And summer's lease hath all too short a date.'