WITH her birthday card from the Queen held proudly in her hands, Jean Faux smiled warmly for the cameras as she celebrated turning 100 at the Harold McCauley House on Thursday past.
In front of dozens of her friends and family, Jean’s eyes twinkled again when she cut her milestone cake, fittingly decorated with royal golds and purples, and there was a sense of nostalgia as those attending the party reminisced on the long and purposeful life that the former Omagh Academy pupil and teacher has served.
Indeed even the spring sun joined in with the festivities and flooded through the windows as Jean was also greeted by all kinds of special guests, including Omagh Academy head teacher, Ruth Maxwell, and Jane Nelson, minister of First Omagh Presbyterian Church – a church of which Jean is presently the eldest member.
Appearances by former pupils, the Right Reverend Dr Charles McMullen, the current Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and Ruth Elkin, principal of Omagh High School, also made the special birthday even more exciting for the local centenarian.
Life and legacy
Jean was born on the May 16, 1919 in Scotshouse, Co Monaghan, where her father was a Sergeant in the RIC.
However, when the RUC was formed in the early 1920s, her father moved to Trillick to run the police station and after a few years he moved to Omagh and the family lived in the old Gaol House.
On retirement from the RUC in 1931 he bought a farm in Clanabogan, and this was the family home until 1984.
Jean had three sisters, Elsie Stewart, Martha Faux, and Ruby Sloan, and they were a very close family unit who were all educated at Omagh Academy.
Incidentally, when Jean first went to the ‘Academy’, it was situated where SuperValu is at present before moving to the new building on its current site on the Dublin Road.
In her final year, she was a school prefect and captain of the girls’ 1st XI hockey.
Upon leaving Omagh Academy, Jean went to the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science before teaching in two schools in England.
But in 1942, she returned to teach in her beloved Omagh Academy, where she spent the rest of her career.
“She was very much respected by those she taught and by her colleagues,” explained Jean’s nephew, Malcolm Sloan.
“She was appointed senior mistress in 1970 and then second vice-principal in 1973, retiring in 1978.”
After retiring, Jean lived with her sisters Elsie and Martha in Clanabogan but in 1984, Clanabogan was sold and the site became the Camphill Community.
The family, particularly Jean and Elsie, were very involved in fundraising and both served terms as chair of the management committee.
When Martha and Elsie sadly passed away, Jean continued to live at 35 Dublin Road by herself.
But as she grew older, she required support and eventually moved in to Harold McCauley House in January 2016.
“Here, she has been very content, and is being extremely well looked after,” Malcolm described.
“She enjoyed her 100th birthday party surrounded by a wide group of her friends and family.”