Thursday, January 8, 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday (January 8, 2015) -- The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and Kathleen L. Jeffs

As stated in Wikipedia, The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is "the most junior and most populous order of chivalry in the British and other Commonwealth honours system." The Order was established by King George V on June 4, 1917.  There are five levels, ranks, or classes and both civilian and military divisions.  The five levels from most senior to most junior are as follows:

     1.  Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross of The Most Excellent Order of the
          British Empire (GBE).
     2.  Knight Commander or Dame Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British
          Empire (KBE or DBE).
     3.  Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British
          Empire (CBE).
     4.  Officer of The Most Excellent Order of the British
          Empire (OBE).
     5.  Member of The Most Excellent Order of the British
          Empire (MBE).

Kathleen Lorena Jeffs is the sister of my wife's maternal grandmother and thus is Molly's grand aunt, the great grand aunt of our two sons, and the 2nd great grand aunt of our granddaughter, Nora W. Tew. Kathleen, known as "Kay," was born on January 21, 1897 in Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada. She died October 31, 1948 in Toronto.

During World War II, Kay served in the Royal Canadian Air Force (R.C.A.F.) and rose to the rank of Wing Officer in the Women's Division (equivalent to Wing Commander). Kay was working as a dietician with the T. Eaton Co., Ltd. when the R.C.A.F. decided it was necessary to reorganize the food services for its forces during World War II.  Kay was "loaned" to the R.C.A.F. for the duration of the war and became the first woman entrusted with responsibility for organizing the food services for any of the Canadian armed forces. One hundred twenty-five dieticians served under Wing Officer Kay Jeffs at various stations in Canada and England during the war. For her dedicated and successful service she was awarded the Order of the British Empire (MBE). The MBE shown above is that of Kathleen L. Jeffs.

Kay Jeffs on the occasion of receiving the MBE.  Her sister, Eulalie Jeffs, admires the award and Eulalie's husband, Dr. G. Douglas Jeffs looks on.  Eulalie and G. Douglas Jeffs are Molly's maternal grandparents.

Kay Jeffs was a 1923 graduate of the University of Toronto. Her portrait was later presented to the Univeristy by the Messing Officers of the Women's Division of the R.C.A.F. in appreciation for her outstanding service as Senior Messing Officer Royal Canadian Air Force 1942 - 1945.  The portrait (shown below) was hung in the Household Science Building, University of Toronto.

Kay Jeffs and her teacher/mentor at the University of Toronto, Violet M. Ryley, are considered two of the pioneers of the dietetic field in Canada and dieticians across Canada established the Violet Ryley - Kathleen Jeffs Foundation in their honor.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The original M.B.E. is now in the Jeffs/O'Kane/Tew family collection.

Originals of all photographs and articles shown above are also in the family collection.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 


  1. Read your entire post, and am quite impressed with Kay's accomplishments. Sad that she died so young.

    1. I agree Barbara. She died way too young, but she sure accomplished a lot in the time she had. I wish I had been able to meet her! Her sister, my wife's grandmother, lived to be almost 91 and I knew her for over eight years.

      BTW, there is a mention in today's Saturday Serendipity of your Prince Spaghetti post.