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Jackie Crossland

Theatre actor, writer, director, administrator, visual artist. Born March 8, 1943, in Barrie, Ont., died May 30, 2012, in Vancouver of cancer, aged 69.

Jackie was born in Barrie, Ont., in 1943 to Ruby Spooner, who died in childbirth, and Jack Crossland. She grew up in Northern Ontario, in Port Arthur and Fort William. She left home and school at the age of 16 to go to work, and a few years later married Joseph Menendez and moved to Vancouver.

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She was working as a nanny in West Vancouver when she decided to get her high-school equivalency because she wanted to work at the Hudson's Bay Company. One of her teachers encouraged her to go on to university.

At Simon Fraser University in the early 1970s, she became involved in extracurricular theatre projects, and after graduating, Jackie acted, wrote and directed for several theatre companies in Vancouver and Toronto.

She had a speaking role in Robert Altman's film McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and played a recurring character (Nurse Bea Cross) in TheBeachcombers TV series, among her many film and TV credits.

Jackie then began to do theatre with street kids. This work led to her becoming the administrator of Low Cost Labour, a landscaping and lawn-cutting service that employed street-involved youngsters. She made many friends there who remained important to her for the rest of her life.

For a time she ran her own arts administration business, Crossland Consulting, helping artists do the things she'd needed help with early on, such as writing grant and job applications. From there she became an administrator for Headlines Theatre and Public Dreams.

Jackie loved beauty, and decorated everything around her. She created acrylic paintings, collages and tile mosaics on tables, chairs, doors, walls and floors. She decorated her clothes, shoes and walking canes, and in summer she wore a wide-brimmed straw hat embellished with a scarf and a feather or two, anchored with the perfect bit of costume jewellery.

In 1988, Jackie and Nora D. Randall fell in love and started their life partnership, as well as the theatre and storytelling company Random Acts. Together they wrote, produced and directed stories about lesbians and working women that were presented in festivals in Canada and the United States. Collateral Damage and The House of Agnes were picked as Best of the Vancouver Fringe. Jackie and Nora also toured the province and told stories at many labour gatherings.

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After retiring from Headlines Theatre in 2008, Jackie returned to painting as her major artistic expression.

It was only one month after her cancer diagnosis that Jackie died, on May 30. At the end, she had a room with a view, surrounded by love and beauty, the two most important things to her. She is deeply missed.

Nora D. Randall is Jackie's life partner.

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