In Memoriam | Spring 2020 | NEXUS Magazine | The Faculty of Law | UNB

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In Memoriam

Constance (Connie) Petrie (LLB ’85)

4 December 1943 – 20 September 2020

In September, Constance (Connie) Petrie passed away peacefully, leaving behind a legacy of love and compassion.

Connie was born in 1943 in Montreal to parents Mary (Gallagher) and John Kilburn. She received her high school diploma from Marymount College in Quebec City in 1961 and graduated from the NB Teacher's College the following year. She taught at St. Dunstan’s school in Fredericton before receiving her Bachelor of Arts from St. Thomas University in 1975. In 1985, Connie graduated with her LLB from UNB Law and was admitted to the NB Bar that same year. She proudly served as a legal research assistant to her husband of 50 years J. Gordon Petrie, QC (BCL ’64, and LLD ’09) until her retirement in 2000.

Connie is remembered for her thoughtfulness and her caring and compassionate nature. One of her most beloved pursuits in life was her 15 years of work with the Kindness Club, an organization promoting the philosophy that children who learn kindness to animals and the environment grow up being kind and respectful to others.

“She believed in the importance of peace and the social justice movement long before they were in vogue,” said her son Jamie Petrie (LLB ’94) at her celebration of life service. “I think the reason that mum connected so deeply with so many people is that she sincerely and unequivocally cared about you. There was nothing fake or superficial about mum. When she spoke to you, she listened intently and without judgment. She wanted to hear what you were saying, she wanted to understand what you were going through, and she was legitimately interested in your experience.”

One of her proudest achievements was the creation of her website, which she established as an independent goodwill venture to provide information, promote knowledge, and foster multi-cultural understanding, all in the spirit of peace and friendship.

Connie’s compassion was undeniable. Her son, The Hon. Justice Richard Petrie (LLB ’90), remembers his mother’s selfless nature, even in her final days.

“My mother was the single most positive and considerate person that I have ever known. Every word of mom’s obituary and the entire service was planned by mom and put in her writing approximately two years ago. A couple of days before mom passed, she told me that she had already prepared for these events, ‘not to burden her boys.’ Right to the end, mom thought of others. That is just the way she was.” 

“She was always there for us,” adds Jamie, “putting her personal needs behind that of her family. Which is crazy when you think of how many years she attended St. Thomas and UNB Law school, working hard on her studies all while we were growing up. I remember many mornings coming down for breakfast and mom had been up all night studying her case law in order to squeeze in her studies after we all went to bed. Having studied all those same law courses I am honestly not sure how she pulled that all off.”

Connie had an adventurous spirit and loved to travel. She visited many countries with her husband and travel partner Gordon. She adored flowers—their natural beauty and fragrance—and surrounded herself with her signature cream and peach bouquets.

“They were everywhere in her house. Some weeks we saw the Trites delivery van more that we saw our father,” joked Jamie.

She was active, and in her day, was an enthusiastic skier, skater, and golfer. She loved to spend time outdoors, walking along the St. John River, and spending her summers at Robertson Point on Grand Lake.

Connie was a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. She is especially missed by her three devoted sons and their families: Justice Richard Petrie, wife Margot and grandson Andrew; Jamie Petrie, wife Gisèle and granddaughters Anna and Naomi; Richard Mannering, wife Sylvie and granddaughters Emilie (Fouad), Sarah (Jonathan) and Julie (Denis). One of six children, Connie also leaves behind her sister Barbara McCormack (Danny) and brothers Paddy (Marilyn) and Michael Kilburn. She is also survived by twelve special nieces and nephews whom she held dear.