Aunt Betty died earlier today. I spoke with her on Saturday and she was quite breathless but asked what everybody was up to and was pleased to get news. Sometime on Sunday she slipped into a coma and she died peacefully this afternoon. Her memorial service is next Saturday so I will go to Winnipeg for a few days.
Elizabeth “Betty” passed away in Winnipeg, April 10, 2009.
Born in Orloff, Zagradovka Mennonite Settlement, Kherson Oblast, Ukraine on July 2, 1926, Elizabeth emigrated to Canada later the same year with her family, settling first in Wolseley, Saskatchewan and four years relocating to Niverville in the East Reserve lands in southern Manitoba where her grandparents had settled. Betty, a “tomboy” according to her brothers whom she followed around, often into trouble, enjoyed her childhood. Her memories of this happy time were the grist for her book, The Singing Kettle, which she wrote, illustrated and published in the late 1990s.
After finishing school Elizabeth, like many young Mennonite women at the time, moved to Winnipeg to find work. She settled with the Dawson family who took her under their wing, paying her tuition at Angus Business College and providing lodging in exchange for light housekeeping. Elizabeth subsequently followed an office career which had her working in a number of well known Winnipeg businesses – D. Ackland and Son, British-American Oil and the Canadian Automobile Association among others. Although she remained single she was diligent in seeking fulfillment through her artistic abilities.
Elizabeth was a talented artist. A prolific painter, she was also an innovative promoter of her work. She made an arrangement with Ben Berman to keep the walls of his Modern Upholstery showroom filled with her paintings which people purchased along with their furniture. She was also proud to have one of her paintings selected for the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s 1969 Manitoba Society of Artists show.
“Aunt Betty”, retained a strong interest in her extended family. At family gatherings she always brought along an art project for her young nieces and nephews, her flash camera capturing the ensuing activity.
Elizabeth took early retirement and moved from painting to writing. She became an avid researcher of both family and Manitoba history, producing numerous stories and articles, her youthful memoir and an extensive and thorough family genealogy which included still more family stories. She remained indebted to the Winnipeg Centennial Library and the Winnipeg chapter of the Canadian Writers Association for the encouragement and development of her writing interests.
Her enthusiasm and energy will be greatly missed.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, April 18, 2009.