July 2, 1914 — July 3, 2011
LEMYRE, Rita went to be with the Lord on Sunday, July 3, 2011 at the age of 97. She was born on July 2, 1914, in Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan. Her father, Henri Lemyre was a pioneer in the Gravelbourg district, having come in 1907 from St Justin de Maskinongé, province of Québec. Rita’s mother, Eva Dureault, was originally from Fannystelle, Manitoba; she was a teacher at Piché School west of Gravelbourg before she married Henri. Two other daughters followed Rita: Ethel in 1918 and Rolande in 1921. Eva passed away when the girls were very young; Rita became the “guardian angel” of her two sisters. The little girls were boarders at the convent of Jesus-Mary in Gravelbourg where they continued their schooling. Rita was a good student, she loved books and she loved learning.
In 1937, Rita’s dad married Berthe Morissette; they had four children; Henri, who died at three years old, Alain (Jack), Claudette, and Marcel who passed away in 1991.
In 1939, Rita joined the telephone system at Gravelbourg. Those were the days when you called the operator in order to make a call, even in town; the operator used to say, “Number please?” and then would manually connect the two lines. Rita liked her work and was appreciated as she was perfectly bilingual; some of the operators remained lifelong friends. In 1962, Rita transferred to Assiniboia, Sask. Two years later, she received her 25 year pin from Saskatchewan Government Telephones.
When Rita retired from work, she moved to Nelson, B.C. where Ethel was living with her family. Rita lived in Nelson for many years, learning to love the mountains as she had loved the prairies. She enjoyed flowers and often planted petunias on her balcony: they bloomed gloriously under her tender loving care. One of her favorites was the sunflower: she said her Dad used to plant them around the garden, like a fence. Rita also loved baking and she had her specialties. When Christmas came around, she baked her own marshmallows, shortbread cookies and Christmas fruit cake. For many years, she carefully packed some of her goodies and sent care packages.
Rita always liked reading; she especially enjoyed biographies and liked to find out about different countries and customs. She had beautiful handwriting and enjoyed writing letters to keep in touch with family and friends. For a few years, she was a volunteer and helped out in the French class for a school in Nelson. She liked shopping for clothes and had good taste. She had a natural politeness about her and, as a friend commented once, “such a winning smile!” On sunny days, her eyes were the brightest blue! She had a good sense of humor and quick wit; right until the end, she surprised us with her swift repartee!
Her faith in God was an important part of Rita’s life and every night, she remembered her evening prayers. She liked to pray the rosary. Someone once asked her what she did during her sleepless nights; “Sometimes, I pray,” was her reply.
Throughout her life, Rita was challenged with sickness. She would recover, gain strength, and then have another round of illness. Through those hard times family and friends helped as much as they could. Rita especially enjoyed the affection of Little Rita’s children, Lauren and Evan. Eventually, Rollie also moved to Nelson and so the three sisters were together once again. Different moves and different adventures–little did anyone (least of all, she herself!) think that Rita would live to be close to a hundred!
The last move was to Kelowna where the three sisters were able to live in the comfort of Sandalwood Resort for a few years. When Rita became too weak to take care of herself, she was moved to Cottonwood Care Center where she received good care. There, during these past years, she was graced with the presence of a special angel, Elaine Hatch, a volunteer, who became a faithful friend. Our family owes a great debt of gratitude to Elaine for her unrelenting loving-kindness towards Rita, right until the very end.
Rita’s birthday was on July 2nd. Her birthday, coming right after Canada Day, was always a family celebration. Pictures show everyone clustering around Rita and her cake!
This year, the good Lord came for Rita early in the morning of July 3rd. The day before was her birthday; in the early afternoon, Rollie was there with her daughter, Sherri. When the phone rang, Rita was too weak to pick up the phone and talk; but she could hear. Sherri put the receiver to Rita’s ear. That day, Rita felt the presence and heard the voices of her family, gathered once again for her birthday. Rita was wrapped up in love and the assurance of our prayers for her final journey. Perhaps that was what she was waiting for because the next morning she had gone to be with her loving Lord.
Good bye Rita. We will miss your lovely smile and your hearty laugh. We look forward to being around you once again, at the Big Banquet.
Rita was preceded in death by her mother, Eva, her father, Henri and her brother, Marcel. She leaves to mourn, her sister, Ethel and niece Rita (Bruce) Klenk and their children, Lauren and Evan; her sister, Rollie and niece Sherri (Brad) Gagnon; her brother Alain (Eunice), niece Anne-Marie and nephew David (Patti) and their children, Tyler and Alison; her sister, Claudette who is a Sister of Jesus and Mary. A Funeral Service will be held at Springfield Funeral Home, 2020 Springfield Road, Kelowna, BC on Saturday, July 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm. Interment will take place in Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society, 1633 Pandosy Street, Kelowna, BC V1Y 1P6. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.springfieldfuneralhome.com, 250-860-7077.
The service for Rita Lemyre is scheduled for Saturday, July 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm. Below you will find the map for the service location and the contact information should you have any questions.