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Mary Whiting

March 5, 1922 September 8, 2016
Mary  Whiting
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Obituary for Mary Whiting

On Thursday, September 8, 2016, at the Lloydminster Hospital, we lost our beloved Mom, Grandma, Great Grandma and friend, Mary Whiting, at the age of 94 ½. Mary was born in Lloydminster SK to John Mason Bottomley (Pop) and Rose Bottomley on March 5, 1922. She was predeceased by her loving husband Bernard on January 30, 1996, two grandchildren, Diana Rae Byrt and Justin Byrt, and all the Bottomley & Whiting siblings & their spouses.

Mom will be sadly missed by daughters: Wyn Baert (Gerry), Pat Creech (Mac) of Lloydminster and Gena Whiting (Ron Andreychuk) from Ponoka AB; 6 Grandchildren: Ken & Noelia Baert, Doug & Kristy Baert, Robin and Mark Cathro of Calgary, Lee Creech of Kingsville TX, Cody Creech, and Kristen Byrt-Ehnes (Toby Ehnes) of Kitscoty. 8 Precious Great Grandchildren: Danika, and twins Briar and Bryce Baert, Mason and Cassidy Ehnes, Devry Baert, and Hannah and Grayson Cathro. Mary is also survived by Clayton Byrt, Father of Kristen; Special Sister, Willma Herrick of Edmonton, and many nieces and nephews and long-time friends.

A celebration of Life for Mary was conducted from St. John’s Anglican Church on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 2:00 with Archdeacon Michael Stonhouse officiating. The Pianist was Michelle Andres, Jeanine Hatchard was the Vocal Soloist, and Robin Cathro played two Saxophone duets accompanied by Michelle. Mac Creech gave a touching and humorous tribute to Mary. The Recessional CD was “Time to Say Goodbye” by Andrea Bocelli.

Honorary Pallbearers were grandchildren: Ken Baert, Doug Baert, Robin Cathro, Lee Creech, Cody Creech and Kristen Byrt-Ehnes, and long-time friends, Gene and Bill Till.
Jean Fisher was the Urn Bearer.

St. John’s Anglican Church ladies provided the lunch and Creech’s Funeral Home of Lloydminster administered the funeral arrangements. Interment was at the Lloydminster City Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to: Kiwanis Lloydminster and District Music Festival Association, Lloydminster Regional Health Care Foundation or the Lloyd Rescue Squad

Musical Memories of Grandma
By Robin Cathro (Creech)

I always knew Grandma had a piano and used to be a piano teacher, but I hadn’t really heard her play it much. I was 14 years old and was entering my first year of music festival. I needed an accompanist to play the piano with me for my saxophone solos. Mom said, “You know, Grandma could accompany you. She used to be really good and teach lessons –she accompanied me too when I was in music festival.” I remember thinking, “Grandma? She could?” With Mom’s encouragement, I asked her if she would accompany me and she said yes. That was the start of our playing together and the beginning of my musical journey with Grandma.

She was a bit rusty at first – she hadn’t played much in the last 50 odd years – but the piano moved upstairs from the basement to the living room and she began to practice. A typical rehearsal started with me walking over to Grandma’s house, saxophone case slung over my shoulder. She would start by asking me, “So, have you been practicing?” I would reply, guiltily, “No…errrr…a bit.” She would give me a scolding look. Then I would ask, “Have you?” She’d shake her head and say “Not really” or “I haven’t either or “well….” Looking back, we could be a bit of a bad influence on each other! Despite our lack of discipline at times, we eventually always did practice and made what we thought was some beautiful music together. We had quite a lot of fun too – often bursting out laughing when we made mistakes, if I had a crazy squeak or squawk, or if we got lost in our counting. Sometimes we’d end the piece at different times and have a good chuckle. One time in a year end concert my eyes skipped a line in the music and I couldn’t figure out how to get back in. Like a good accompanist, she kept playing, hoping I’d eventually figure it out. Finally, I had to walk over to the piano, stop her and say “Grandma, can we go back to the Pui Lento?” We carried on. Every once and awhile we both played well, would end together and it would be magical. We would both sigh and she would nod and say “pretty little piece” and I would say “Yes.” And away we’d go again. Some days I stayed all day, her offering me orange juice, then lunch, then supper. More than once I walked home in the dark under the stars.

I was taking music lessons at the Lakeland College Conservatory at this time and it was determined that Grandma should drive me to my lessons. She would pick me up, take me to Tim Hortons for a donut (this was long before her daily Tims coffee days) and drive me over in her Parisienne. We continued to do music festival pieces together every year, but when some of them were more difficult, we called in the heavy hitter to be my accompanist – Michelle Andres – a piano teacher at the college.

In the fall of 1997, at age 75, Grandma told me she had signed up to take piano lessons again – from Michelle. She hadn’t done lessons since she was a young woman – maybe since she was a kid. She was the oldest student by quite a margin and sometimes felt silly about it, but everyone else thought it was wonderful. Me included and especially Michelle. They formed a very close friendship and played duets together. They had lots of fun playing a Spanish piece wearing Mexican sombreros and their pinnacle piece was a Chopin Concerto – Chopin was her favourite composer. I remember Grandma practicing, practicing, practicing on that concerto. I was so proud of her when the big day came and she finally performed it. They sounded wonderful. She wasn’t just good, she was amazing. I remember bragging to my friends, “My Grandma’s nearly 80 and she’s going to perform a Chopin CONCERTO!” In those music lesson years with Michelle she regained her finger strength and flexibility and became the talented musician she had once been. She loved getting up some of the old pieces she hadn’t played in decades – many of them family favourites from when she was a girl growing up in her musical household with her violinist father whom she called “Pop.” She studied composers in special classes and workshops put on by the college with Marg Daley and others teaching at the conservatory. She attended many, many concerts and rarely missed the final concert showcasing the best of the music festival.

One time on her annual trip to the mountains, we took her to Mozart on the Mountain – where the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra performed under the grandeur of the 3 Sisters near Canmore. She had to hike up many steep hills and was very quiet throughout the afternoon. I worried we tired her out, or worse, she didn’t like the music, but she later told me she was mesmerized and that concert was one of the highlights of her life. It combined her 3 great loves: her family, good classical music, and the mountains.

Back in Lloydminster, she was a donor and supporter of getting the Vic Juba Theatre built. And she was always playing for me the pieces she was working on in her lessons with Michelle. “Listen to this one, Robin. It’s such a pretty little piece.” I admired her and found her so inspiring, that she could rediscover her love of music and have so much fun dusting off her old passion at such an “advanced” age. She taught me: It’s never too late! She was an old dog that learned new tricks and never felt her age. She was like a puppy with a spring in her step during those music lesson years.

I left to go to university in Calgary and continued to play in the Symphonic Band there. Even though I wasn’t a music major, but taking a commerce degree, I auditioned and they let me in. Grandma always encouraged me to keep going in music “don’t let it go, Robin” – she wished she hadn’t put it aside for so many years and didn’t want me to do the same thing. She was able to come to Calgary a few times to hear me play and every time I came home to visit she would say with a twinkle in her eye “Did you bring your sax?” After university I continued playing in community bands in Calgary and continue today to play with a group I love called Westwinds Wind Orchestra. I would call her after every concert I played in or went to and tell her all about it. We always asked each other if we had been practicing.

Once she moved into the Hemstock, we started doing little concerts for the residents there. We’d work on our “repertoire” as she’d call it, and plan the order of the songs. Most were simple favourites, and we both loved slow, lyrical, pretty melodies, but we always included our last, most difficult music festival piece just for kicks – and sometimes the Pink Panther. I always joked that I felt like a rock star at those concerts. People would see us walking down the halls to the show and stare and after, we were swarmed and complimented. No one ever asked us for an autograph though.

Even after Grandma didn’t feel her playing was up to snuff anymore and we stopped performing concerts, we would still practice in her room for our own enjoyment. I called it “jamming with Grandma.” Anytime we played together, whenever I set up my sax and after took it apart, cleaned it, and put it away, she’d play for me. I always used to tear up during these songs, but compose myself before she was done. I knew one day she would be gone and I would miss her and her playing so much. I thought that for years and years and years, and she kept going and kept playing. I started to think that she might live forever.

Grandma asked me many times to play at her funeral. She always said she wanted lots of music at it. She would be so thrilled that her old, but actually young, piano teacher, Michelle Andres is here today to play all of her favourite pieces and Michelle has also graciously agreed to step in for Grandma and accompany me. Jeanine Hatchard is also here today to sing – she was a voice teacher at the Conservatory when Grandma was taking lessons. Jeanine – she always thought you had the most beautiful voice. She would be so happy you are here today. And Michelle – she thought you were the most wonderful piano player – she always told me when she got to hear you play at various concerts and it was always a treat for her. Thank you both for being here today. She would just love that we have reconnected to do this.

So now to introduce our little concert….By my count it’s been 18 years since Michelle and I have played together. We will be playing 2 songs that were my and Grandma’s favourites and appeared on every concert we did at the Hemstock – our signature piece “The Song of India” by Rimsky-Korsakov and “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” Michelle will play a bit while I get set up, then we’ll tune and get started.

Grandma: I HAVE been practicing – a bit, not as much as I should have. I DID bring home my sax. And band starts next week. I will be there.

Here we go….

It is such an absolute pleasure and a real honour for me to eulogize my favorite mother in law and everyone’s favorite grandma. As a young man you “just kind of hope for the best with your mother in law.” Well, I’m here to tell you that I got the “best.” Mary was kind, respectful and loved us all in spite of our shortcomings. She was a wonderful person and a great example to us all. I’ll bet you can’t find anyone she interacted with, in her 94 ½ years, who did not think the world of her – quite an accomplishment.

Mary Bottomley was born in Lloydminster to John “Pop” and Rose Bottomley on March 5, 1922. They came a few years after the Barr Colonists and farmed just south of where the Husky Upgrader is today. She was the youngest of 6 children: Jack, Bill, Kath, Muriel (Bub) and then Mary. A sister Jean died at 16 with appendicitis. They also grew up with an adopted sister Willma who is here today. She was predeceased by her husband Bern, her parents, all her siblings and 2 grandchildren Diana Rae and Justin. She is survived by her 3 daughters, Wyn, Pat and Gena, their husbands, grandkids and great grandkids, and many nieces and nephews.

She grew up in a house of music, her dad “Pop” as she called him, played the violin and the whole family appreciated music. Before she married, Mary became a travelling piano teacher staying a few days in one community then moving on and doing it all over again. She particularly liked classical music and really just considered everything else “NOISE.”

She married Bern Whiting on July 7, 1946 and they took over the Whiting family farm, where our ranch headquarters are today. It was a unique relationship. Mary was very “artsy.” Bern on the other hand very grounded, practical, sensible, did not like a fuss. Mary said he even skipped out on his 80th birthday party by dying a few months too soon.

They thrived, produced 3 beautiful daughters, had a successful farm and enjoyed their friends and community “simple good fun with friends” (something we don’t enjoy enough today.)

She told me a little of their early days on the farm. How Bern left her to supervise the sow farrowing when he went to the field. She said she was terrified “didn’t really have a clue” but didn’t let Bern know! She would worry about Bern operating machinery with his arthritis and would crawl on her belly up the hill behind the house to sneak a peak and make sure he was OK but not let him see her or he would scold her for being so silly.

Bern was a meticulous bookkeeper, we have all his ledgers. There are entries: Dress Mary Coop $27, Mary clothes Sears catalogue $36 and on and on. We teased her she was just a “kept woman.” She said, “I was not” and of course she wasn’t, but she was fun to tease.

The girls were all raised to “work before play” and had to pick a few rows of raspberries down at Chicky Manley’s before they went to the beach. Or peas. There were always peas, even the grandkids remember gorging on Grandma’s peas.

Wyn and Pat teased her about her reward system – if they picked up all the feathers in the yard from the “free range chickens” she would give them a special treat…it would be a few raisins from the bag. They never let her forget it.

Gena remembers that it was gardening and “work first” and that Mary was her “Brownie” leader they called “Tawnie Owl.”

She would take the girls to the Edmonton Symphony to expose those “little farm girls” to some culture. Pat says they went but really only because they could miss school and they might stop for fries and pop on the way.

They took summer holidays as a family “often with the Cheleys” but only after the hay was up. They raised their family in the original Whiting log house with many additions and updates and built their new house in 1974.

As the kids left and Bern’s mobility decreased with his arthritis, Mary became his everything, and I mean everything; part mechanic, construction worker, and gardener all under Bern’s critical and demanding supervision. Bern would be frustrated because she didn’t know her tools or which way to turn those darn nuts. It wasn’t easy but she persevered “She was such a trooper.”

Bern passed in 1996, this year would have been their 70th anniversary.

Mary loved to laugh. SO HERE GOES GRANDMA. I’m just going to call her Grandma cause we all did.

1. She was particularly skilled in waste management.
Once when I was looking around for space to bury a power line I found this incredible bunch of rusty tin cans in the bush behind the old house. I asked Pat what on earth it was (I mean there were truckloads of cans.) Pat said her mom said “Over the fence was out of bounds.” For 25 years Grandma and the girls walked out the back door and winged every soup and bean can into the bush. But she was flexible – she changed with the times – when dumpsters became available she would bag her garbage, then in the old Parisienne she would stalk the back alleys in town to find an open dumpster. Finally she got caught behind the Capri Hotel. She was so embarrassed she ordered a dumpster for the ranch to share. We all gave her such a hard time. Pat even bought her a silly yellow sun hat and embroidered on it “Director of Waste Management.” For years when she took garbage out she would loop in front of our house on her way to the dumpster always wearing her yellow hat. Several days ago the girls found a bag in her closet labelled “To be given to Pat on my demise” and in it was the “darn yellow hat” – Grandma had her revenge.

2. Her cooking skills
For the record, she was a pretty darn good cook and cooked every family get together meal well into her 70’s. Because Bern didn’t travel, she hosted them all.
But there were those stories
Once when our kids were staying over, Lee (just a little guy) wasn’t eating. Grandma asked why – he replied “Grandma, it’s not very tasty.” She just laughed and she loved to tell the story.
Doug used to eat her canned peaches until he burst – and Ken would eat Christmas oranges, orange after orange, until Grandma gave him what he called the “ugly face.”
And then there were those hot cross buns. One Easter she came to show Pat how to make Hot Cross Buns. We invited the whole ranch for coffee and fresh buns at 3 o clock. They came out like “hockey pucks” (I think we used them to fill the potholes in the road.) Mary bailed out for home at 2:45 and left Pat to take the heat.
She was famous for serving the grandkids what they called “Grandma’s Furscream.” You know that old ice cream out of the freezer with icicles and fur all over it. The kids gave her a hard time about it whenever they could.
And there were those famous Pumpkin Pies she always brought to Thanksgiving. She was finally ready to pass on her secret recipe. Robin and Pat waited with anticipation to write it down. AND are you ready, here it is. Buy tenderflake pie shells then follow the directions on the can of pie filling – she thought maybe she added a little orange juice but couldn’t remember for sure; but “don’t forget to scald the milk!” She was our Grandma.

3. Her driving skills
She could pilot her big old Parisienne with great skill, especially when we were never really sure she could see over the dashboard. We told her she looked like a “Q-tip” just a little white head behind the wheel.
Once she was driving Cody home from town, she did a couple of 360’s on Hwy 17. She just drove out of the ditch but swore Cody to secrecy. He was not to tell his parents. Cody told her, “Grandma, I thought I was doing to die.”
Another time she swung into our laneway. I happened to be stopped on the side talking to some serviceman. He shouted “Don’t think she sees us” – We dove behind his truck….she blew by us “mirror to mirror” down the lane and into her garage….never even saw us.
One time that old Parisienne had a rattle that was really bothering her. After 3 trips to RJR Noyes Garage it turned out it was her mail key in the ashtray….Poor Grandma.
When she was in her 80’s the girls convinced her she needed a smaller car. She didn’t think so but bought a little Toyota “the Manx” as she called it. At 84 she sold the old Parisienne for “cash all on her own.” With a little advice from Gena, she asked $1500 instead of the $1000 she thought.
The Toyota would fit in the parkade at the Hemstock…well it almost fit except for that darn pillar that kept jumping out at her. She started getting the body shop to “heal the bruises” before the girls could ask any questions.
She had her own routes around town to avoid the traffic. It may have taken her a little longer bit it kept her safe. She was always delighted when she got her drivers license each year – but at 90 years she turned in her keys, “Her own choice” her good judgment prevailed.
I had to laugh at myself this summer with all the construction in town; I have been using Grandma’s routes. I just have to smile.

4. Relationship Advice
Sort of a Dr. Phil type of thing. She would occasionally give her grandkids relationship advice (mostly the boys.) One Thanksgiving there was a little stray kitten at the ranch….and Kristy fell in love with it and wanted to take it home. She asked poor Doug and of course he said yes. Then Grandma told Doug “I have never seen a man so easily manipulated by a woman.” ------------Might have been a little harsh, Grandma.
Lee remembers her telling him not to marry a “flibbertigibbet” which is an old English term. It means an overly talkative, frivolous, flighty, silly, scatterbrained woman.--------------------- “Not bad advice Grandma.”

5. Grandkids Stories
Kristen and Robin have lots of memories of sleepovers at Grandmas.
--her purple bathroom, fixtures and all with a red heat lamp ----- they used to close the door and hold dance parties in there.
--they shook Comet cleaner on her cushions and jumped on them to make smoke for their haunted house.
--Ken remembers her instructions on how to use only 8” of toilet paper.
---Once when all the grandkids and cousins were there – Jason and Jennifer may remember this – they stashed a ham bun in her old recliner chair downstairs. -----On another occasion 5 years later they recovered it, perfectly petrified. They should have known better, but Grandma took it all in stride.

6. Grandma was very independent and never wanted to be a bother.
When we came home one weekend there were tracks on her lawn…In her 80’s she’d hired the movers and she was gone to the Hemstock – Pat always said she didn’t give her 30 days notice. Then came the “garage sale from hell.” It rained all weekend, didn’t go well and when it was over Gramma swooped up the cash and left for town, leaving everyone to clean up and pick up the pieces. “She was independent.”

She loved living at the Hemstock, and had many friends there (although she referred to the residents as “those old people”!) She appreciated the staff and the care they provided.

At Christmas Gramma gave everyone socks. At Noelia’s first Christmas with us from Peru, everyone was nagging on Grandma for giving such cheap socks. She thought how rude of these people – she soon learned there was $100 in every pair.

But to be serious, Grandma loved a lot in her life.

1. She loved music, it was her passion. Classical mostly and she wasn’t real tolerant of anything else and in this department she did not have a sense of humour. Gerry used to tease her that Elvis made way more money than the classical guys and when she asked me what I thought of the classical violinist we had heard in Vienna I told her for fun, “It was OK I guess but he was no Charlie Daniels.” ----- She didn’t even smile.

2. She loved her friends
She and Bern enjoyed countless hours of fun with the Cheleys and other friends holidaying and playing cards. They fished with her Brother Bill. She had a close relationship with her sister “Bub.” They visited a lot and travelled a little. We used to call them the “Golden Girls” – they loved it but “Bub” always wanted to be “Blanche.”

She had a special 65 year friendship with Gene Till. Gene was so good to Grandma. They went to Tims nearly every day for years. They’d sip their “small tims” and visit. It was so nice to see a friendship so close. Thank you Gene.

3. Grandma loved the mountains
Her love affair with the mountains started on their honeymoon and lasted forever. She went lots on summer holidays and after Bern died in 1996 the girls took her for their annual “Whiting Girls Do Banff” holiday nearly every year until this one. She always thought she was too old and everytime she left she thought she would never see the mountains again.

She loved her family and especially her 3 girls. In fact, the day before she died she was having trouble communicating and the girls said “Mom, just try 2 words” and she said “love you.”

She lived a wonderful full life, she enjoyed every minute of it, and we all enjoyed her, we will miss her more than you can know.

…and in the end it all went as she would have wanted.

God speed Grandma.

Card of Thanks:

We would like to express our sincere thanks to all our friends and relatives for their support and thoughtfulness at this difficult time. Thank you to Dr. Snyman for her compassionate care of mom for many years, a huge thank you to the Staff and Residents at the “Hemstock” who made mom’s time there very enjoyable. Our thanks to Archdeacon Michael Stonhouse for the lovely service. Thank you to the Honorary Pallbearers and Gene and Bill Till for their 65 years of friendship! Thanks to Mac Creech for his great remembrances/humour of mom/grandma!! Also, thank you to Michelle Andres, Jeanine Hatchard and Robin Cathro, who made this day SO special with their gift of music. Mom would have loved it!!! Our thanks to our cousin, Jean Fisher, for being the Urn Bearer. Also, thanks to Doug Baert for the slide show tribute & Grandma’s recording during the lunch. Thanks to the St. Johns ladies for serving the lovely lunch, and to Creech’s Funeral Home for their guidance and support.

To everyone who attended the service, the hugs, the food, flowers, phone calls/e-mails, cards and donations, it was greatly appreciated. We are all so thankful that we live in our wonderful close-knit community and have such great and caring friends and neighbours. Your thoughtfulness will never be forgotten. A donation in lieu of thank you cards will be made to the Kiwanis Lloydminster & District Music Festival.

Wyn, Pat and Gena & Families


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