Edmonton has lost one of its finest citizens. Daisy Wilson passed away on August 29, 2011. She was the last remaining member of her family of origin.
Born in Calgary in 1912, she was the youngest of five children. Northern Italians who lived in southern France, her parents, Angela and Victor, two sisters and two brothers, emigrated to Canada in 1911 and were some of the first Italians to settle in Calgary.
She met Manchester England-born Jack Wilson in a 1934 Calgary production of The Passion Play. Daisy played the Consoling Angel to Jack’s Christus. From this auspicious beginning they married in 1937 and moved to Edmonton. Jack, a long-time, respected member of Edmonton’s theatre community, was one of Walterdale Theatre’s originals. Daisy organized the box office at Walterdale for years. Jack’s sudden death in 1986, though a shock, would not shorten Daisy’s own life.
Also in 1937, Daisy began her 70 year membership in the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) which opened the doors to a generous life of volunteerism (“When I believe in something, I work on it; when I feel I can make a contribution, I do.”). This credo led to leadership roles in the CWL, and service as one of the first two women on the Board of Trustees of Edmonton’s Catholic Cathedral, St. Joseph’s Basilica. Daisy was, as well, the first woman on the board of Catholic Charities.
She also served on the boards of the Western Catholic Reporter, the Edmonton Social Planning Council, and was an honorary member of the Victorian Order of Nurses where she was the Chairperson in the founding days of Edmonton’s Meals on Wheels program for seniors. Daisy was a founding member of the Edmonton Women’s Shelter, and subsequently helped found WIN (Women in Need) House for battered women with children.
Daisy was also awarded an Alberta Achievement Award for her tireless community service, the Jack Wilson Award for her service to Walterdale Theatre, the Elsie Yanik Provincial Award for outstanding leadership and ministry, and was nominated for the YWCA Women of Distinction Award.
This public list of service and achievement would not likely be welcomed by Daisy. She stated often that such litanies were not necessary “because I received much more than I gave.”
She was a mother of four children, Terrence Wilson of Kelowna, Josephine (Pat) Lenon of Lethbridge, Judith (Peter) Shandro of West Vancouver, and Anthony (Sage Atkinson-Walker) Wilson of Toronto. She was a grandmother to nine, Dustin, Crosby (deceased), Suzanne, Shelagh, Natasha, Matthew, Andrew, Layah, and Sasha; and a great-grandmother of nine children as well.
Daisy’s life of homemaking, church, and community service exuded heart-fullness, a steadfast will, active concern for the less fortunate, and embodied the spirit of good friend and neighbor.
Daisy had lived at Rosedale Manor since 2000, a senior’s residence on 111 Street in Edmonton. She loved her sunlight-filled apartment and was very grateful for the kind and devoted care she received from the Rosedale staff.
Last, but not least, Daisy Wilson’s fresh vegetable soup and welcoming table will be missed by many, as will be her brown, playful eyes; her gardens; her quick wit; and her eclectic tastes including varied friendships, Oiler hockey, live theatre, wildflowers and her beloved Rocky Mountains.
Faithful soul, your life has been, and will continue to be, an inspiration. On behalf of all whom you have touched, “Daisy, farewell. We carry your love in our hearts, and the ripples of that love spread far and wide. We are immeasurably grateful to have known you.”
A Prayer Service will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 31, at Connelly-McKinley Funeral Home, 10011-114 St., Edmonton.
A Mass of Christian Burial will take place at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 1, at St.Joseph’s Basilica, 10044-113 St., Edmonton with cremation to follow.
For those who wish to do so, donations in Daisy’s memory may be made to L’Arche Lethbridge, 240 12C Street North, Lethbridge, AB, T1H 2M7.