On March 25th Verna Tate (nee Brampton) passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family and caregivers after a long and heroic battle.
Verna was born in Dryden, Ontario, the third of four children of Albert and Jennie Brampton. As she wrote in her autobiography her childhood was a home filled with love and laughter in spite of being raised during the depression and living in a house without running water. Both of her older brothers enlisted at the outbreak of WW2 with the oldest, Gordon, joining the Navy, and the younger, Mervin, joining the Lake Superior Regiment (using Gordon’s birthdate to sign up underage). Her youngest brother Brian tragically died young of pneumonia at two years of age and her beloved mother died from complications in giving birth to Brian.
Sadly Mervin was killed in action while helping to liberate the fortress town of Coevorden in the Netherlands on April 5, 1945, though Gordon survived and lived until 1998. Her father endured the pain of losing two sons and a wife and after retiring from the pulp mill in Dryden lived with Verna in later years delighting her own children with his laughter and wisdom, passing away in 1982.
Verna was raised during tough economic times but her memories were bursting with the joy of living with friends and family who were all in the same boat. The family was very musical and Verna loved to sing and dance, continuing even to the end to sing at the top of her voice to Peggy Lee, Patsy Cline and Roger Whitaker. She remembered the fishing and camping outings in the surrounding majesty of the lakes and forests of her native northwestern Ontario with delight and palpable relish. As her father once said it was the best of times since everyone was broke but everyone helped each other, a sense of community he considered was lost in the plenty of the postwar years.
Verna left school early to work to help the family and moved to Winnipeg where she was a telephone operator for the Singer Sewing Machine Company, where she encountered a group of lifelong friends (Muriel Bates, Ruth Robles, Helen Green, Claire Hutchinson, Beverly Robinson and Lorraine Lindsay) whose riotous laughter echoed in the halls of the family home during bridge nights and other social events. She leaves behind Muriel Bates and Ruth Robles to carry the flame onward.
In Winnipeg she met and fell in love with her husband of 64 years, Ross Tate, in 1951 and marrying the following year on September 26, 1952. Geoffrey was born in 1954, followed by Sheldon in 1955, Scott in 1961 and Jennifer in 1965.
The Tate family moved to Edmonton in 1960 when Ross was transferred by his then employer, the CNR, as Manager of Land Surveys for Alberta and Saskatchewan. Verna and Ross bought the family home in Lendrum in 1961 installing a stove which continues to this day to cook the family meals. She was surrounded by neighbors who became fast friends and it was a hallmark of her personality and great kindness that children of all ages would continue to visit her in her home and partake of an overflowing jellybean jar. Neighbors Scott and Lisa Donald and family and Tannis Kubiski and family survive her and proudly continue the Lendrum tradition of family and community.
Her children will fondly remember the mother who would gladly spend her paycheque on comic books and board games on them and who happily permitted her home to be invaded by their many friends. The Tate home was a hive of activity watched over by the caring and loving eye of a devoted mother and wife. Her energy and enthusiasm for life inspired all of her children to live life to the fullest. She encouraged her children to strive for their goals and dreams but to always remember the importance of family. Although the family was spread out around the world her favourite times were when the family could come together and share stores, games and laughter.
Verna was exceptionally fond of her children and grandchildren. She lived long enough to witness a growing number of great-grandchildren, the most recent of which was born on her 90th birthday.
She is survived by her husband, Ross, children Geoffrey (Colleen Thygesen), Sheldon, Scott and Jennifer (Mark Betts), 8 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.
In her final years Verna faced a series of health challenges which she met with fortitude and determination, persisting in the belief she might get better if she only tried harder. She was fortunate to have a number of care aides assist her, several of which became “her angels” with whom she doubled and redoubled her efforts. The Tate family wishes to thank the tireless and cheerful way in which Maria Flerida Mangahis, Shizuka “Suzie” Klasen and Kim Ganne, as well as many others, aided and nursed her until her passing.
The Tate family also wish to acknowledge the support and care from the Home Care and Palliative Care teams as well as all the staff at NurseNextDoor that ensured her comfort and care was delivered in her home.
Verna wished to be cremated and did not want those who survive her to trouble themselves with any kind of ceremony. So in life, so in death, a woman of humility and common sense. Nevertheless a celebration of life is planned by her husband for later in the spring, the date to be determined after a suitable interval to grieve our inestimable loss.