DEAN – Edith Dean ~ September 18, 1928 – November 4, 2017
On September 18, 1928 Edith Constance Stork was born to Arthur and Agnes Stork in Eastend, SK. She would soon be known as Edie to her friends and family and later Mom, Aunt Edie, Grandma Dean, Grandma Edie and sometimes Eedit when Grandpa was teasing her. (That’s an Archie Bunker reference for those of you too young to remember).
She was born into a generation that would learn quickly about hardship and loss. 1929 would bring the stock market crash followed by drought and the Great Depression and eventually World War II. These events moulded her character and taught her resilience, resourcefulness, independence and a waste-not, want-not approach to life that she instilled in her children.
In spite of the state of the world, by all accounts she was happy growing up on the ranch in the Frenchman River Valley north of Eastend. A self-proclaimed country girl, she loved the outdoors and the freedom to roam the valley, pick wildflowers, ride a horse, learn to garden, climb Rock Hill or swim in the creek with her siblings and cousins. They were and are a close knit group. She grew up without much money in those days but they were rich in every way that mattered. Their family and friends were close by and they celebrated life when appropriate and drew together to help each other when needed. She always maintained that she didn’t need money to be happy.
As a young girl her education started at Battle School up to grade 8 during which time life must have been busy. She enjoyed softball, curling, swimming, volleyball and cross country skiing. She participated in the 4H Beef Club where no doubt she learned cattle handling skills that would serve her well in her adult life. She learned to grow flowers and vegetables, raise chickens which she loved and really missed when she left the farm. Grandma Stork taught her to cook and bake which she was good at and fed many people well over the years. A visitor to the farm once remarked dumbfounded that everything on the table came from the farm from the bread and butter to the meat and vegetables. She was masterful at making a meal out of a few ingredients and never seemed bothered by extra mouths to feed at supper, which often happened. But she really preferred to work outside throughout her life.
Near the end of the war, the family received the sad news that her cousin, Bill Stork, had been killed in service in France. She didn’t like to see stories of war on movies or TV. She felt it was glamorised and that was wrong because it was all too real to the people that lived at that time.
Her education continued with four years of high school correspondence courses at home. She graduated with a high enough average to qualify for teacher’s college in 1947 which she attended in Moose Jaw. She and Mabel Wheeler boarded with Donelda Thompson, her future sister-in-law and it was here she met James Dean. She finished teacher’s college and went teaching for two years, first at MaryFlat School then at Sidewood. On June 11, 1949 she and Grandpa were married. They lived in Moose Jaw that first year of marriage. Their first child Don was born there in 1950.
After her father’s death in 1950 they moved to Maple Creek to live with her mother on the PFRA flat. Here they would continue to build a life and add to their family. Barry was born in 1955, Kelly in 1956, Colleen in 1957 and Yvonne in 1963. In the early years there, Grandpa worked with his brother, Stan, at Riverhurst. Eventually, they were able to lease some land and work closer to home. Life must have been very busy. It wasn’t until 1971 that they bought what would become Windy Waters and they would finally have a place of their own. That same year their first grandchild, Leea, would be born. In 1973, Derek would arrive.
She worked beside Grandpa on the farm feeding cattle, baling hay, fencing and calving all while raising a garden, maintaining a home and raising five kids. She said she never had time for a paid job, although she did take an income tax preparer course in the 70s and worked at that for many years, in town and on the farm. She prepared income tax returns for the family for years. She planted thousands of trees in her lifetime as is evident in some old farm photos that had none in the early years.
In the mid 70s, Grandma and Grandpa hosted Vacation Farm Tours. A bus-load of European tourists travelling across Canada would stop for lunch and a visit. They would marvel at the size of the barn, the house and the fields. They enjoyed meeting new people and sharing a bit about their way of life on the prairie.
One summer day Grandpa was working by the dam and came across a young couple hitch-hiking from Germany. He invited them to supper and they ended up staying for a week or so. They became lifelong friends and Grandma always looked forward to their cards and letters.
When they were almost empty-nesters in the late 70s, they took in a boarder; a young man from Ontario working as an enviromentalist for an oil company in the area. He stayed for several months. He too became part of their extended family and a lifelong friend.
Because of their proximity to the lake they would often be visited by hunters and fishermen and were always willing to accomodate and entertain.
Over the next several years the family would grow exponentially. In 1985, Haley and Lindsey joined our family, ages 4 & 3 respectively, 1987 Jori and Mallory were born, 1988 Zack and Kwin and 1989 Paige and Kyrstin. In 1991 they moved to Maple Creek to the house on Aspen Street for the next chapter of their lives. In 1992 Denver was born and Spencer in 1993. Those were busy years as Grandma babysat often and genuinely enjoyed the company of her grandchildren.
She carried on in her volunteer life. From 1987-1993 she helped in the saving of Jasper School, where she spent time on the board as chairperson, treasurer, and director. She had a keen interest in preserving local history. Grandma was instrumental along with Joyce Drever, in applying for and acquiring the Healing Lodge project for Maple Creek. It was something she felt strongly about and worked on the Planning Circle for 5 years in a volunteer capacity.
In 1997 she would become a great-grandmother with the arrival of Kelsey and Jordan in 1998. In 2004, Kennedy and Madison would join the clan, ages 6 and 3 respectively.
They liked to travel and went far and wide to watch hockey, baseball, reconnect with air force friends, visit family and spend time with friends. Grandma couldn’t understand why people would leave Canada to vacation when there is so much to see here. Some of her fondest memories were of a Sunday drive through the Cypress Hills with Joyce and Dave Drever and Grandpa on a beautiful summer day that inspired her poetry “The Cypress Hills in Poem and Picture”; a trip to Yellowknife with Mabel and Graham Hobbs in 1996 and a trip to Whitehorse with Fred and Jean Langley in 2000.
She became a great-grandmother again in 2014 with the arrival of Georgia and again in 2015 when Madden and Jake were born. The newest member of the family, Jackson, was just born in October of this year.
Until recent years, she was fully active in the community. Edie’s involvement included the Home and School Association, Cub Scouts, Hay Creek Homemakers (which would become the Women’s Institute) where she spent 28 years on the local, district and provincial boards. She enjoyed curling and served as president, bonspiel chairperson and secretary. She spent 30 years involved with hockey in Maple Creek, on the executive at the club and league levels. She was a charter member of the Figure Skating Club for 15 years, on the executive and spent many hours playing music while her daughters skated. The Maple Creek Oldtimers, Eastern Star and Ladies’ Shrine and the Horticulture Club were some of her other interests.
Grandma felt a strong connection to her church here at St. Mary’s. She was on the Altar Guild for 50 plus years and a choir member for 35 years. She taught Sunday school, served on the vestry and worship committee and was a lay reader when called upon.
She was nominated for a “Women of Distinction” award in 1991 and in 1996 she was awarded a volunteer medal for her work in the community. She once wrote that her greatest inspirations in her life were her father and her grandfather, Frank White, both ardent community workers. She said her father once told her that if a community was good enough to live in, it was your duty to volunteer in it.
She loved to write and self-published several books of prose and poetry. She wrote her “Country Candor” column for 24 years for the Maple Creek News and the Leader Post. On several occasions her readers sought her out either by phone or in person to discuss her writing and the topic of the day. She attended several writer’s workshops over the years and enjoyed connecting with other writers.
She enjoyed walks along the lake at Windy Waters, gardening, knitting, writing, sewing, art, photography and, of course, watching her family participate in the world be it education, sports, music, dance, art or drama.
In her own words, she would like best to be remembered as: “Being a good homemaker, mother, grandmother and great grandmother – a lover of the land and the small ranch that Jim and I worked so hard to attain.” We will remember her for this and so much more. We are proud to have called her Grandma.
She is predeceased by her sister, Sheila, parents Arthur and Agnes Stork, husband James Dean, brother Leonard Stork, brother-in-law Austin Drever, brother-in-law Harvey Thompson, brother-in-law Stan Dean and his wife Olive, and infant daughter Beverley.
She leaves to cherish her memory her siblings Sybella Drever, Alf Stork (Evelyn), sister-in-laws Doris Stork and Donelda Thompson, her children Don (Sharlaine), Barry (Connie), Kelly (Martha), Colleen (Dean Smith) and Yvonne (Trent Crow), grandchildren Leea Dean, Derek Dean (Kim), Jori Dean, Paige Dean, Zack Smith (Brittany), Mallory Nakamura (Ryland), Haley Tran (Dave), Lindsay Munro(Ian), Denver Dean, Kwin Dean, Kyrstin Crow, Spencer Crow, great-grandchildren Kelsey Goebel, Jordan Goebel, Georgia Nakamura, Madden Nakamura, Jake Tran, Jackson Munro, Kennedy and Madison Glascock along with numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews, friends and extended family members.
A Memorial service was held on November 9, 2017 at the St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church in Maple Creek, Sask. with Archdeacon Peter Boote officiating. Interment took place at the Maple Creek Cemetery. Donations may be made to the Jasper Cultural & Historical Centre, or the St.Mary’s Anglican Church Memorial Fund. . Funeral arrangements entrusted to Binkley’s Funeral Service. Condolences may be offered to the family at http://www.binkleysfuneralservice.com.