GILCHRIST – Helen Beatrice Gilchrist (Dowkes), 79, of Maple Creek, Sask. died peacefully, at sunset, on June 22, 2016 in the care of St. Joseph’s Hospice, Medicine Hat.
Born October 29, 1936 in Maple Creek to Jim and Jean Dowkes, Helen was raised on the family farm east of town. She lived almost all her life in and around this community she loved so dearly.
Helen’s personality was vibrant! Her energy, enthusiasm and overall positive attitude were life-long defining characteristics. Nurturing family and friends (both new and old) with unwavering love and support was always a major focus.
In 1955 Helen and Bill were married and began a long, loving and rewarding partnership. As the operators of Cypress Cattle Company, and other ventures, they were a team that was hard to beat. Helen relished the many roles she played in ranch and business life, excelling wherever she committed her time and energy.
Helen was very creative. She loved beauty and making things beautiful. She was a prolific painter and photographer and dabbled in many mediums from willow to clay to fabric. She loved music and was an accomplished musician. As a teenager in the ’50s, she was the piano player with her Uncle George’s dance band the “Hot Rods” and over the years, she continued to play with that same gusto for the Maple Creek United Church, Cypress Lodge or whenever she came across an organ or piano.
Always involved in her community, Helen was active in 4-H, Red Cross, Job’s Daughters, United Church, Jasper Historical and Cultural Centre, Miss Rodeo Canada Pageant and the Cowboy Poetry Gathering. She was a founding member of the 21 Club and the local Living with Cancer Support Group.
In 2002, Helen was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Commemorative Medal for her life-long active support of and involvement with her local community. In 2012, she was named Cowgirl of the Year by the Saskatchewan Cowgirl Cattle Company. In retirement, Helen enjoyed time with her friends at the Art Club, the Red Hat Society, seniors’ exercise class and her neighbourhood coffee group.
Helen was an incredibly warm, caring and compassionate person who embraced life with enthusiasm, but also with grace and humility. She treated all those she met with respect and dignity and was an inspiration to many, opening her heart and home to family, friends and newcomers alike.
Helen will be greatly missed and lovingly remembered by her children Penny (Tony) Marshall, Joe (Brenda) Gilchrist, and Pamela Gilchrist; grandchildren Megan (Dan) and Kerry Marshall, Jody (Shane), Tyler (Kristy) and Adam Gilchrist, Alyssa Slettede; brother Carson (Jewel) Dowkes, sister Bonnie (Ken) Eleason, cherished brother-in-law Sid Hanson; as well as special nieces, nephews, cousins, good friends and neighbours. Helen was predeceased by her parents, her sister-in-law Mary Hanson and by her dear husband of 59 years, Bill Gilchrist.
A funeral and celebration of Helen’s life will be held on Monday, July 4 at 1:00 p.m., Maple Creek United Church, Maple Creek, Sask. with Eleanor Bowie officiating. A reception will follow at the Maple Creek Legion. The immediate family will hold a private observance at the ranch in the fall.
In lieu of flowers, donations to your local food bank are appreciated. If so desired, memorial donations can be made to the Jasper Historical and Cultural Society, Maple Creek, Sask.. Binkley’s Funeral Service Maple Creek and Leader in charge of arrangements, 306-662-2292, http://www.binkleysfuneralservice.com.