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Gertie Creech

November 8, 2011
Gertie Creech
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Obituary for Gertie Creech

Eulogy for Gertrude Creech My name is Doug Weir and I am Auntie Gertie’s nephew. I like to think of myself as her “summertime foster child” of the past. Auntie Gertie was born in Lloydminster on January 23, 1921. She is predeceased by her mother Abigail in 1930, her father Godfrey in 1983, brother Jim in 1992, sister-in-law Edna in 2002 and sister Kelly in 2005. Gertie grew up on the family farm north of Lloydminster and attended North Gully School until grade 8. Grades 9, 10 and 11 were taken by correspondence. Her grade 12 year was completed in Lloydminster. I also think it was during this time she started dating Uncle Frank. It is important to note that Gertie’s mom passed away when she was only 9 years old. Grandpa Pike raised Uncle Jim and 3 girls by himself with the help of numerous “nanny’s” (to put in today’s terms). There was no household help when Gertie went to Lloydminster for grade 12 and as a result Grade 12 was not all fun and games. Auntie Gertie returned home on weekends to help with household chores and to prepare her food for the upcoming week. In the fall of 1940 Gertie went to Saskatoon Normal School and graduated in the spring of 1941 with her teaching certificate. Her first teaching job was the next fall at Roland View School near Neilburg. She taught there for 2 years for the whopping salary of $700.00/year – some of you may think that comment is a “typo” but no, the salary was $700/yr., not bimonthly or monthly. By the time Gertie was teaching at Roland View, Uncle Frank had enlisted in the air force. It was during her time at Roland View that she received news that Uncle Frank had been shot down. One of her former students phoned Bill a day or two ago and said that he remembers the day Gertie received the news. School was dismissed for the day and he and another boy stayed and batted balls and played catch to help pass the day. Auntie Gertie’s next job was in Hillmond for R1000.00/year – this was apparently the highest salary available for rural schools. In June of her second year of teaching at Hillmond, Uncle Frank returned home from the war. They didn’t waste much time, they were married on July 1st that same year, 1945. Uncle Frank used to tease Dad and Uncle Harry that he had the pick of the Pike litter (I personally think it was one of those litters where there was no poor choice). Pat found a newspaper clipping that gave a full description of the newlyweds travel clothes – it stated “the bride’s costume as a lime green UNIT with brown accessories”. That fall Uncle Frank was accepted into veterinary college at Guelph, Ontario – the same class as the skinny Weir kid that would eventually become his brother-in-law. Frank started vet school and Gertie started Business College. Unfortunately, “post-war everywhere” was desperately short of teachers; Auntie Gertie gave up the business school and started teaching near Guelph. After graduation from vet college, in the spring of 1949, Frank and Gertie loaded up all their belongings in a new truck and headed back to Lloydminster, with plans to stay in Grandma Creech’s house on the farm. Gertie was pregnant and due in August. The summer was spent fixing up the house, having a baby, farming and starting up a verterinary practice. That same fall Mr. Gallinger offered Frank a job near Edmonton managing his herd of Shorthorn cattle and doing the veterinary work – so off to Edmonton went Frank, Gertie and Barney in November of 1949. They spent 2 years at the Gallinger farm, during which time Mac was born in May 1951. In August of 1951 the 4 of them were back in Lloydminster to buy a house and get restarted on that vet practice. Not too long after this that skinny Weir kid (now brother-in-law) entered the scene again to join in the vet practice. Auntie Gertie and Uncle Frank moved from town to farm a couple of times during the next few years during which time Bill was born in August of 1954 and Pat was born in November of 1955. Dad and Frank practiced together until Uncle Frank took a full time job with the government in 1957 (and from the stories I have heard, I DO MEAN THEY PRACTISED). There are lots of stories of Uncle Frank and Dad’s times together. One of my favourites is the story of them being out most of the night calving cows (Dad likes to remind me that those were the days before rubber sleeves, so when it was cold he and Uncle Frank each bared one arm and went to work calving the cow). They were driving home from South of town when Dad stopped and woke Uncle Frank and told him he was just too tired to drive any further. Frank said “no problem”, so they switched places and Dad went instantly to sleep. Dad woke up a couple of hours later to find Uncle Frank asleep and the car was still parked in the same place. They finally got home in the wee hours of the morning for a bit of shut eye. Dad awoke to Auntie Gertie’s loud voice coming out of the bedroom saying “Frank Creech is that blood all over your arm”, and his response was “oh honey, don’t worry, it’s all dry”. Well I’m sure that Auntie Gertie was busy enough raising 4 kids on the farm but never the less, after a 16 year break, Gertie resumed her teaching career at Greenwood School in 1965. She taught there for 2 years until the country school closed. I remember Auntie Gertie used to let me come out and take part in the track and field days – just to let me get whipped – by those darn farm kids. I was going to say that going back teaching after that many years was Gertie’s first amazing display of courage, but truthfully that display of courage may have been back on July 1st, 1945 when she married Uncle Frank. I can only imagine how hard Auntie Gertie must have worked; living on the farm without any luxuries, Uncle Frank travelling the country with work and raising cattle, raising 4 kids, and teaching on top of it. I’m sure the last thing she needed was the next generation skinny Weir kid hanging around. I was so fortunate to have pretty much an open invitation to the Creech farm. All I can say is WOW, WHAT A PLACE TO LET A KID BE A KID. Barney and Mac were older so they might have had to do work a wee bit (although rumour has it that Patty did most of the chores). Anyway as a kid I only remember a lot of fun at the Creech farm. Bill and I tried a career in aerospace. Back when the “bat kites” were the new thing we thought we should see how high we could get a mouse up in the air, tied to the kite. We followed all the safety protocols for the passenger by putting the mouse in a wooden match box stuffed with cotton in case there was excessive turbulence during re-entry. We had hundreds of yards of kite string – take off was uneventful but unfortunately the passenger didn’t survive the flight. After careful examination of all of the flight data, we figured it must have been the lack of oxygen that killed the mouse. Now you ask how does this relate to Auntie Gertie – well we used her bread box to store the mouse for pre-flight conditioning. The boys were telling of how Auntie Gertie tried numerous times to have a nice garden on the farm, but it was always difficult to keep up with the weeding. Most years it seems that Frank came to the rescue by wiping out the whole garden with one swipe of the discer. The boys remark “she was a very patient woman”. Mac tells of the hired help standing guard on the garden if they saw Duffy hook up the discer. The Creech farm was a great place to fine tune your driving skills. I remember being in a field north of the house and I’m pretty sure it was Barney who wanted me to take the car to the other end of the field to meet him with the tractor. Barney hopped on the front seat of Gertie’s Volkswagen with me, put it in first gear and let out the clutch. I was too small to get my feet on the clutch and the brake at the same time so Barney told me to stomp on the brake – the VW choked and shuddered to a halt. After 20 feet the driving lesson complete! Barney put it in first again and told me to stomp on the brake again when I got near the fence at the end of the field. I stopped before the fence, proud as punch. My guess is that this was before I was 6, because I do remember at the age of 6 driving Auntie Gertie’s Volkswagen into the spruce tree, by the house, and wrecking the headlight. All Uncle Frank said was “Doug Weir, if you are going to drive like that you had better wear a seatbelt!” I am so very thankful to have spent a good portion of my childhood on the Creech and Pike farms. Experiencing : driving, chasing cows, hunting, raising rabbits, rafting and a hundred other great things for a city kid. The Byrt kids and I remember the times on the farm as “the best”. The other great thing about the Creech farm was Auntie Gertie’s rice pudding! I do remember one Christmas day at Auntie Gertie’s when the whole bowl of rice pudding went on the floor just as it was about to be served – I had to go for counselling for years after the loss. Auntie Gertie was a great cook even though her mother passed away at the age of 9. Sherry claims that Grandma’s stew was the “company standard” and try as she may it never tasted as good as Gertie’s even when she used exactly the same ingredients. You have to give Grandpa Pike a lot of credit, he raised 4 amazing children. All of them with an insatiable desire for reading and learning about the world around us. Auntie Gertie loved to read and watch the news. In recent years her failing eyesight made this a struggle but it certainly didn’t stop her from staying current and having a few heated discussions about politics. Auntie Gertie played bridge for years with the regular crew of my mom, Jean Till and Evelyn Perkins. Frank and Pat had to fill in on occasion. Gertie always looked forward to bridge night. I don’t know what else went on but I know mom got home pretty late some nights! Barney and Mac joke about how Frank thought tea would cure everything from broken bones to .. I don’t know, maybe hemorrhoids. Anyway the bottom line is there was a lot of tea drank around the Creech table with friends from near and far. As an English teacher Gertie was always correcting her kids when they used poor grammar (kind of made me a bit nervous writing this eulogy), she proof read a lot of sale catalogues over the years making sure all was just right. The boys said the only thing mom disliked more than poor grammar was blue jeans at a dress up function – and apparently she wasn’t at all bashful about making her point known to her boys. Gertie was fortunate to have most of her grandchildren grow up near her and for that both she and Frank were truly grateful. She attended as many of her grandchildren’s activities and functions as she possibly could. Pat and Niall and kids moved to South Africa in 1991 and her South African grandkids, travelled back to Canada, with Pat, numerous times to see Grandma and Grandpa. Pat and Gertie had a special mother-daughter relationship which grew though the years and Auntie Gertie looked so forward to Pat’s annual summer visits. Gertie was also very proud of her great grandchildren, eager to show off pictures whenever she could. However, great grandchildren weren’t the only recent addition to Gertie’s family. Gertie was so thankful and so lucky to have Evelyn as part of her family this past 4 years. Evelyn has been a caring, compassionate, wonderful friend to Auntie Gertie and we are all very grateful for what Evelyn brought to Auntie Gertie’s life. A friend of mine, just a couple of weeks ago, saw Gertie and Evelyn shopping in the grocery store – her comment was that it sounded like two good friends planning the week ahead. Although ... I have found out that Evelyn was a bit sneaky at times. Apparently Auntie Gertie loved to use lots of salt despite the doctor’s orders. Well Evelyn thought she would take matters into her own hands. As you know Gertie’s eyesight was poor – well Evelyn used scotch tape to cover up half of the holes on the salt shaker – Auntie Gertie couldn’t see well enough and just assumed she was getting her usual dose of salt – I guess that’s what friends do for friends. It was 30 years ago, in July, that Auntie Gertie had her accident on the same day as my son’s baby shower – I don’t plan on dwelling on her accident because she certainly didn’t. Yogi Berra said when you come to a fork in the road “take it” – and that is certainly what she did. I will tell you one story of Gertie while she was recovering from the spinal injury. While at the Glenrose Hospital doing rehabilitation some visitors entered her room – Frank ripped the sheets off of Gertie and said, “show them, wiggle your toe”. Auntie Gertie raised her voice and said “Frank Creech, I’m not one of your prize Herefords on display!” Jokingly Frank’s response was “no you aren’t honey, but you are a close second”. Gertie had lots of wheelchair and scooter adventures on the farm. One time, Gertie, in her wheelchair, was skidded in a calf sled to Bill and Sherry’s for Christmas dinner. She and Auntie Bobbie tipped the scooter out in the yard one summer day, no one was hurt, and it was a nice day – so the two of them just sat on the road and visited until Brad happened along to help them out. A wheelchair or canes didn’t stop Gertie from doing her part. One time Sherry and Bill got the communication wires crossed and left Rebecca sleeping by herself, in the house, when she was 3. Sherry arrived home at the end of the day and Gertie called asking if she should send Rebecca home. Sherry was choked at first because she thought Bill had dropped Rebecca off at Grandma’s. But that wasn’t the case; Rebecca woke up, went to Gertie’s and had a nice day with Grandma. Grandma was great to have living in the yard – a place to invite yourself for supper and a place for kids to go after school. Grandma Gertie had an important role to play. Auntie Gertie loved company and was always grateful for those that stopped for a visit and a cup of tea. She helped me polish my mooching skills, as I used to phone her on short notice when I was passing by and stop for a bowl of soup and a sandwich. As you can see many of the stories involve Uncle Frank but I guess that is how it should be in a 50 year+ partnership. However, there is no doubt that Auntie Gertie was the true anchor of the family. She was a wonderful caring mother and grandmother, and a pillar of support in difficult times. STRONG, INTELLIGENT, GENTLE, WISE, INSPIRING: YOU WILL BE MISSED BY ALL!


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