Mary “Rosella” (Rogers) Stoney died peacefully on Oct. 21, 2010 at the home of her daughter, 15 months after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer. She was 82.
Rosella was born on Dec. 26, 1927 at home on the farm in Demaine, SK, the second daughter of Myrtle Rusnell and Raymond Rogers. She had many stories to share of life on a prairie farm, going to Vendale school 3 miles away with sisters Lorna, Birdie, Dorothy and driving the buggy or sleigh pulled by school pony, Dorie.
When she was 12, the family moved to Surrey, BC. She got scarlet fever that fall and, because of the very high fever, her hair fell out in clumps. However, it grew back in, thicker and more luxuriant than before. She graduated from Q E High School and was voted, ‘The Girl with the Most Beautiful Hair’! She then went to work in the Veteran’s Land Acts office in New Westminster excelling in Pitman shorthand and mastering an L. C. Smith typewriter!
In 1950, she married Vernon Stoney and the next years were busy raising their nine children and learning how to cook the wild game Vern brought home from his many hunting trips. She and Vern loved to dance, taking time out to attend local dances with family and friends.
On Dec. 26, 1964, with all the kids packed in the camper of the truck, the family wound its way through the winter bound Fraser Canyon highway, moving to a farm in Silver Creek. The move was an ambitious one as she faced a 4 room log cabin with wood heat and no running water or telephone. But she toiled tirelessly beside Vern, determined to make a home for her family. Money was scarce so she made many things by hand. She drew on her creativity to sew clothes and continually repair the family’s farming garments, to fashion fitted covers for chesterfield and chairs, to concoct a wall paper paste that worked on uneven walls and ceilings, to make curtains for the cabin windows. She heated water on the wood stove to wash the clothes in her wringer washer, hanging them outside in summer and from lines run on the ceilings in the kitchen and living room in winter.
She dove into the role of farm wife; gardening, putting up the harvest by canning, freezing, drying, or root cellar storage. She canned hundreds of quarts of vegetables and fruit on the old wood stove in the heat of summer. She helped butcher, clean, prepare and freeze the meat they raised. She churned cream into butter, made cottage cheese from excess milk, baked 21 loaves of bread every five days and fashioned huge family meals for her growing teenagers. She also kept the books for their Valley Comfort wood stove and Jeri mower businesses, making many trips with her husband to the Vernon train depot to pick up equipment and parts coming from Ontario. She balanced all of this with her beloved librarian duties at the Silver Creek Branch where she retired in 1991. Although farm duties down-sized and changed over the years, she never retired from farm life until her illness required her to move to town in May of 2010.
Mom adored her kids, thoroughly enjoying them even through their teenage years and, in later years, traveled to visit them or join them on a variety of adventures! Her dearest passion was her grandchildren, always remembering birthdays….all 26 of them! She delighted in playing and telling them stories when they visited, babysitting whenever she was needed and could be fiercely protective when the need arose. In her last days, she was comforted to hear them all about the house.
No matter how hard she worked on the farm, she always took time to look nice. She loved her hats! Many a person remarked upon her elegance and grace; both in the way she dressed and the person she was. A deeply and quietly spiritual woman, she loved attending her church whenever she could. She was a great letter writer: to her parents and siblings after she moved to the Shuswap, to her children as they left home, to cousins and friends, some whose friendship goes back to teenage years. She was still writing letters in August.
She had a mind like an encyclopedia and could remember everything about a certain day or incident, even the weather! She was continually interested in everything her kids and grandkids were up to. She loved music and often hummed as she worked in the kitchen. Her husband used to say, “She knows the words to every song you can think of!” With Vern’s deteriorating eyesight, she became his eyes for whatever he was determined to do whether it was tilling and planting the garden, butchering the chickens or fixing machinery.
She was remarkable: a warm, down-to-earth woman, kind, thoughtful, even tempered, beautiful and full of grace. She had incredible will and strength which gave her the ability to love, cherish, care for, endure, forgive, be patient and many other wonderful things that she did on a daily basis. She taught us so much, just by who she was and how she lived her life. She faced her final illness the way she lived her life; with cool headed courage and uncomplaining fortitude. She was a woman who finished what she started, right to the very last hours. We will miss her steadfastness, her caring spirit and her friendship. Mom, we carry you in our hearts.
Rosella was predeceased by her husband, Vernon, of 60 years on Oct. 20, 2010 and by her son, Mark, in 2005.
Rosella will be lovingly remembered by her daughters; Gail of Salmon Arm, Lynn (Keith) Andersen of Prince George, Carol (Forrest) Holden of Bellingham WA, Helen (Glen) Oud of Lacombe AB and her sons; Rob (Merry Ann) of Dewinton AB, Lance (Penny) of Salmon Arm, Gary (Cheryl) of Okotoks AB and Tim of Salmon Arm. She will also be remembered by her sisters; Lorna, Birdie, Dorothy, Ruby and brother, Dennis, her 26 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren, many extended family members on both sides and a host of friends and neighbours.
The Stoney and Rogers families would like to thank Lorraine Prosser for her untiring aide and support in Mom being able to die at home. Lorraine, we appreciate you so much. Thank you also to Dr. Warren Bell, Johanna and Janey for their dedicated care of Mom and Dad throughout their life here. Thank you to the awesome Community Care ladies, to Judy Evans and Hospice volunteers, to Rev. Juanita Austin of First United Church, Dr. Hardy of Vernon, Dr. Main, nurse Cheryl Bawtree, Ambulance attendants and the Red Cross.
A Celebration of Life Service for Rosella and Vernon is planned for the long weekend in May, 2011 at First United Church. Particulars will be posted in this newspaper in April, 2011.
Arrangements entrusted to FISCHER’S FUNERAL SERVICES, Salmon Arm, (250) 833-1129, Email condolences and share memories at www.fischersfuneralservices.com.