Violet Florence Turner, nee Chesney, died Friday, March 25, 2016, from surgical complications. Mom joins her beloved Alec who died in June of 2014. We miss them.
Violet, known as Tootsie to her siblings, and Vie to her many friends, was born in 1926 on land the family was farming near Waldron, Saskatchewan. She was one of the many children of Hermina and Ben Chesney.
Mom’s stories of life on the farm were full of laughter, sorrow, and grief: geese that couldn’t walk after browsing the poppy patch, icicles on the horse’s nose determining if there was to be school that day, a barn burning, the loss of animals, her brother stealing the raisins from her pudding, her mother dusting the stair with a goose wing, her mother making Rétes. We were enthralled.
After World War II Mom came to BC with some sisters on a fruit picking adventure near Mission. That summer she met Able Seaman Alec Turner; they married December 1948, and relocated to Alec’s home town of Rossland, BC. After Dad secured a position with the federal government Mom made a new home for the growing family in Waneta, BC. The couple had three daughters: Danita, Dawn and Diane. In 1955 the family moved again to Nelway, BC where Dad continued his work with Customs. From 1966 to 2007 Vie and Alec made Salmo, BC home. For the past 9 years Mom and Dad lived in Ashcroft, BC.
Mom’s early experiences of necessary cooperation in farming communities, and the ecological and economic disaster of the “Dirty Thirties” informed her humanitarian values. She was profoundly influenced by the family discussions of the 1932 Regina Convention that delivered the “Regina Manifesto” and saw the formation of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation – CCF party, forerunner to the New Democratic Party. Mom was a lifetime supporter of the values expressed by the NDP. She contributed thousands of hours to the party as educator, canvasser, election day driver, and scrutineer. She was an elder Delegate to the 2011 National Convention that also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the party.
This is humanitarian stance fueled Mom’s acute sense of community responsibility; she was a committed active contributor to the betterment of the community. She helped build the local Legion Hall – Branch 217, and contributed to the attainment and administration of the Legion sponsored seniors’ housing facility in Salmo. Mom was a tireless worker for the Women’s Auxiliary of the Royal Canadian Legion, assuming executive positions as Zone Commander, President, Secretary, and Treasurer. In addition to her administrative positions, Mom was an active member of the Auxiliary’s catering team, and made countless sandwiches for bingo night, prepared, served and cleaned up for hundreds of wedding reception and other banquet guests. Mom was granted “Lifetime Member” status after 45 years of continuous service to the organization.
Mom also contributed innumerable volunteer hours to the Salmo Community Golf Course, and Brushy Mountain Ski Hill. She regularly volunteered as a canvasser for various associations including: the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the BC Cancer Society, and the Mothers’ March of Dimes.
Mom worked both out of the home and in. As a young adult she was employed as an egg candler, grocery cashier, and sales representative. Later, she was a regional sales representative for World Book Encyclopedia, and earned numerous sales awards. In the late 1960s Mom completed her long desired training as a cosmetologist, and worked from her home well into her 70s. Mom was a homemaker; she baked, cooked, kept a garden, and put up numerous preserves. She was also an experienced crafter, sewing outfits and home furnishings, knitting Aran sweaters and Buffalo Wool coats. As a senior, Mom studied and produced several exacting pieces of Hawaiian quilting, as well as a feathered hat band in the Hawaiian tradition. Most recently Mom took up acrylic painting, and enjoyed success.
Mom was an athlete, and liked to play. Early in their relationship Dad introduced her to golf and downhill skiing. The two of them could be found at the course, or on the hill, as the season dictated. One summer Mom made professional status when her tournament winnings exceeded amateur level. Mom loved being outdoors. She reveled in picking huckleberries, hunting mush-rooms, accompanying Dad grouse hunting, and hiking. Mom hiked “The Bear’s Hump Trail” in Waterton, Alberta, “Old Glory” above Rossland, Kokanee Glacier, and the Burgess Shale Deposit above Field, BC. She also practiced Tai Chi for over 10 years.
Mom had a lovely voice and loved to sing. We know the words to many of the old time country west tunes like “Gold Mine in the Sky”, “That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine”, “Mockingbird Hill” and “The Big Corral”. On the rare occasion we could induce her to yodel, we were thrilled. And dance. Mom loved to dance: Two Step, Old Time Waltz, Foxtrot, Polka, Butterfly and Schottische. Mom and Dad were wonderful to watch on the dance ? floor, and took ballroom dance classes for two years while in Hawaii. Mom also took Ancient Hula classes when she and Dad wintered there.
Mom said “YES!” to life. She was always up for fun and adventure. She dressed up each Halloween to greet the “wee folk”, attended innumerable costumed affairs at the Salmo Volunteer Fire Department, spent 10 winters in Hawaii with Dad, practiced Transcendental Meditation at one time, and at 80 brought home two Shih Tzu puppies to keep Dad company.
Mom’s special loves included: her Alec, the grandchildren and great-grandchild, red roses, Canada geese, newborn calves, the smell of new mown hay, the song of meadow larks, Canada, the Maple Leaf, Saskatchewan, and her Shih Tzu pups Hana and Precious.
We, who continue on, miss and mourn her leaving: her remaining siblings, Evelyn Chesney of Regina, and younger brother, Earl Chesney, of the Vernon area; her daughters and sons-in-law Danita and Greg Howard of Ashcroft , BC, Dawn Chesney-Turner and Grant Stilwell of Surrey, BC, Diane and Eric Cohen of Pahoa, Hawaii; her grandchildren Darcy and spouse Yona McLean of Kamloops, Lauren Howard and Matthew Howard of Vancouver BC, and one great-grandchild Makana McLean of Kamloops BC.