It is with sorrow and celebration that we announce the passing of our mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt and friend Alberta Rafferty. Just 2 months shy of 97 years of age, she lived a life full of adventure to be celebrated.
At 96 she was pre-deceased by many friends and family. Immediate family being: father Horace Singer, mother Dorothy Singer, sister Rosalie Murton, and great granddaughter peanut. Alberta is survived by 4 children, 6 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. Son Kent Rafferty of Calgary and granddaughter Burgandy Robar. Daughter Robin (Bobbi) Blair of Ladner (Bob), grandson Brad (Claudine) and great grandson Bradley, grandson Ryan (Angie), great granddaughter Siella and great grandson Hudson. Daughter Kathy Rafferty of Chilliwack (Marcel Vandenberg) and granddaughter Madison Rafferty (Matt Kotze).
Daughter Kelly Dixon of Kelowna (Blake) granddaughter Shanna Martin (Dustin), great granddaughter Preston and great grandson Cruz, granddaughter Taryn Kootnikoff (Matt), great grandson Riley and great grandson Austin. Along with many more relatives and loving friends.
“Stop me if I have told you this before” Born Lovinia Singer in Lethbridge, Alberta on October 26, 1923. Referred to as Alberta all her life, it wasn’t until she was 45 years old that she received a copy of her birth certificate and discovered that Alberta was not her legal name! Too late, Alberta she was to everyone who knew her.
Her mother and father were emigrants from England. Alberta’s mother was a very gentle person and worked only in the home (for those times working outside of the home was a disgrace).
Her father was a full-time accountant and part time reservist. One week before Canada joined forces with England in WW2, he was called up. His job was to prepare the logistics and convert the empty RCMP barracks into military barracks for the 20th A/Tank Battery to move into.
The military was such a great part of Alberta’s life growing up, she would laughingly say that she was raised on army discipline, fed army rations and was always CB’d (confined to barracks). The house she lived in during her teen years in Lethbridge is still standing (over 100 years old) and looks exactly the same as when she lived there.
Alberta was an avid reader and loved to ice skate, but she no longer skated after she enlisted in the CWAC (Canadian Woman’s Army Corps) in 1942. Alberta was employed as an Administration Clerk in Red Deer and Calgary and discharged in September 1946. Great thanks to Veteran’s affairs for their recognition of her service with medical aid through the past 10+ years.
In December of 1946 Alberta married Joseph (Joe) Rafferty, also a service man and WW2 POW. They lived in Calgary, Edmonton, Chilliwack (twice), Vancouver (twice) and Germany.
Alberta always had an interest in selling. She would tell a story about when she was 4 or 5 years old her family doctor had thrown some wax flowers in the trash can. Alberta spotted them, dusted them off, went around to the front door and sold them back to the doctor’s wife. “This is the job for me” she thought and the opportunity to sell and speak to people eventually led her in the direction of advertising.
When Alberta arrived in Chilliwack for the first time, her first impression was of sunshine and the cherry blossom trees in bloom on the boulevard of the Base. She fell in love with Chilliwack and has never changed her mind.
Vedder Crossing was a farming community then, complete with a post office and general store. True to form, Alberta’s entrepreneurial interest was sparked, and she walked up and down the country roads of Vedder Crossing selling Regal products.
Her genuine interest in others was shown when she returned to Chilliwack the second time and she spent many hours volunteering as the librarian for the children’s library on the Base and became the Base representative for the Save the Children Fund.
In the 1960s as an officer’s wife, Alberta and the other wives planned an annual “sherry party” to welcome in the new officer’s wives and families to the PMQs (permanent married quarters), now known as Garrison. This annual welcoming party transitioned into a job for Alberta and in 1968 Alberta started working for Royal Welcome.
This was a perfect job for her as she greeted newcomers to Chilliwack, visiting them in their homes to provide information about the community and gifts and coupons from local merchants. Alberta soon took over the business, brought on more sponsors and advertisers, along with a team of hostesses.
In 1993, she sold Royal Welcome and moved to Kelowna. After 6 months she realized Chilliwack was her true home and she missed Chilliwack too much, so she sold her home in Kelowna and returned to Chilliwack in 1994 (for the third time) to begin the next phase of her life in the home that she would live in until her final days.
Upon Alberta’s return to Chilliwack she quickly resumed her love for community service “yup …… I was there”. Alberta worked with “Seniors on the Go” and “Timeless Travelers”, both senior’s travel clubs.
When she was on the board of the Chilliwack Senior’s Resource Society, her priority was to attain a Senior Centre. In 1999 John Les (Mayor of Chilliwack) gave the CSRS space in the lobby of the Evergreen Hall for a Senior’s lounge and the Winnie Whitlam Lounge was born. To support the Lounge, Alberta started the “Lounge Lizard” newsletter.
The Lounge Lizard was a newsletter full of articles and information targeted to seniors. Alberta’s advertising and selling skills were fired back up as she found sponsors to support the publication. The lounge lizard grew, both by number of pages and number of copies printed. You could find copies at local senior care homes, senior activity centres and restaurants.
When Alberta was in her late 80s she decided it was time to discontinue publication. She was no longer able to drive and had to rely on many volunteers. With her strong sense of business and responsibility to the advertisers, she wanted to end on a high note and leave the publication’s memory strong before quality was compromised and deadlines were missed.
Always the adventurer, Alberta loved to travel. Her travels took her to many exotic locations, hitting all her bucket list countries, only leaving South Africa, South America and India as desired countries to explore. Never afraid of anything, she liked to experience the culture of wherever she was, including the local cuisine (many items that were not meant for our western digestive systems).
If you have ever had the pleasure to be in her home you would know that her favourite travel destination was Hong Kong, with red walls, Chinese furniture, pictures and keep sakes. In her later years she continued to travel within Canada, going to Churchill MB to see polar bears and the Baffin Island the northern portion of NWT to name a couple.
As a lifelong learner, she studied the locations she would travel before going so that she could truly appreciate the experience. Her days were consumed with the printed words. She read so much, that she would set a timer to make herself stop and get work done. She continued to read until macular degeneration and glaucoma robbed her from this daily pleasure.
Alberta was extremely proud to be the first one to walk through the doors of Elder College. This honour came as she sat in the winning seat at the Elder College launch party and walked through the “mocked up door”, but none the less she took that position seriously and attended classes until she was 94. She loved elder college as there was no pressure of an exam and there were many interesting topics she could choose from.
Alberta was a sharp dresser and always appeared quite dignified. Her hair, makeup and clothing were impeccable. She loved the army days with the regular formal occasions and fine dining with any excuse to get dressed up. Her love for shoes lives on in the next 3 generations.
Alberta was a short-term member of the “red hats” club. After suggesting that they might want to plan outings and get involved in community events it was suggested to her that she form her own group, so she did, and she created the “defunct red hats”. Although this group didn’t last long it might have been more of a statement by Alberta than anything else.
Alberta lived by her own terms right through to the end. Her long-stated wish was to live on her own and spend her final days at home, leaving “feet first”. This was all possible by the team of caring people that surrounded her. We give great thanks to you all. Dr. Gordon Enns who allowed her daughter Kathy to manage her care. Her loving friends Kim, Bertha, Gill, Lise and Ann who regularly took her out to lunch, visited and kept her active and Bev who has been her friend for 60 years.
To her neighbours Alice and Serge who saw her as friend and mother, watched out for her and had her over for dinner every week. Neighbours Brenda who kept her flowers healthy so she could enjoy them through her window and many other neighbours who were on watch. Patricia Cedilla who for the past 6 years has cared for Alberta every morning, helping with medication and personal care but mostly through friendship.
All who smiled and nodded when they heard the same story told once again. Kelly and Blake, who converted their consistent weekend visits, to social distanced day trips during the 6 months when COVID entered our lives. They ensured their connection remained during unprecedented times and were tirelessly by her side for the last two weeks of her life.
And to Cole Bruce, the palliative nurse who helped us with guidance on how to make her comfortable for her last few days. However, the number one reason that Nana could fulfil her wish was through the love of her daughter Kathy and the support of Kathy’s husband Marcel. Kathy provided Nana with the ability to live independently with watchful eyes, assistance and compassion. We are forever grateful for this gift that Kathy gave her.
One week before Nana moved to the “Happy Hunting Ground” (as she called it) she was asked what her favourite age was in her long life. Her response was “this age, and whatever age I am at that moment”. This sums up how she lived life. In the moment not looking back with regret or wishing for something in the future.
The clipping on her fridge says how she lived life best:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming, “Wow, what a ride”!!!
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