(Jan. 3, 1918 – Jan. 6, 2007)
Mary passed away peacefully at the Waverly in Chilliwack at the age of 89 years.
She was predeceased by her husband Leslie Erwin (Mac) McCormick in 1983; sisters Ann Crane, Nettie Stoll and Helene Carleton, and brothers Jack and Abe Sawatzky.
She is survived by her children: Wes (Nancy), Doug (Linda), Pat and Judy; grandchildren: Rick and Scott (Denise) Borle, Susan Mirva, Wendy (Jody) Crane, Shanelle and Dustin (Chelsie Walker) McCormick, Tyler Campbell, Jade and Karver Morford; great grand-children: Catherine, Brody and Taylor Borle, Chris, Kyle and Brandon Mirva, Marvel and Navy Crane, Paloma, Brennon and Lacy McCormick.
She is also survived by her sisters Sue (Pete) Enns and Freda Starr, brothers Aron (Tillie) Sawatzky, Dean (Vi) Sawatzky and sister-in-law Lamae Sawatzky-Hill.
Born in Zentral Russia, the sixth of twelve children born to Abram and Anna (nee Peters) Sawatzky, Mom’s family joined the many other Mennonites forced to emigrate. They arrived in Canada in 1925 and settled in Zelma Saskatchewan where they farmed for six years before moving to Greendale.
She and her siblings learned good work ethics whether they wanted to or not, and high standards at home set the stage for getting a lot done for the duration. Mom worked on the farm in Greendale, then followed her sisters to Vancouver to work as a maid, learning the housekeeping skills she maintained throughout her life. And she had plenty of practice using them as it seems there was always someone to clean up after.
She met Dad, a heavy duty mechanic, through her brother Abe when he and Dad worked together on Collinson’s farm in Greendale. After five short years of courtship they finally married and moved back to Vancouver where Dad worked in the Shipyards and Mom worked at being a mom to first Wes, then Doug. A move to Reece Avenue in Chilliwack after the war brought Dad a new job and Mom Patricia, a new baby to clean up after. Next came the logging boom and off went the whole works of them to live up Harrison Lake at 10 Mile Bay, undeniably one of the happiest times of their lives where they and other young families like them shared many good times and the closeness of an isolated little tight knit community. An opportunity to own their own place found them back in Greendale where they bought two acres on Sumas Prairie Road and grew raspberries which Mom looked after while Dad still lived in the logging camp during the week, coming home on weekends. Then along came Judy, another one to clean up after.
Needing more for Mom to do they sold the place in 1955 and bought a ten acre “hobby” farm on Prairie Central Road where Mom could wile away her hours tending raspberries and beans, hand milking cows, looking after the chickens, planting, harvesting and canning vegetables, cooking, baking, washing and selling eggs…oh…and cleaning up after us.
Once we were all in school she was finally able to participate in activities outside the home and soon discovered the next great love of her life, curling. She was an active member of the Chilliwack Curling Club for over 40 years, not laying down her broom until the age of 84. She was also a member of the East Chilliwack Women’s Institute for almost as long, acting as secretary for many terms.
Through this enthusiastic and dedicated community service group Mom made life-long friends and joined them in contributing time and effort to many worthwhile local and global causes. She canvassed for charities such as Mothers March and the Canadian Cancer Society and was a long-time member of the Order of Foresters. She also worked in the local canneries.
She and Dad traded places with Doug and Linda and moved to Rosedale in 1981 where they only got to enjoy two years before Dad succumbed to leukemia.
In 1984 Mom moved into town where she was closer to the curling rink and she kept busy curling, knitting, crocheting, watching TV, nurturing flowers, and cleaning up after grandchildren and great-grandchildren until 2005 when she suffered a stroke and could no longer live on her own. She moved into the Waverly in the fall of that year and was able to get around pretty good with the aid of a walker until last June when a second stroke robbed her of her ability to walk or do anything on her own. It even stole her smile. That plus dementia were her rewards for a life well-lived. We all appreciate the great care she was given by the Waverly Staff throughout her stay with them.
Mom managed to raise us all without ever raising her voice – a stern look was all it took. She was long on tolerance (“Wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same?”) and family loyalty (“We think we’re normal!”). She was good humoured, good natured and admired by all whose lives she touched. She’ll be a hard act to follow.
A memorial tea will be held to celebrate her life at 2:00 pm on Saturday, July 13 at the Mt Cheam Lions (Riding Club) Hall, 45580 Spadina Avenue, Chilliwack.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation or the charity of your choice.