Obituary of Evelyn Christene Witmer
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WITMER, Evelyn Christene (McGillivray)
Born August 28, 1934, in Priceville, Ontario. Passed away peacefully on August 5, 2023, at the age of 88 at the Villages of Winston Park Long Term Care.
Beloved wife of her husband of 69 years, Ross D. Witmer; loving mother to her children Darleen Witmer (Ken Andruchow), Chris Witmer, Darwin Witmer (Janice Robinson-Witmer), Heather Gordier; devoted grandmother to Rachel Lees (Matt), Emily Kleist (Tim), Michelle Hartt, Derek Spence (Louise Carroll), Craig Spence (Jenny Warne), Ben Witmer, Jeff Witmer (Jill Dobbin-Witmer), Julia Witmer, Jacqueline Gordier, Sarah Gordier and Elyse Gordier; Great-grandmother to Katelynn Kleist, Harvey Kleist, Ashton Burr, Audrey Burr and Oakley Witmer. Canadian mother to Fred and Vida Adu-Lartey, and their children Ted (late Tanya), Ed (Audrey), Steve (Emily) and their grandchildren Avery, Jayden, Maxwell, Isaiah and Makai. Chosen grandmother of Sang Luong (Tam).
Also remembered by sister-in-law Lynne Hoffman (late Frank), brother-in-law Joe Witmer (Liz) and numerous nieces, nephews and extended family.
Predeceased by her parents; John and Kathleen McGillivray, her sisters; Florence Dolson (late Bob), Joyce Lekx (late Tony), Marianne Matthews (late Earl) and Catherine McGillivray, her in-laws; A. Lincoln and Edna Witmer, and their sons Elmer Witmer (late Monica), Darcy Witmer (late Donna) and Kenneth Witmer; as well as her daughter Dawn Witmer.
Growing up on a farm near Priceville, in Grey County Ontario, Evelyn learned to work hard as the third daughter of a poor farmer with no sons and at 13 she pitched all the hay and grain onto the wagons. At 14, she was forced to quit school to work on the farm and work for neighbouring families as a mother’s helper. At 15 she was sent to Baden, Ontario to work as a maid for the Veitch family at Castle Kilbride.
It was in Baden that she met Ross Witmer, and they married on May 3, 1954, while he was on leave from the Navy. Evelyn joined Ross in Halifax in June 1954 and gave birth to twins Darleen and Dawn in January 1955, but unfortunately Dawn died at birth. Chris was born in 1956 in Digby, Nova Scotia and Darwin was born in 1958 in Kitchener, Ontario after Ross had left the Navy. Heather was born in Kitchener in 1966.
After working various part-time jobs and a position at Schneider’s Meats where she sustained a workplace injury, Evelyn was finally able to attend Conestoga College to take business courses so she could work as a bookkeeper. This led to jobs at Electrohome, Albrecht Bros. Steel, the Uniroyal Employees Credit Union and eventually to her own home-based business, Remedy Business Services. She also held volunteer positions at the House of Friendship and the Elizabeth Fry Society in Kitchener. Always interested in life-long learning, she embraced computer technology early on for her business and personal life. As her mobility became limited, she was able to maintain social interaction and stayed connected via her iPad, Facebook and video-calling.
Throughout her life, Evelyn’s strong Christian faith has guided her to serve others, to call out injustice, to help the less fortunate and to be kind and welcoming to all. As a founding member of Calvin Presbyterian Church, Kitchener, she gave many hours to many groups and committees, started the church newsletter, helped in the church office and created enduring and meaningful friendships. Evelyn and Ross also helped many new immigrants through Friendship Family and refugee assistance programs.
She was an enthusiastic supporter of the endeavours of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and was happy to share her pride with others. She especially encouraged any artistic, musical or creative aptitude that might not have been encouraged during her childhood.
A champion for women’s rights, worker’s rights, human rights, equality and fairness, not afraid to speak her mind or share her opinion, guided by her Christian faith to make moral choices, and to love and accept others, she will be dearly missed by her family, her church congregation and the many lives that she has touched.
Special thanks to the doctors, nurses, PSWs, administrative, maintenance and cleaning staff at Pinehaven and Winston Park, as well as the other residents, that provided such good care and friendship to Evelyn the last few years.
Visitation will be held at the Erb & Good Family Funeral Home, 171 King St. S., Waterloo on Friday, August 11th, 2023, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The funeral service will take place at Calvin Presbyterian Church, 248 Westmount Road East, Kitchener, ON N2M 4Z1, on Saturday August 12th, 2023, at 2:00 pm, with the Reverend Frank Szatmari officiating. A livestream of the funeral service will be available on Evelyn’s tribute page of the funeral home’s website, www.erbgood.com. Reception to follow.
Condolences for the family and donations to Calvin Presbyterian Church, House of Friendship or a charity of your choice may be arranged through the funeral home, 519-745-8445 or www.erbgood.com.