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Obituary of Leona Edith MATHER
Tribute from Kieren and Sandi:
Leona Edith Mather (nee Dickson) passed away on July 10, 2019. Leona was born in Tisdale, Saskatchewan to Gregory and Doris Dickson. She spent the majority of her adult life in Calgary, where she married James Mather. She and Jim got divorced, but remained amicable to the end. She leaves behind her two children (Kieren James Mather and Sandra Anne Mather) and her three grandchildren (Tyne, Brynn, and Egan).
Leona’s life was a potpourri of experiences and activities. She was very devoted to family and friends, and was always ready to open her house to visitors and new friends. She eagerly ‘adopted’ itinerant souls, and built a large family of not-so-temporary visitors including friends from South Korea, Spain, France and Japan. When Tyne was a baby she was happily integrated into this vibrant and dynamic household (the other grandchildren missed out on this experience by virtue of Sue and Kieren moving away to Indianapolis).
Leona also helped others through her teaching. She attended the University of Calgary to get teaching qualifications, and then taught English as a second language and worked at the Capitol Hill School in North Calgary where she helped with special needs students.
Leona’s working life was also in service to the family, first in owning and running the nursery school in Fairview and later running the dry cleaner shop on Elbow Drive. These working experiences produced lifelong friendships.
She was an intellectually interested person, pursing extra post-secondary training after the University work to obtain a certificate in Library Science from SAIT, and an avid Scrabble player. She loved reading, doing crossword puzzles, and watching cooking shows.
A major feature of all of our family’s lives was the trip to Mexico in 1976. Leona loved this experience, and fondly recalled a wide variety of specific events, places and people through the years. More friends accumulated from these experiences, including families from Mexico and El Salvador, and traveling companions from England. The souvenirs continue to fill her house.
Leona was joyful and full of life, eager to go treasure hunting at second-hand shops and delighted to cook a large meal for a collection of visitors. We will remember a loving, helpful and involved person who wanted to make all feel welcome and ‘part of the family’. She will be missed. A Celebration of Leona’s life will be held in Calgary on August 10, 2019.
Tribute from ex-husband Jim Mather
Leona Dickson Mather, my first wife, passed away today in Victoria. While we’ve been divorced for many years, I cannot forget - and need to honour - the good times of our marriage.
Foremost is the most wonderful gift she gave: our children, Kieren and Sandi, who provided so much joy to us both as they grew from babies to very responsible and accomplished adults. Their success in life is very much rooted in the love and guidance Leona gave to their upbringing, and in her teaching them how to behave in life. I remember vividly a number of occasions where the kids’ behaviour in restaurants was remarked on by others. I mean good behaviour of course.
Sandi has been Leona’s devoted caregiver for a number of years, with the emphasis on care, and has gone beyond expectations in ensuring her mother was as comfortable as possible during her long illness. Sandi was with Leona at the time of passing. Kieren too has stepped up to assist Sandi in the process, providing support and respite where needed.
Leona was a terrific helpmate as our family met the challenges of early career and advanced schooling. She was always there for me when schooling and work took a toll on my ability to see the good over the tough parts., and to remain focused on the future.
Of particular note for me are the times she took in foster children and provided love and care. In particular, I think of Lynne and Jonathon, whose family was having a rough time, and who stayed with us for several years. Leona gave them her unconditional love to help them become an important part of our own family and to grow as individuals for the time they were reunited with their parents.
By the same token, she was quick to “adopt” those who she met who needed to connect for friendship, advice or coaching. Peter, the pediatrician from Australia; Jin-Jin from China who benefited from English coaching while striving for her masters degree; and Shinonbu from Japan, who benefitted from a family life here in Canada. And as well the stray friends of these people whom Leona welcomed into our home for friendship and company.
I also respect Leona’s courage in taking on the adventure of our family year travelling through the US, Mexico and Central America. Dealing with a strange culture, with the challenges of travel by train and bus, strange and cheap lodgings, foods that were exotic and perhaps dangerous, and being protective about potential dangers to us and the children. We had a wonderful year away in no small part due to Leona’s actions and attitudes.
Often forgiving of my transgressions, able to recognize her own, able to see a way forward out of disagreements and arguments. While divorce happened we did forge a partnership for 34 years that gave us, and our children, times of satisfaction and joy.
You’re gone, Leona, but not forgotten. I see so much of your excellent qualities in both Kieren and Sandi. They are responsible and sensible adults whom any parent would be proud to claim. And I am.
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