Ethel Wolfe
Ethel Wolfe

Obituary of Ethel Patricia Wolfe

Ethel Patricia Wolfe (nee Kennedy)
March 17th, 1931 to March 4th, 2024

So how do you describe 93 years of a wonderful life, in a handful of paragraphs?  That’s hard to do, but here goes….

Ethel was born on St. Patrick’s Day, in 1931, at The Pas, Manitoba, to parents Allan and Theresa Kennedy.   She entered life at a challenging time, amid a worldwide depression, and WWII not far away.  The youngest of five children, but with Irish and French spunk in her blood, she learned how to survive, and thrive, with good instruction from a gifted family, of accomplished siblings.  Beginning with, oldest and only, brother Gordon, along with sisters, Rita, Kathleen and Margret, these siblings were, a close, life long, part of the family fabric, which always, remained paramount to Mother.  With her older siblings all being excellent athletes, Mom demonstrated her skill at speed skating, a sport which remained, a passionate interest of hers.
 After moving from the Pas Manitoba, to Portage la Prairie, and finally settling in Prince Albert, Sask., where she completed her education at the convent, with the Catholic Nuns in charge…(she mentioned they were very strict). Fortunately, she was not far away from meeting her ‘Knight in Shining Armor’. A happen-chance, but fortuitous meeting, when a young Arnold Wolfe was canvassing in his new job, with a company, later to be known as, SaskTel, and noticed a stunning photo of an even younger Ethel, which prompted an inquiry, and as they say, the rest was history. After a wedding ceremony at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Prince Albert in 1949, followed with a journey by train, all the way to Saskatoon, that served as their honeymoon.  From then on, she embraced Saskatoon with pride, as ‘her own’, and it remained her home for the rest of her life.

A family of her own soon began, with the birth of Brad in 1950, followed by Jim, Lisa and Patrick. She was predeceased when Arnold passed away in 2005, from heart disease, after 56 years of marriage.  As well, with the most unexpected passing of Brad, in 2008, at age 58, from a brain aneurism. It was moments such as this, when Mother could rely upon her Christian faith, to see her through difficult times. While, she was a ‘quiet Christian’, her faith remained life long.

Shortly after losing her husband, she moved into a condominium on Main Street, a short few blocks where she had lived for years on 10th Street. She lived independently in her condo until almost 93 years of age.  The condo was a source of much joy for Mom, as she made good friends, sat on the condo board, and regularly shared in activities and functions.

A beautiful woman, with movie star looks, and the style and grace to go with them, she enjoyed fashion, jewelry, and the accompaniments, that allowed her to generally be seen, looking her best.  The appropriate word to describe her approach, and how she presented herself, is ‘Classy’.

‘Accomplished’, would be another word, well suited to describe Ethel.  Life was busy, starting in the 50’s, with a young family, and an energetic husband, they were doing their best to ‘get ahead’ with what little money they had. A ‘Music Man’, Arnold played the tenor sax as a sideline gig, to earn extra money, with which they built their first home, themselves, by hand. At the same time, Dad was working his way up the ranks at SaskTel, eventually retiring as Assistant Vice President with thousands of employees.

Music was always a large part of life in the Wolfe household. A big ‘road trip’ to Prince Albert, was never complete without the sax and a banjo in tow. The 60’s brought roaring house parties, and helped to forge many lifelong friendships, too many to list, but notably, Dave and Shirley Taylor, and Gene and Sally Charko. A Saturday night was not complete, unless Gene and Arnold were harmonizing on their saxophones, while Shirley played the piano.

 So it only seemed fitting, that in 1966, Mom and Dad, along with their partners, purchased the dancehall, known to all, as the Manhattan Ballroom. From the ‘Cottonpickers’, to a little unknown band, called the ‘Guess Who’, those were exciting times.

Yes the 60’s were a busy time indeed, a growing family, a dancehall business, both Mom and Dad involved in the Lions Club, and those many fund raising events; yet, they still made time to help family and friends, when the need arose. Mom found the strength to carry the load, when Dad faced a serious accident in 1972, after falling off a roof, which came close to his demise.

The 70’s to the 90’s, kept Mom very busy.  She made time to create masterful gardens at Simpson Crescent, where we enjoyed ‘back alley’ potatoes before anyone, as Mom was busy planting, and the snow had hardly left. Always taking pride in the appearance of her home, she decorated it exquisitely, with unique furniture, fine china, and of course, the ‘angels’, countless numbers of angels in every shape and size. The walls and even the famous ‘refrigerator door collection’, displayed her most prized photos, that of her entire family.  She found time to join, and become a gifted Toastmaster. She dedicated 30 years as a volunteer to Birthright, an organization that helped young girls and ladies, face an unplanned pregnancy. She forged new relationships, as her children married and created new families of in laws, in which, she always was that presence of grace and class. Even as divorce created separation in her children’s marriages, she had Grandchildren by then, and continued to maintain the best of relationships with everyone. One of her later endeavors was to join a group called the ‘RedHatters’, to keep the social spirit alive.

Following the roof incident in ’72, Dad suffered a significant heart attack in 75’.   After a lengthy period to convalesce, Mom recognized that time was precious, so she committed them to several years of travel.  After countless cruises, tours and trips, they managed to visit some 54 countries.

Mom and Dad always enjoyed watching, participating, and encouraging their sons, as they bought old run down houses and renovated them to marketable standards. Those collective skills, they taught, of all aspects of construction and decorating, went on to provide a good living for their children and grandchildren.

Automobiles were also a large part of Moms history.  She obtained a license shortly after marrying, and treasured the freedom it provided, her entire life. She had some great cars, many which would be lovely to have this day. The classic 56 Chevy, a 67 Malibu 2 door, an early sixties Nova, and of course, the Pink Cadillac…. but there were a couple of duds as well; the Morris Minor, and a Ford Cortina. When renewing her operators license at age 90, she was asked, ‘for what term would you like to renew?’ ever the optimist, she chose the ten year renewal.

We all know, that you don’t get to choose your parents, but I am certain, that we can collectively say, that we hit the jackpot! It was the Lotto Max win of a lifetime. On all the earth, we could not have been more fortunate, than to have been provided with such a gift, as were our parents. On behalf of your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren please know that you were, and are, forever loved, and never forgotten.

On behalf of our family, we would wish to extend our most heartfelt appreciation to all of the staff at RUH and St. Paul’s hospitals, which provided genuine caring treatment to our Mother. In particular, those ‘special’, and kind, staff at Palliative Care in St. Paul’s

So now Mom, it is your turn to rest, sit back, and relax, and listen to those rich notes that Dad would create, as he would play you, one of your favorite songs, The Tennessee Waltz.

A celebration of life will be conducted at a later date, to be announced.

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