Mabel Alice Simmons (Bonnie) was born in Edmonton Alberta on April 15th, 1932. On December 27th, 2022, she travelled that final journey; one that she had longed for, ever since her speech and body failed. She left quietly, as was her style. On that evening, as she reached out for Jesus’ outstretched hand, and crossed the Great Divide, we trust that her beloved Ray was also waiting expectantly for her.
Mabel is predeceased by her husband of 69 years (Ray), her parents (Phyllis and Bill) and brother John. She is survived by her two sisters Betty and Barbara as well as her three daughters, Gail (Jim), Janet (Chuck), Laura (Gordon), four grandchildren Sherrie (Mike), Christine (Jordan), Ryan (Alanna), and Raylene. In turn, they produced Mabel’s six ‘great-grands’ - Kate, Krista, Charlie, Landon, Memphis and Kennedy.
Naturally quiet, creative, and physically active, Mabel passed on these ‘loves’ to her daughters. Her creativity shone whether she sewed her own stylish clothing, matching dresses for her young daughters or even a patch-worked quilt with scenes from ‘Little Women’. She sewed square-dancing skirts, detailed doll clothes, a large green dinosaur for Gail and neck ties for Ray. An introvert, Mabel was an avid reader and passed on her love of reading to her daughters. She stayed fit with daily walking and yoga. She loved walking for miles in the outdoors and did both well into her 80’s. For more than fifty years, yoga was routine for her and Ray - morning and night.
Mabel was an amazing organizer, money manager and planner. Ray was happy to go along with her ideas making him the yin to her yang. They both grew up in the depression and knew how to stretch a dollar and never waste. Mabel managed to stay home to raise the children on one income with her masterful budgeting skills. Because of her careful planning, we children, were gifted with clothes from Eaton’s $1.49 Days, book subscriptions and wonderful family holidays every summer. Grand Beach was her favorite place to rent a cottage for the last two weeks of June before the crowds came. The girls loved skipping school for that!
Mabel’s heart stayed closely connected with her Edmonton family. She was an avid letter writer and eagerly anticipated correspondence from her family. Every spring she took a train up to Edmonton and one lucky daughter might be invited to come along to connect with their cousins.
Mabel and Ray’s marriage stood strong through all the ups and downs of life, and they continued to love each other deeply even as they aged and could no longer live together during their last few (Covid) years. Their grounding came from their up-bringing but also their quiet Christian faith. They enjoyed active fellowship at St Bede’s and St. George’s Anglican churches and together were part of the prayer and visitation teams. They were always kind and generous, often at Mabel’s lead.
Mabel’s planning skills set up their social life as well. In their retirement they had membership/subscriptions to the Theatre Centre, the Pops Concerts, the Museum and the Art Gallery. Although Mabel somewhat reluctantly followed Ray around the world on tours to China, Turkey, Britain and Europe, she was happiest with visits to Edmonton or their monthly trips to Grand Forks and Fargo.
When Laura turned 12, Mabel trained as a data entry clerk for Eaton’s Catalogue Sales. After it closed, she worked to register students at the U of M. and then took an early retirement. Mabel had been a very conscientious mother and worker, and now, she had more free time. Mabel took her love of books and shopping to a new level. For a hobby, she became a collector and ‘picker’ for book dealers, (in particular, Gary Nerman on Osborne). She and her chauffeur, Ray, made the rounds to second-hand stores and garage sales throughout Winnipeg, rural Manitoba and even North Dakota. She always had a notebook that listed all the Nancy Drew or Hardy Boy sets she needed to complete as well as all the items family members had asked her to look for. She also collected retro toys and antiques. All this second-hand shopping gave her the idea to set up a Christmas store in her basement for the grandkids (and friends) to come and shop affordably. Five or ten dollars went a long way! As well, Christmas wouldn’t be complete for grandkids without a trip to the Eaton’s store to see Santa, view their fairytale vignettes and have lunch in the cafeteria.
Cooking and baking were not what Mabel enjoyed. She cooked the healthy basics. When they retired, Mabel jokingly hung a sign that said, “Equal Opportunity Kitchen’ and Ray learned he had added responsibilities. No one minded that the guest menu at gramma’s house was rather predictable. Regular Sunday lunches were certain to be tomato soup. Sunday suppers, lasagna. Mabel’s warm hospitality had little to do with her food menu. Sunday visits always included creative fun from a large antique wooden box, fondly called the ‘block box’. Blocks of all shapes and colours, along with retro windup toys would entertain everyone, along with puzzles, games and a family trip to a local playground. With warm hospitality, Mabel and Ray opened their home to grandkids and friends during summertime ‘Mini U’ weeks as they lived close by.
Mabel’s life-long interest in health and nutrition prompted her to develop her own version of a health cookie – ‘a meal in a cookie’ - long before protein bars were marketed. Those who were willing, were often sent home with a baggie full, to sustain them in work, hockey, or travels. Her fun nutrition idea spilled over into holidays. At Easter, her grandkids were likely the only ones in the world who received an eggcup with a kiwi in it!
As part of their retirement fun, Mabel and Ray made time for their grandchildren. Sleepovers were never complete unless there was a rousing board game of Masterpiece. After the game, Mabel would turn teeth-brushing from a chore into a fun commercial. They would speak into the mirror (90’s version of a smartphone video) to give their best pitch on their toothpaste and bright smiles.
Through the seasons of her life, Mabel’s love for her family was expressed by her actions. When her health failed, her family stepped in to express their love to her, as best they could. She moved into Westpark Manor just before the pandemic and broke her hip the next day. The following 3 years would never come close to the quality of life she experienced prior to that; however, Mabel’s life was enriched by her family and the professional care she received, as we all navigated the pandemic together. We very much want to thank everyone at Westpark Manor and especially those who truly care about the individuals and families that they support daily.
A small private family memorial service will be held later. In lieu of cards and flowers, please consider making a donation to any charity that protects the vulnerable, or perform a small act of kindness in Mabel's name.
Ronald Moffit Memorial Services of Portage la Prairie, MB in care of arrangements.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mabel Alice Simmons, please visit our floral store.