The Goodwill Committee reaches out by sending birthday cards to members aged 80 and older, as well as acknowledging bereavements, illness and other life occasions. Committee members also make phone calls and, when feasible, in-person visits and interviews, to mark significant birthdays. For the Holiday season, the committee arranges the presentation of poinsettias or other gifts to members in long-term care or retirement homes and “senior” seniors living independently. Please let Goodwill Committee members know of any RTO/ERO -Lambton member whose circumstances have changed.

Kathy Bandla - kbandla@cogeco.ca;    Pat Gleason - patgleason@cogeco.ca    Linda Smith jturvey@mnsi.net   


Lois Marilyn Ellen Gray was born on April 21st, 1934.
Her parents were James and Lyla Gray of Plympton township. Lois was the only girl with six brothers.
She was always proud that she shared a birthday with the late Queen Elizabeth.
Lois attended a one room school just outside Wyoming called SS 41/2  for seven years and then went to Wyoming public  school for grade eight.
Lois attended Petrolia  District high school where she  participated  and enjoyed  the choirs and Drama clubs.
In 1953 she attended London teachers College . This was the former normal school. The school was designated as a college because  it now  offered both one and two years of teacher training.
For three summers Lois attended summer school in Toronto after which she and and Paul Marley were married and moved to Toronto where Lois taught in a large  elementary school and Paul finished his degree at College of Pharmacy, university of Toronto.
When Paul graduated in 1958, they moved back to Sarnia area. Lois again was hired by the Sarnia board of Education and began teaching at Errol Rd elementary school.
In 1962, Lois and Paul purchased the pharmacy and business from Paul’s parents and continued there for 49 years.  Lois helped in the store as well as doing some supply work  in the Wyoming and Petrolis   area schools ,   Wherever they lived in those years Lois participated in choirs as well as a vocal soloist. She also was busy with Sunday school  work.

Upon retirement they enjoyed much travelling including a  cruise each year as well as a yearly trip to U K where their youngest son  and family lived.
They also did a church service and hymn sing each week at local nursing homes before Covid..
Sadly Paul died two years ago after sixty six years of marriage.
Lois  is still in the united church choir as well as a  community choir.
She is so thankful of the support of her family and also the private help she has so she can still stay in her own home.


Marylin Garrett

After an idyllic childhood in Kitchener On where I was born in 1934 to a mother who was a “home child “ from Ireland and a father who ran his families Glove business, I eventually obtained a history degree from UWO because I always loved school-mainly for its socialization.

Moving to Toronto to attend OCE, I taught at Leaside High 1958-1962.  Teaching jobs were so plentiful then that the Globe and Mail ran 8 pages of ads for them.

I luckily met  and married Lorne  who taught in Scarborough and after our two sons were born we moved to the welcoming community of Sarnia to be closer to his aging parents.   Lorne taught at Northern and I became a full time homemaker. We made many friends .

Being a bad bridge player and hating curling  and cooking ,I got a job teaching history at Central in 1969 and went to Great Lakes after Central closed.

Life passed quickly with family graduations , weddings and 5 grandchildren on which to dote.

Taking advantage of early retirement, offered in 1989 to make room for newer teaching grads, Lorne and I were lucky to travel the world for the next 30years while still spending our summers and autumns at the Port Elgin family cottage where I had gone since 1937.

Moving to Fairwinds just before Covid hit, Lorne and I were happy there until our unit was completely burnt out in January of 2023.

In the words of Joannie Mitchell’s song “you don’t; know what you got till its gone “

Thats when you realize your family is irreplaceable.   Son Hugh and his wife Judy ( also retired teachers ) not only had us at their house, but worked  tirelessly at getting us  replacement documents, clothing ,  furniture etc.and moved us to Landmark where we spent the next 10 months until Fairwinds reopened . We are grateful also to son Alex and his wife Julie who did all they could for us from London On.

Unfortunately Lorne’s  health declined quickly and he died at age 91  this past January .I am consoled by the 63 married years we had together .

Thanks also to RTO and their wonderful support and interest throughtout our.lengthy  retirement

Doris Withenshaw
Doris WithenshawDoris Luella Moulton was born on January 11, 1924, to her parents John and Maggie Moulton. She had a twin sister Daisy. They were born at the family home – a farm in Dawn Township - and were numbers 6 and 7 of 8 children. Her parents strongly encouraged their children to pursue education, even having them go to live with their grandparents in Dresden during their high school years to insure they could complete their education. Doris went to work as a teacher at SS#21 Sombra, after completing her teacher’s education. She says this particular school was originally started by her Grandma Davidson, who also boarded the teacher. Doris also taught at Wabash, and she boarded with a local resident. These were 1 room schools with 8 grades, wood stoves and outhouses! Doris tells a story of killing a mouse with a carefully aimed blackboard brush – to the cheers of the students for Miss Moulton.
In 1950, Doris married Byron Withenshaw, who also was a teacher, and they moved to Kentucky for Byron to pursue his Bachelor of Divinity at Asbury Seminary. Doris attended Asbury College and completed her BA at the same time. On their return to Ontario, they moved to Hamilton where Byron pastored a church and then went on to become the President of a Church College in Lorne Park. Doris kept busy raising a family of 4, and encouraging their love of learning and books!
She did not resume her teaching career full time, but when they moved to Cambridge in the mid 1960’s, she did put her name on the supply teaching list and was kept quite busy. She enjoyed the work, especially when she was able to go to some of the local country schools. Not one room schoolhouses, but still country schools. She took supply work in both elementary and high schools. Her son’s English class was mesmerized by her reading of “Casey at the Bat” and sat in stunned silence when, “the mighty Casey had struck out”.
Doris ‘s teaching skills were utilized well through the years, teaching Sunday School at the churches they attended. She was close to 80 when she retired from that. She kept very busy in her retirement years. Babysitting grandchildren, taking art lessons, quilting with the Sarnia Quilters Guild and doing some travelling as well. One of her passions was overseeing the Historical Building at the church campgrounds near Thamesford Ontario, organizing and preserving the history of the Free Methodist Church in Canada. She pursued this work into her 90’s. We are thankful as a family, for her love and example

Denise RaicheDenise Raiche (Feb. 2024, 90 yrs old)

Life is a gift
My sister and I left Timmins, by train,arriving late August 1958. The heat, the smog,
the sulphur smell – SARNIA.
Learning is my passion, therefore teaching was a sensible choice.
Here is the fast track to a lifetime career
: St. Joseph School – a remarkable principal St Hildegarde
: St Patrcia Grade 9 and 10 History, Geography, French – a heavy workload
: School libraries. I laminated hundreds of book covers for my poetry contest
: Ecole St.Thomas d'Aquin – a unique school with it's distinct French Canadian

Highlights: Setting up the first school library at Sacred Heart School
A month long course at Quimper, Bretagne in language and culture, compliments
of the French government. I gained 4Kilos.
Life also happens outside of work. I enjoyed family, church friends, hobbies and shopping.
Summers were for travelling. My favourite sport is walking.
After retirement, I volunteered at Bluewater Health.
No matter how I feel, I get up, dress up and show up for life!
Bio written by Denise Raiche

Dwayne Mclinchey
Ninety Years, where have they gone?
It all began on a farming community midway between Grand Bend and Parkhill, Ontario where I was born. I had an older sister and a younger brother.
As I grew, I realized that rural life in those days required much manual labour. Every family member was expected to assist with daily chores which included milking cows, feeding livestock, chopping firewood, plus many other tasks.
At age six I began school at a one room country school that included eight grades, All under the guidance of one teacher. I was very fortunate to have had excellent teachers who worked very hard in providing meaningful educational experiences for all students. During my last year in this school, I assumed the duties of custodian. This meant keeping the classroom neat and tidy each day, as well as lighting the furnace in cool weather and carrying water from across the road.
High School presented new challenges for me. Fortunately by this time busses were provided for transporting students to high school. I was determined to do well at the secondary level, so I worked hard but enjoyed the opportunity to learn each day.
At this point I spent much of my time taking music lessons on the piano. This led to being convinced to help with the music program at churcn. I did not realize at  tne time that it would deveop into a life time interest In church music and eventually some experience in playing pipe organs. Because of my interest in music, I set a personai goal that I would continue with this interest in music until I would be ninety years oid. That goai has been reached at the present time.
With the completion of high school I was forced to decide my next step. Teaching was one of the possibilities, so I enrolled in Normal School. (now called Teachers College). Fortunately I was awarded teaching positions with the Petrolia Public School Board and later LCCVI secondary school.
During this time I met and fell in love with a Petrolia girl. Noreen Kells, a nursing student, who later became my wife.
Together we raised a family of four; three daughters and one son; Janice, Judith, Jill, and Jeff. It gave us great pleasure watching them grow up and becoming successful citizens
At this point I became aware of the need to improve my teaching qualifications. This meant taking courses after school hours and during the summer. After much hard work I was awarded a university degree.
At retirement time I felt that I needed another challenge. When the opportunity presented itself; I accepted a management position with the local branch of the Canadian Red Cross. I found it refreshing to be involved with such a large organization that was doing so much good throughout the world.
And now retirement proper; where I can take "power naps" whenever I wish.
In fact, I must close this story now as I feel a nap coming on!


Janice GreidanusJanice Greidanus Baker was born on April 24, 1933 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.  During the Second World War and right afterwards, our schooling was somewhat precarious, to say the least.

In 1950, our family emigrated to Edmonton, Alberta.  Four years later, I married my sweetheart, Horace Baker.  Both of us became interested in taking more education.   I started taking high school courses by correspondence. We  lived in Edmonton, in  Winnipeg for a number of years and then in Ottawa.   In 1972 I successfully completed Ottawa Teachers College, persevered in taking many University courses by correspondence, in the evenings or summer.  My reward was a B.A. from Western in 1985.  In the meantime our family had moved to Sarnia in 1974 which has been "my sweet home" since then.

I taught at Ottawa Christian, Wyoming Christian, Sarnia Christian and then 9 years as FSL teacher at St. Theresa’s  and Sacred Heart in Sarnia.

My husband, Horace Baker, and I enjoyed spending time in Quebec in order to fully immerse ourselves in French culture.  In 2006 I took Gr. 11 and 12 Spanish at St. Pat’s which came in handy when I volunteered at 2 week Eye Care Clinics in South American countries.  Before going on a trip somewhere, I try to study its language and culture  for at least 3 months which makes the actual trip much more enriching.

We have four married children living in B.C., Alberta and Ontario, 10 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.  I am thankful that I am able to use the computer, and Facetime to keep in contact with them and other family members. 

Weekly, I participate  in a conversational Dutch group via Zoom, with RTOERO in French and enjoy reading in French or English, having been an active Book Club member for more than 20 years.   Many hours in the past were spent visiting shut-ins,  volunteering at something in the church, or art events.  Before Covid, my life was enriched so much by taking bus trips with Beyond Borders, Trafalgar or Great Canadian.  Through borrowing DVDs from the Public Library, I still “visit” other countries.

By God’s grace I have been able to deal with the challenges in my life, like the sudden loss of my soul mate in 1996,  and later on getting used to the limitations of mobility.  I really appreciate the flowers I received for my recent 90th birthday.  Such a lovely gesture of friendship which warms my heart. 



Dolores (Doyle) Murray
Having had a very full and rewarding life, I find it hard to believe that I had time to reach 90 years! But here I am!

I was born at home by Nurse Dubbin, who delivered most of the babies in our neighbourhood. My arrival thrilled my parents, Bert and Bell Doyle, who waited 20 years for this to happen. I was their only child. I was brought up in Whitney Pier, a part of Sydney, Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton Island. The "Pier", as we called it, was the first multicultural community in Canada. It was home to people from Ireland, Scotland, Italy, France, Ukraine, Hungary, Lebanon, and Greece.

My mother was a very progressive woman, and so I became the first girl from the Pier to attend St. Francis Xavier University. It was there that I met my future husband, Robert, from Boston. Shortly after we graduated, we got married. We lived with my parents and later rented their upstairs apartment for $30 a month!

We were married for 57 years despite our outward incompatibilities: he was from a big city, I was from a small town. He was the youngest of ten, I was an only child. He was an American, I was a Canadian. He was an introvert, I was an extrovert. The only common denominator was our Catholic faith. But as they say, opposites attract. I lost Bob in 2011 and I still miss him every day.

My first teaching job was in Glace Bay. Because I often missed the only bus, I would hitchhike, being picked up by the pop truck or the bread man who I knew because my dad had a variety store. My next job was in Sydney. My husband taught Junior High math and I taught Home Economics. I recently met a student of Bob's who said he was the best math teacher she ever had. I taught sewing and my best friend, Kay, taught the cooking. (Kay later became head of Home Economics for the province of Nova Scotia.)

In 1956 Bob was working for less than $2500 a year. By this time we had 3 children. His friend attracted us to Alberta where Bob would earn $7000! It was hard to refuse the offer. I only taught for 3 months at Crescent High School in Calgary. At that time Ernest Manning High School had closed circuit TV in each class for supply teachers. The affluence was overwhelming. I could have taught full time but I was busy raising our family. Because of the opportunity, it was tempting to stay in Alberta but our hearts were in the east. We did not want to return to Cape Breton so we settled in Sarnia, close enough for me to go home to Cape Breton for summer vacations.

In Sarnia, Bob taught in the elementary system, and was a very traditional teacher. When the Hall Dennis Report was introduced in the schools, he left the profession. He switched careers and worked at the Bluewater Bridge Authority. I returned to teaching once the children were school aged. I taught Family Studies for 26 years at St. Patrick's High School and I loved it! Because I was the only Family Studies teacher in the Separate system, I really appreciated it when the public school teachers included me in their meetings.

I retired in 1996 and never looked back. Presently, I am enjoying my life here in Sarnia. With 4 of our 7 children living here, I have been blessed to be a regular part of their lives and my grandchildren's and great grandchildren's lives. I continue to see my old St. Pat's colleagues, enjoying lunches, dinners, and going to the theatre. I even get back to the "Pier" every year in October! This Pier Girl is enjoying life and all that it, and my profession, has offered me!

Bertha-Rose (Annett ) Park
Live in Inwood on Park Street
Born: Dec. 2, 1932. Brooke Township, Lambton County

EDUCATION: Elementary, Secondary, Normal School, University
Location and dates
1. Elementary S.S. # 5 Brooke Township , started after Easter Break one-room
2. Secondary Watford District High School 1946-1951
3. London Normal School 1951-1952
4. University of Western Ontario. B.A. ’72, MEd ’78, M.A.T. ’86 ( Master of Arts In Teaching - Geography )
5. Numerous Departmental courses including a specialist certificate

TEACHING EXPERIENCE: schools and dates
Watford Public 1952-53
Alvinston Public & Brooke Central 1967-82
Sabbatical and earned second Masters (U.W.O.) 1982-83
Brigden Public 1983-87
Wyoming Public 1987-1989
Travelled several years with Field Trip Canada planned by London Free Press,
assisted by Sheila Rose ( Petrolia teacher ).
Some locations included Northern Ontario, New Brunswick, Yukon
This was at the end of the school year and before summer school started.

FAMILY 3 daughters, one son
Husband Marshall Park. ( Deceased ( 2019 )
Diane Park RN retired registered nurse 43.5 years at Toronto Western Hospital.
Marilyn McKinlay retired Westover Treatment Centre Thamesville
Tom Park retired Arlanxeo Sarnia
Beth Michailidis employed at Parkwood Hospital London
6 grandchildren
8 great-grandchildren

1, Womens’ Studies Certificate - University of Western Ontario
2. Supply teaching
3. Literary programs at Retirement Homes ( separate school board )
4.Ontario Senior Games - including swimming medalist for Ontario at Activist in Ottawa 2000
5. Line Dancing Instructor - Young At Heart group entertain for 20 years
6. Clogging with groups in London, Sarnia, Watford, Petrolia
7. Founding Member of Crown Jewels of Canada ( inception 2008), Golden Senior (90 years), Queen of Eureka Jewels, Petrolia
    member of Sassy Angels - London, Participated in Annual Convention in Etobicoke, Ontario 2022
    Making plans for Convention in Etobicoke, Ontario 2023
8. Member, queen, ambassador for the Red Hat Society ( worldwide ) for more than 20 years, Eureka Red Hats Petrolia, Wacky Women - Southern    Ontario Groups in London
9. Member of Boomers (seniors ) at Petrolia YMCA, Friday Sisters Alvinston, Inwood - Shiloh Church, Inwood Book Club, Inwood Writing Club
10.TRAVEL Before and After Retirement
sailed on the Empress of Canada ( ship ) to England , Scotland, France
Travelled in Canada and U.S.A. by bus and plane Australia and New Zealand, Hawaii
Travelled with daughter after we both graduated the same year from Western University -to England, Mediterranean cruise, Holy Land - Bethlehem, Jerusalem,, Turkey, Egypt in Cairo and Alexandria
Autumn of 2022 , at a ceremony at U.W.O. received a lapel pin in recognition of 50 years since I received one one of my degrees.

Attending line dance workshops
Clogging Workshop “Snowdance” in Sarnia February 2023
Visiting family in Toronto, Orillia and other Ontario locations
Own a managed woodlot in Euphemia Township - anticipate a harvest of 1000 trees in winter of 2023
Continue to have family gatherings in this woodlot , and visit “little people” who live there in hollow stumps.
We never see them but we think they look like gnomes. Their homes are very fancy with tiny
furniture , and a fireplace inside. They decorate for Thanksgiving, and Christmas ( battery
operated lights up the trunk ) They leave notes for visiting children, even candy treats for Halloween .
When trees are harvested their homes will be fine.
Fitness classes at Petrolia YMCA
Exercise classes and Social Events - Lambton Elderly Outreach
Jamborees where there is music and dancing
Drive wherever I want to go

Marian Douey

Congratulations to Marian Douey on her 102nd birthday. Marian celebrated her special day at her home with family and friends.
Marian would like to say thank you our local RTO District 38 for all it has done, and continues to do, to recognize her throughout the years.
She sincerely appreciates being remembered!

Read a more detailed bio of Marian further down this page.

Doug Barber

With the creation of County School Boards in 1969 Doug returned to his home county. Born in Petrolia, raised in Alvinston, attended Alvinston Public School and Continuation School until it closed in 1946 when all went to Watford District high School. Off to London Normal School in 1950, followed by a year of teaching in a one room School at Crumlin, a year at Manor Park in London before marying Evelyn Bradshaw in 1953. Off to what is now Mississauga to teach Doug then became a principal in 1957. After 7 years Doug got the opportunity to go to France as a principal for two years with DND. On their return to Peel Board of Education as a principal he completed his Med and qualified as an Ontario Inspector of Schools. Life moved quickly and in 1969 he returned to his Home County.
 Doug and Evelyn had two daughters Jill and Pamela, and son Darrin. With a north Sarnia home location they all enjoyed participating at Grace United and The Sarnia Riding Club. Jill went off to York and became a teacher, Pam went to Ottawa and returned to Sarnia where she worked as a Probatio Officer, married Charles Lutz, had two children, Alexander and April. Darrin worked in the chemical valley, married and in 2010 moved to St John NB where he lives with Ann and two adult
girls. After 18 very enjoyable years as a school superintendent with the Lambton County Board of Education he retired in 1987. This was followed by a brief career in Real Estate. During those next 18 years Ev and Doug played golf at Greenwood and sailed out of the Sarnia Yacht Club on the Genie B.
Unfortunately life made an abrupt turn when Ev died suddenlyi n 2005. With the compassion and caring of Peter and Bev Cassel Doug met Cairn, who had lived in Corruna when her husband worked at Hydro. In 2012 Doug and Carrin moved to Simcoe where Cairn’s daughter lived. Her mother at 102 years still lives in Renfrew. Simcoe made it possible to go north and west.
Of all the places Sarnia, on the lake and river is as good as it gets. For 18 years I enjoyed the teachers and staff of the schools. The welcome and acceptance of this stranger into your midst was appreciated daily but change comes in one’s life and retirement beckoned in 1987. Can you imagine a retirement of 35 years as of now? The trip has been fun but not without some pain when I lost my wife Evelyn very suddenly in November 2005. Family and friends gathered round and life goes on. In a short period of time I met Cairn, a widow, who lived in Corunna when her husband worked at Hydro. We found similar interests and a move to Simcoe where are we now live.  The highlight of her life and mine is her mother who turned 102 on February 28. She lives with another daughter in Renfrew.

As the wheel turns Ev and I had purchased a home in Florida in 1993. We enjoyed our years there as Cairn and I have but Covid forced us to not go for two years and as the calendar says there is a time and the sale of the place has been completed. Life has been wonderful and thank you for letting me share mine.

Mary Jean (Pritchard) Gardiner Happy 90th Birthday!

Mary Jean was born and raised in Petrolia. As she says...”A true Hard Oiler”! She attended business college in Sarnia for a year, and then went into teaching.
Mary Jean taught eighteen students in grades 1 to 8 for two years at SS21 Sombra. Mary Jean continued her career by teaching junior grades at George
Perry School in Sarnia for 26 years. She spent her last seven years in resource at Centennial School.
While teaching, Mary Jean obtained several specialist certifications including special education and many others. She was also involved in the local and
provincial teachers' unions. Mary Jean is an honorary life member of FWTAO and RWTO.
Mary Jean married Joe Gardiner in 1973 and moved to Bright's Grove. She has three step-children and four grandchildren living in British Columbia, Nova Scotia
and Ontario. Mary Jean now resides back in Petrolia.
After retiring at 55 years of age, Mary Jean did a lot of volunteer work. Some of these activities included story hour at the library, Alzheimers Society, Lambton
County Music Festival, and nursing home volunteer work. She was very active in the Presbyterian Church, holding several positions, even leading some services
when needed.
After having been retired from teaching for 35 years, Mary Jean continues to do knitting and crocheting for the Salvation Army. In 2019, she reached her goal of
donating 100 pairs of mittens that year. She had also donated several lap blankets that she was able to crochet.
Mary Jean stays active at her residence by lending a helpng hand whenever and wherever help is needed

Anne Wilton: Congratulations on your 90th birthday
Anne attended London Normal School and began her teaching career in Vercholye, southwest of Ingersol in 1950. There was a general store, a cheese factory, a church and a school in the small farming community. Anne taught 40 of the younger students in the two room school. The senior room
had 35 students. One memory is the tradition of the daily “hot lunches” prepared by the senior students. These were served from December to March and really only consisted of one food item, for example: Monday-tomato soup, Tuesday-hot potatoes, Wednesday-macaroni/cheese,etc..The problem was that all children do not like the same foods. Also, the pudding was often burned by the students making it, and one time, the boys carrying the pot of boiled potatoes dropped the kettle and they were all over the floor. Eventually, Anne and the other teacher convinced the director to get rid of the hot lunches.
After 2 years in the country school, Anne taught the next 4 years in London. Anne married and spent the rest of her teaching career in Windsor. She always wanted to teach kindergarten, and since Windsor did not require piano skills, she taught the rest of her career in kindergarten. Anne saw the value of early education, and worked on a committee to help get JK into all schools.
In 1980, they bought a cottage near Forest. Anne has 2 daughters and enjoys spending time with her 4 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren at the cottage and her home in Grand Bend.
Anne's hobbies include choir singing (was in the rainbow Singers), and playing bridge.

William Campbell Blake

Bill was born in Ottawa Civic Hospital Nov. 1,1931. His mother Annie Moody and father William Stanley Blake met at Queen’s University. He is brother to Bob, Bettianne and Heather. He is father to Peter, Cathy and Cyndy and grandfather to 9 grandchildren. Martin, Kerry, Tracey, Erin, Brad and Tom are members of his extended family. He is married to Doreen (Gabriel) Blake.
As a teacher, principal, headmaster and director, his father moved the family to many places including S. Porcupine, Port Hope, Bronte, Kingston, Etobicoke and Bermuda. The location with the most stories about life as a young person was Bermuda. Bill talks about his days of fishing, spearing lobster for dinner, surfing and exploring the many caves. In school they were taught to use guns in case the German submarines surfaced on the reefs and there was an attack. Each member of the family had specific tasks and Bill’s was to take home the family cow from the pasture and look after the dogs. After graduating from high school in Bronte, Bill worked in Toronto with Canada life. There he met and married Fran, the mother of his children.
Then, as a student at Queen’s University, he went on to obtain his degree and teacher’s certificate. To support his family, he drove a taxi in the evenings, groomed and showed Afghans for a friend, and worked as a packer in a grocery store. He certainly enjoyed playing bridge both at school and university. His teaching career began as Head of Geography at Lorne Park and then AB Lucas Secondary School, both in London. Then he was a Geography Consultant with the Ministry of Education visiting Secondary Schools in Ontario. He came to live in Sarnia when he was appointed Superintendent of Program. He specifically worked with special assignment teachers, a group of 7 educators, to create curriculum for the Elementary schools. We all remember “the orange crush binders.” He helped to promote the Young Authors’ program and Annual Conference. 5 years later he went to Timmins as Director of Education.

As Director, he visited some of the isolated First Nation communities of Northern Ontario to learn about their education and development needs. Students from these communities came to Timmins for their education and he wanted to know more about their backgrounds.There was a high rate of school dropout, suicides and a community of low self esteem. Once he retired as director he was asked by the First Nation communities for help. He started Norquest Associates Inc. to do educational consulting and leadership development. It went far beyond education and involved leadership, development of the entrepreneurIal spirit and helping them to become self-sufficient. With his guidance the Attawapiskat First Nation Education Authority was established. They set out on a course of reform that included hiring more native and non-native teachers, implementation of a secondary school curriculum, introduction of First Nations studies and an emphasis on technical and skills training. He spearheaded the opening of $24 million Vezina Secondary School and lobbied for the funding of a $5 million sports complex. Other communities started to ask for the same kind of help. He had promised to work for 2 years but this went on for 9 years. He made more than 200 flights to the remote communities of Attawapiskat, Kashechewan and Fort Albany. He built up a trust and understanding with the First Nation's people over these years.
Bill’s work with the First Nations communities earned him the Order of Ontario. Many family members, friends and First Nations community members travelled to Toronto to help him celebrate. He was honoured with a sweet grass ceremony, a spiritual event spoken in Cree. He was blessed with a beautiful dream catcher. Within this award he was also recognized for his dedication to the Kidney Foundation of Canada. Bill is a past president of the local chapter, past president of the Kidney Foundation of Greater Ontario and past co- chairman of the Foundation’s National Research Council. He is also on the Mayor’s Honour list in Sarnia, Ontario.
Bill returned to Sarnia 28 years ago when he and Doreen were married. Now retired from teaching after 35 years in England (1 year) and Sarnia, Doreen often travelled to the North with Bill. Then together they created a new company, Norquest Learning Systems for training and consulting. It was an extension of their backgrounds as educators and allowed them to continue to learn new things and take new challenges.They joined up with Inscape Publishing and became top Canadian Distributors and the first to achieve the company’s Diamond Executive Award. Bill developed one of the first websites for promoting this new business.
The young family enjoyed summers at his parent’s farm home at Deseronto on the Bay of Quinte. Exploring Northern Ontario, mostly in the Algonquin area, became a favourite vacation. Camping, canoeing, portaging, swimming, tracking wolves and taking photos were pastimes enjoyed by Bill and his family. A love of wolves meant a lot of research being done for many years. He always had a Wolf Calendar on his Christmas list. They enjoyed skiing from their ski lodge in the beautiful Beaver Valley. Later with Doreen, visiting his daughter and family in Ghwanzou  was one highlight in his travels. Days were spent walking on the Great Wall of China, visiting pearl and opal markets, tours with a guide especially at the many markets, and savouring the exotic food at the various restaurants.
Visits to Doreen’s families in Spain, England and Scotland over the years are still very memorable. With family, Bill’s 70th birthday was celebrated in a Scottish Castle, on the banks of Loch Lomond. His dream of being “piped in “ by a piper was realized that night and the address to the haggis was certainly enjoyed. Attending Doreen’s godson’s wedding in a glen, in the wilds of Scotland is certainly remembered. Visiting the many distilleries in the beautiful areas of Scotland led to a love of Scotch and more research. Palm Springs, Las Vegas and Sedona were favourite places to spend time attending International Training Conferences and enjoying recreational times. Hundreds of photos of the Red Rocks are in a collection of photo albums.
Bill’s interests have always been dogs, playing bridge, tennis and squash. In high school he was an award winning runner. He has had a number of dogs as companions. His first one.... given to him by his father when Bill was only 2 was a terrier named Shag. ..... His last dog was Max, a majestic Schnauzer. He certainly is a life-long learner. He has spent many an hour on his computer, learning new techniques, listening to webinars, creating Blogs, playing Solitaire and researching topics of interest-The Ring of Fire, Scotch, The Empire Loyalists, Family Genealogy.
Bill's mantra is ”Let each become all that he was capable of being.” He has always put this into practice in his life, encouraging many young people, mentoring people including his own family members. He has always been an advocate for “the underdog.” As Bill continues on in his 91st year he is wished a peaceful journey surrounded by family and friends.

Al McLean
During my third year in high school (SCITS) my mother received a letter from a friend in northern Ontario: “Would Alan be interested in teaching at our one-room school next year?” I hastily declined but a seed was planted...
In 1950 a prospective candidate for Normal School had to have five Grade 13 subjects, including English Literature and English Composition. Due to my greater interest in sports (high school football and basketball as well as Senior Lacrosse with the Sarnia Beavers), I had to repeat Grade 12 English. Without telling Miss Howden, my English teacher, I applied to the Ministry of Education for permission to write my Grade 13 English as well as my Grade 12 English. I studied very hard, even secluding myself at an elderly neighbour’s house so I could not be contacted by school friends. I passed Grade 13 Literature (B) and for English Composition I scraped through with a D. London Normal school accepted me!
It seems hard to believe now but the three of us, Dick Acton, George Abell and I, hitchhiked to London every Sunday afternoon and repeated the adventure every Friday afternoon, back to Sarnia. In those days, hitchhiking was an acceptable form of travel.
I think my parents made a mistake when they chose to name me - “Frederick Alan McLean.” Harry Moore, chairman of Plympton Area 2 School Board and manager of the Camlachie Wildcats, guaranteed me a job to teach in the Camlachie area. As pressure mounted, with fellow students, towards the end of Normal School (“Will I find a job teaching?)I was quite at ease knowing I faced no employment problem. However, Hiring Day school officials informed Harry that they had no record of an “Al McLean.” They did have a “Fred McLean” but Harry had never heard me called by that name; hence, no job for me until I clarified with Harry my name dilemma.
In 1954, I started teaching at S.S.#9 Plympton Area 2 School. I had 28 pupils in Grades 1-8. At that time the curriculum was based on a small grey book which listed all the subjects to be taught. The teacher had only one textbook for each subject and grade. There were not any textbooks for pupils. Twice a day I wrote in chalk on the blackboards which were at the front and along the east wall. For seat work, I mastered the gellatin hectograph pads and purple lead pencil. Gestetner copies and photocopiers were not in the picture yet.
One of the highlights of small rural schools was the annual Christmas concert. The whole communitywould finally get to judge the teacher’s proficiency. Six weeks before Christmas the pupils started mastering their talents. In November, after recess, morning and afternoon lines were learned, and songs were practised with opportunities for everyone to participate. “Casey at the Bat” would be our masterpiece! Other than arithmetic and oral reading, all class time was devoted to the show. Parents set up a stage over the front platform, and assisted with costumes. It was a real community effort! After three years at S.S. #9, I applied for a teaching position in the city of Sarnia. Mr. Wm Rogers, Director of Education, greeted me with these words, “Your father, Jack McLean, was a wonderful man!” I realised that I had the job. I taught at Rosedale School for three years, followed by two years at High Park School.
In 1959, I applied for a vice-principalship and was assigned to King George VI School. After five years I was appointed principal at Clark School. After one year, I became principal at George Perry School. Little did I relived that it had been selected to have an open plan primary division. I applied for a sabbatical in 1971-72 to study the British Open Plan Concept. With my wife, Marian, and our four children, Jennifer - 13, Joe - 12, Anne - 8 and John - 4, we sailed to England on the “Empress of Canada.” When CP sold all passenger ships, we managed to sail home on the “France” (now the “Norway”).
I served as principal at Mooretown School for nine years. I returned to King George VI School for my last six years, thus ending 37 unforgettable years in education. I sincerely thank all of the pupils, teachers and school staff for helping me along the way. Marian and I are enjoying our 33 years and counting of retirement, and 63 years in our house! When the pandemic ends we hope to continue singing in our church choir and playing bridge/euchre with friends and family.

Jim Cassin B.A., B.Ed.
90 Years and Counting

Lambton County has been home for almost all of my 90 years. I was born and raised in Corunna, which in 1931 boasted a population of about 400. For several years we lived on the bank of the St. Clair River which was a great place for kids, especially for the family of 9 children of which I was the eldest. There was swimming fun particularly on Sundays when American passenger boats (lots of them) would cruise up the channel between Stag Island and Corunna sending out wonderful waves for us to swim through.
In winter there was skating and hockey when the river would ice over from December through mid-February.
My educational journey started in a one room school house with my “Mary Jane and Peter” book in hand. I recall it was published by T. Eaton Co. and cost 4 cents. There were three pupils in grade 1 and perhaps 20 students in the entire school. Much of the work was assigned and we learned quite a bit from each other and in paying attention to what was going on in the higher grades. My desk had a hole in it for an ink well and the well was refilled from a large bottle of ink which stood in the corner of the classroom. In grade three we learned to write with that ink using a pen-nib in a holder. A plaster cast on the teacher’s desk demonstrated the proper way to hold a writing instrument and we had a “writing
practice book” to be used to practice our strokes and “O’s”.
As our family grew in numbers and size, we moved to a farm in the country and attended S.S.#6 Moore which was again a one room school but with larger classes. From grade 7 on I attended a large single grade classroom school, St. Joseph’s Corunna. I remember that our grade 8 graduation class numbered 42 pupils!
High school was St. Pat’s and I was bussed from Corunna for the first time in my school experience. Two large grade 9 classes became a single graduating class by grade 12. It was a time when many students left school at age 16 to enter the job market with a grade 10 Intermediate Certificate. This was just after WWII and there were plenty of jobs for them and even more so for those who stayed on and graduated from Grade 12. I stayed on at school through grade 13, and spent my summers gaining job experience.
For several years I worked on the Canadian Steamship Company’s passenger liner, “Noronic” as a dish washer, then a porter and finally as a bell-boy. This job ended when “Noronic” burned in Toronto Harbour during its last cruise of the season (which I missed) in September 1949, killing at least 118 passengers. Summers after that I found work in steel fabrication and later, on an Imperial Oil tanker.
Following grade 13, I went to the University of Western Ontario, but dropped out before I could finish my degree. In an odd twist of fate, school boards at that time were unable to meet the demands caused by the “Baby Boom” expansion of pupils following WWII and they looked to hire unqualified persons to teach based on “Letters of Permission”. Definitely unqualified, I was hired to teach grades 9&10 at St. Patricia’s in Sarnia. Mandatory summer school courses for teachers such as myself introduced us to lessons in “Pre Printing” and “Reading Readiness” among other topics.
In 1956, now married to Valerie, we moved to London so I could finish my degree. My summers were spent working as a painter on (and under) the Bluewater Bridge, Point Edward. Imagine sitting on a beam, under the bridge with a bucket of aluminum paint and a brush…cars and trucks passing overhead as the steamships and pleasure boats cruised down below! After graduating from UWO I worked at Dow chemical for some time, then in 1960, with Valerie and our three children, I moved to Petrolia and began teaching at the Petrolia District High School. Later, after several summers of taking extra credits to earn my Type A Geography Certificate, I became Head of the Geography Department. Meanwhile, Valerie and I welcomed three more children who, by nature of having been born in Petrolia, are our “Hard Oilers”.
The late 1950’s and early 1960’s saw tremendous changes in Ontario education with the formation of consolidated central elementary schools, mostly in the rural areas, followed by expansion of secondary schools under the “Davis Plan” which introduced “streaming”. One result of the “Davis Plan” was the expansion of central high schools to provide industrial/trade focused shops to be staffed with tradespeople who would then be required to become qualified teachers. This innovation was very successful at L.C.C.V.I. and other composite high schools with many graduates being career-ready and in demand for jobs in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley and beyond.
In 1969, multiple county Boards of Education were reorganized into one Board of Education for each county. I was appointed to be one of two new Vice-Principals at L.C.C.V.I. during a number of administrative realignments in that year. While still brand new in the V.P. position in September 1969 I was asked to be Acting Principal during the illness absence of our Principal. Sadly, our colleague and Principal passed away and I continued to serve as Principal of L.C.C.V.I. until 1980. In this role I had the privilege to work with talented administrators, teachers and support staff in all areas of education. In addition to seeing my own 6 children attend L.C.C.V.I. I was fortunate to know so many wonderful students over the years and I continue to follow their successes with interest and (admittedly) pride for L.C.C.V.I.! In 1980 I was appointed Superintendent of Schools for Lambton County and was fortunate to contribute to education in this position until my retirement in 1992.
As I look back over my 90 years, I can honestly say that life has been good to me. I have had losses which are hard to bear at times, but I still have my faith, my health and an inquisitive mind. I enjoy my long-time friends…some of whom grew up with me and my late wife Valerie in Corunna, and I find comfort in our many memories and common values. Reading good books and sharing ideas with these friends has been an amazing way to continue learning and staying connected especially through these long months of Covid-19 isolation. I remember my 80 th birthday and it doesn’t seem as though it could be 10 years ago already! So many former students, teaching colleagues and friends came to the Sarnia Riding Club and shared in the celebration with me and my family. Though we cannot have a similar event this year, I appreciate the many folks who do stay in touch by phone or drop a line now and then to get caught up on news. We are truly a big family in the world of education! I value the gift of having been given a good education and being able to pass that gift on during my formal years of teaching as well as through my volunteer activities, through mentoring, and in parentingmy own children. I could say that I was born into the role of being an educator by being the eldest of 9 children, an experience that did shape me immensely. A great family and a network of equally great friends have carried me through the good times and the bad on the long road to 90. I literally could not have come this far without them and I can only hope, as I enjoy this milestone birthday and beyond, that
I will be able to continue to give back at least as much as I have received!

Bonnie Lester
Bonnie was born on a farm in Biddulph Township located north of London between Exeter and Lucan.
She attended London Normal school to become a teacher. As a student teacher, she did a lot of practice teaching (unlike in the later years in her opinion). The student teachers went to a school at least one half day a week, driven by taxi. For the 3 full weeks of
practice teaching, the got to observe the first day, and then teach full days, all subjects for the rest of the week.
Upon graduation in 1950, Bonnie was offered a job in Lambton County at SS 15 Moore. Her job included 47 students in grades 1 to 8. Bonnie tells of taking her three grade 8 students to Toronto to observe parliament in action. She contacted the MPP to make some arrangements. The students were especially amazed at the dining car on the train for breakfast and the “strange edges” on the tables. The MPP had said they could join him in the official dining room for lunch, then tour and observe parliament workings. Bonnie vividly remembers that upon entering the official dining room, that it was “like 70 pairs of eyes on her” as if to say “How dare you come in here, let alone with three kids?” It was then that she realized she was the only woman in the room. It had never occured to Bonnie
that there would be no women in parliament. Her father had always told his children that they could grow to be whatever they wanted.
Bonnie eventually achieved her BA from Western in Educatioal Psychology and her Masters of Education in Reading and Mathematics from Wayne State University.
During her carreer, Bonnie took time off to look after her ill mother-in-law, and raised her own son and daughter. During her time off, Bonnie and her husband were active in the building of Central School in Brigden. The school board “tormented” her, until she agreed to go back teaching in Brigden in 1967. One year she had a grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 altogether. She often mentored student teachers in her classroom. Bonnie loved putting on the Christmas Concerts...they were very special to her. Bonnie expressed that it is sad to see that concerts seem to have gone by the wayside. After retiring, Bonnie and her husband spent 10 years travelling including spending 3 months in Australia.
Bonnie was married for 56 years, has one son and one daughter 2 grandsons and 4 great grandchildren.
Bonnie lives in her own home, and these days she does lots of reading.
All the best from RTO to Bonnie on her special birthday!


Beth Vanderhoeden
picture of Beth VanderhoedenBeth was born in the parlour of her family home on the edge of the town of Owen Sound. Her family had gardens and fruit trees. She attended London Normal School in 1948-49. Her aunt lived in London so she had a place to stay when she arrived. Normal School seemed easy after grade thirteen.
Her first teaching job was in a three room school in Tobermory. She taught grades one, two and three. Tobermory in those days gave credence to the expression "there is nothing to do."
Beth says "there was nothing to do" except for house parties with kegs of beer. The school had no phone so Beth had to go to the home of the telephone operator to answer the call for a teacher in Timmins. All calls went through Lions Head. When the job offer came in at $2000 a year the phone operator listening in said, "Get me a job, too!"
In Timmins Beth taught grade one for three years. After the war Timmins had many displaced persons who did not speak English. Beth had no experience with English as a Second Language but she loved teaching the children to speak and to read English. She used pictures, phonetics and extra time at recess to allow the children to catch up to their age mates.
After Timmins Beth moved to Sarnia where she had a friend from Owen Sound. Beth taught at Meadowlea in Sarnia (later Gord Swan’s audio visual centre, then ABC nursery and now supportive housing), spent twelve years at Woodland (now a church) and then at Cathcart for twelve years. She took some time off when she and her husband Hans, from Holland, had five children. Once she was back at work, Hans cooked and looked after the children in the evenings while Beth studied for four years for a degree in psychology. She had to do well as an example to five little kids who were interested in her marks. Then she worked on specialist qualifications in art, physical education, math and science along with developing novel studies lessons. Later she explored her passion for art by attending Buckhorn Art School with a wonderful teacher Edwin Mathews, painting in Newfoundland, taking classes with such artists as Jack Reid and Ariel Lyons and becoming good friends with local artist Kathy Rath.
Travel also called to Beth. She and her husband took bike tours. Their travels included Ireland, Holland, France, Bulgaria, France and Austria. At March Breaks they would go on cruises or island holidays. She visited the Galapagos and Scotland with her mother and her sister. After retirement she and her sister-in-law took a small ice breaker trip to Antarctica.
Her children have lived across Canada so she has seen much of the country visiting them.
Hans lived through the occupation of Holland. He said his life’s goal was to raise good citizens. Beth feels they accomplished this. They raised three children to be high school teachers, one a government worker, and another a forester in Cape Breton.
She feels fortunate to have a grandson, his wife and two dogs living with her during the pandemic. She says, "I enjoy life. I walk and I belong to two books club (well, before the pandemic) and I read all the time."

Miriam Douey at 103Marian E. Douey celebrated 103rd Birthday

Marian Douey grew up in a farm family with six children in the Watford area. She had three brothers and two sisters. Her maiden name was KIDD. She and her sister, Dorothy, were referred to as the “LITTLE KIDDS.”

The older KIDDS with secrets would say, “Don’t tell the LITTLE KIDDS!”

Her grandmother lived in Watford so the KIDD kids would visit her while the parents went shopping on Saturday nights. All the KIDD kids were fortunate to stay with their grandmother while they attended high school because school buses were not available at that time.

She started her teaching career in the country. For two years she taught in Fairbanks School near Alvinston and for one year at Henderson School near Petrolia. She remembers the days when married women didn’t teach.

She and her husband farmed for a short time before moving to Windsor. He was transferred to Sarnia by National Grocers. Marian’s mother-in-law suggested Marian submit her name for supply teaching. At the time Marian and her family were staying with her in-laws while her father-in-law was building a home for them on Cameron Street. One year, Marian’s brother, Victor, the principal of Queen Elizabeth School called her to work on the second day of school. A newly hired teacher never arrived and Marian taught at Queen Elizabeth until the end of June. Her final supply call came to teach at Parkview and she stayed twenty-two years. Her first principal was Morley McGregor. Another one was Howard Coleman who had been Colonel Coleman in the army.

Marian and her husband raised three children. Now she has five grandchildren including nineteen year old twins. Her great grandchildren, aged twelve, ten and eight, each wrote a lovely letter to her in celebration of her 100th years. A granddaughter prepared a video of Marian’s 100 years. Her two year old great grandson loved Marian’s birthday balloons. He has a great sense of where to find the biscuits at Marian’s and he does not forget! He has a new baby brother who is 100 years and a few days younger than Marian! She is grateful to her family for their support and assistance.

Marian reads the London Free Press everyday and does the puzzles. She also enjoys jig saws. These seem to be common COVID activities this year.

RTO celebrated Marian Douey 100th birthday by delivering flowers, balloons and “a party in a bag.” Also delivered to Marian was her RTO birthday certificate prepared by Kathy (Doan) Bandla. Marian taught at Parkview when the five lovely Doan sisters attended that school.
For her 90th birthday Marian was feted at Patterson Presbyterian. This time during COVID19 the party was much smaller however RTO sends “big” birthday wishes for Marian’s special year!

Sara (Sally) Townsend

Sally grew up in Sarnia until high school, when she moved to the river at Courtright. She was named "Sara" after her grandmother. When she was in Grade Seven children teased her about her old fashioned name so she changed it to "Sally." Now only her elementary school friend calls her "Sara." All her teaching colleagues remember "Sally." What fun for pupils of the fifties era "Dick, Jane and Baby Sally" preprimers to know a teacher named "Sally." She began her teaching career withthe Moore Township Board. Unlike today’s young teachers she was asked "what do you want to teach" and "where do you want to teach." She had many, many choices. The board was very good to its teachers. They were given anything and everything that they requested. Her first teaching assignment was in kindergarten at Courtright. At the time Moore did not have a special education program. She was asked to go to Colborne Street School in Corunna to set up that program. After two years she began teaching Remedial Reading in five schools including Lochiel, Lansdowne and Queen Elizabeth in Sarnia. Her last years before retirement were spent in the primary grades at Murray Street School in Corunna. Because she still lives in Corunna, Sally often meets her old (as in former) kids (as in students), and their parents. The cleaner and paper person in her building are former Grade Two and Three students. Reconnecting brings back great memories as Sally loved teaching and spent lots of extra hours on the job.
Sally has four children, two retired teachers and two Polysar employees. She has six grandchildren with four being teachers. Some family members even married teachers. She also has eight great grandchildren.
Her advice is, "Stick to it, don’t ever give up." She feels young teachers today have more challenges than she had. Sally likes to keep busy. She enjoys reading, knitting and doing puzzles. These have all been good pandemic activities along with her quilting.
Best wishes to Sally and to all members of District 38 as birthdays are celebrated in new ways, during the unusual years of 2020 and 2021.
Hopefully, as Sally has done, everyone has found entertaining ways to enjoy these unique times.

Donna McQuillin
Donna McQuillin was born in Kincardine and was raised with her one  brother. Their parents both worked in Malcolms Factory which made the famous mosquito bomber airplanes. Her father worked in the lumber yard at Malcolms. Her mom worked at the factory during the war. Donna attended public school in Millarton, a tiny place about two miles outside of Kincardine on Highway 9. She attended high school in Kincardine.
In 1950, teachers were scarce so immediately after high school she began teaching in a one room school. She went to teachers colleger in Toronto for two summers to become qualified. Donna always wanted to be a teacher. Even as a small child at home she would go upstairs alone and "teach" her classes.
One of her stories happened while teaching in a brand new school in Bruce county. The school inspector paid a visit to check out the new school. It was winter. He had his coat on and was ready to leave but asked, "Where is my hat?" Donna was saved from telling him when he realized his hat was in his hand!
Donna taught in four schools in Bruce County before moving to Sarnia in 1953. By then she had married her truck driver husband. He wanted a change from Ripley to either Toronto or Sarnia. Although Donna thought that nobody goes to either place, they moved to Sarnia. They had two children, a girl and a boy.
In Sarnia, Donna taught for eight years at Queen Elizabeth, two years at Lakeroad and at Hannna at the end of her teaching career. After teaching she managed a wine store in Lambton Mall for about seven years. Donna says, "Retirement is a good job to have and I have enjoyed it all!"
She feels fortunate to have her daughter and and her two grown children in London. Donna enjoys living in her apartment near Centennial Park and driving her car for shopping and errands.
RTO sends greetings for Donna’s special birthday!

Helen Cassidy at 95Helen Cassidy
Helen was born and raised in the mining town, owned by Inco, called Copper Cliff. It is now part of Sudbury. Helen was one of eleven children in a French Canadian family. Her parents spoke French and so did she until she went to elementary school. Although Sudbury at the time was populated by forty percent French, Copper Cliff was predominantly English speaking, so she and her siblings thought speaking French was not cool. She attended high school in Copper Cliff. In 1947 she left home to attend the University of Toronto. She took a general arts degree at the time called Pass Arts. This course was intended to provide a well rounded education with a smattering of many different disciplines. She then attended teachers’ college at OCE and was ready to teach French and Physical Education in Sudbury. While she was teaching there, Clem Cassidy came on staff. Clem had taught in Sarnia and wanted to return. The draw for him was the Polysar Glee Club. They married in 1954 and came to Sarnia when Northern Collegiate was opening. Clem taught vocal music and English at Northern and was director of the Polysar Glee Club for some years.

Helen taught at Petrolia High School before giving birth to three daughters. In those days mothers resigned from the labour force and stayed at home with their babies. When their youngest daughter was in grade seven or eight, Helen went back to work as a supply teacher. Returning to teaching was eye opening. Previously, students raised their hands to answer a question and when one was recognized by the teacher, that student would stand up and answer the question. The classroom was a formal place. When Helen returned to teaching, discussions were open, no subject was private and language was colourful. In addition to supply work she continued to utilize her teaching skills by teaching night school at SCITS twice a week. She taught gym classes (Slim and Trim) and volleyball for many years. The facilities at SCITS allowed the adults to use the swimming pool, too.  Helen was also involved with Girl Guides at Sacred Heart Church.

Today, Helen plays bridge and more bridge. She enjoys duplicate bridge at the Sardo Club, formerly St. Peter’s Church. She feels blessed to be able to attend numerous community activities including the programs at the Art Gallery, films with CineSarnia and Live at the Met opera at the local theatre. Recently she celebrated her birthday in Toronto with her three daughters, nine grandchildren, partners and one little great grandson who now has a new baby sister. Two of Helen’s daughters are engineers and one followed her parents into teaching.

Best Wishes, Helen!

Fran Lewis
Fran is a life long Sarnian. She was born and raised here with three older sisters and a younger brother. Her sister June Bannister is also an RTO member. Fran attended a number of elementary schools including Confederation Street and Wellington Street. She then attended SCITS for high school where she later taught for her entire career.

After finishing high school Fran worked at Polymer in the gas lab for a year in order to save money to attend university at Western. Then she was back at SCITS to teach English and French.

Fran embraces her family of a son who lives in British Columbia , a daughter and a son in law who live north of Toronto as well as their two lovely daughters.

Vera Johnston
Vera Johnston has been a Lambton County girl from the beginning. She was born on a farm on the 8th Line of Moore (now Rokeby Line) and Brigden Road. She grew up with a brother who later farmed and was also a bulk carrier truck driver.
After Grade Thirteen in 1949 Vera was in the last class attending London Normal School.  After that a new Teachers’ College was built. One year at Normal School qualified Vera to teach up to Grade Ten. Her friend Shirley (Shaw) Johnson, also an Lambton girl, was at Normal School with Vera. Both girls were hired the same weekend to teach near Highway 21 (now Oil Heritage Road) near Wyoming. Vera’s school was on the townline of Plymton and Enniskillen and was identified as SS 2 and 24 Plymton and Enniskillen (later Sunbeam School.) Vera married a Lambton farmer whose farm was near the school. She and her husband raised three children, a son and two daughters. While her children were young she did some supply teaching in rural schools. In 1959 teachers were difficult to find. Vera was asked to teach at Kertch school on London Road, a one room school with thirty to thirty-five students. With a one year old at home Vera did not think she could do that but a school board member convinced her to supply teach for a month while his wife babysat! For two years she covered maternity leaves at Oban School on London Road West. For three years she was principal’s relief for three half days a week. Then she taught Grades Five and Six for ten years in Wyoming.
In 1979 the Johnstons bought a place in Zephr Hills, Florida. They actually bought the land their winter home would sit on. Buying a home where he did not own the land did not sit well with a farmer! Vera enjoyed the snowbird lifestyle for fifteen years.  In Wyoming she lived for a number of years in the Royaleigh apartments and moved to a Petrolia retirement home this past year. Still a Lambton girl, on the day of the RTO Goodwill visit, Vera was driving some of her fellow residents around the area to see the local changes.
Vera has six granddaughters and one grandson with two teachers among them.


Maria (Chris) Wolff

Chris Wolff was born and raised in the Dutch East Indies, a Dutch colony, now known as The Republic of Indonesia. After World War II and after Indonesia's independence in 1948 all nonnative people had to repatriate to their countries of origin. Chris and her mother went to her mother’s country of birth, The Netherlands. There, Chris trained as a secretary and worked as such until she left for Canada. She first went to Mount Clements, Michigan, where she had relatives.

Her husband-to-be had left the Netherlands earlier and had secured a job with the Ontario Research Foundation. He was stationed in Sarnia. They married in 1957 and had two boys. About ten or twelve years later the government offered re-education to individuals interested in becoming French teachers. Chris decided to give the program a try after taking grade thirteen at Northern Collegiate. The boys were responsible and fairly independent by this time. After receiving her diploma in teaching Chris worked for the Lambton County Roman Catholic School Board. She began her career as an itinerant French teacher in various locations such as St. Benedict, St. Joseph, St. Margaret and St. Peter schools. 
Later, when the number of classes warranted a full time teacher she became part of the permanent staff at St Helen School for twelve years. Her last school was Gregory A. Hogan from where she retired in 1987.

Chris' two sons became engineers. One works for Hydro at the Bruce Generating Station and and other works in the United States for MFF (Manufacturer of Flavors and Fragrances

Frances McLean
Fran was born in Blenheim. She grew up in a family of two girls and three boys. Her father was a local merchant. Her childhood included many happy summers at the family cottage on the main street into Erieau.
Fran received her BA from Western and her MA from Windsor. She describes teacher education at the time as creating “eight week wonders.” Young teachers would attend summer school for two summers unlike today when they study for two years following their undergraduate degrees.
Fran’s first year of teaching job was at the Ontario Ladies College, in Whitby. She went there directly after graduating with the BA from Western. Teacher training was not required in that private school. Teachers lived in the same hall as the students and were required to chaperone the girls wherever they wished to go, which could be to church or to the movies. Classes were small with as few as six students in a math class. Fran’s largest class size was thirteen. She taught grade twelve and thirteen and was glad that all her students were able to pass the provincial departmental examinations.
Whitby was followed by teaching science and chemistry for two years in Windsor and four years in Glencoe. In 1965 Fran moved to Sarnia where she taught math for eleven years at Central. In 1976 she was assigned to the Lambton board office where she worked as Stan Pate’s assistant for three years. After that she was happy to be back in the schools where she spent three years in each of three schools. She was a vice principal at Northern and at St. Clair then ended her career in 1988 as principal at Watford. She jokes that one should retire early enough to “get all the money out of the pension” that one puts in.
Fran’s is proud of her two daughters who both have PhDs. She teases that she told them she wanted two doctors but was thinking of another kind. One daughter lives in Ottawa and has a consulting business. She graduated in psychology. The other daughter lives in Connecticut. She is a professor at a university there. Fran also has two grandsons, two great granddaughters and one great grandson.
In the early days of her retirement Fran had many opportunities to travel. Those travels included Venezuela, New Zealand, Norway and Spain. She travelled often to a Spanish villa and spent parts of five winters there.
Today, she has a beautiful suite that overlooks the St. Clair River.
Best Wishes, Fran!




After teaching in Windsor, Erleine worked at CPRI in London, before coming to Lambton as principal of New Hope. She and St. Clair principal, Phil Brown, coordinated the move of New Hope students to the high school. Then until retirement Erleine was principal at Aberarder.   
Erleine and her husband spent many winter holidays in New Symatra, Florida. About twenty-four years ago a group of Ontario teachers purchased the condo-hotel, Ocean Trillium, in the sunny south.

Best Wishes!




June Banister is a life long Sarnia resident. She grew up in Sarnia’s south end as one of five children. She attended Confederation Street School, now the Armoury, and Johnston Memorial School.
After spending years at home with her children June commuted with a Sarnia group to teachers’ college in London. After a few months of supply work June was hired in January of the next year to teach home economics at Central for a semester before going to Alexander McKenzie. Later she taught at LCCVI in Petrolia. Retirement came after seventeen years of teaching.
June and her husband Bob raised three children, a daughter and two sons. When Bannisters moved to their north end home in 1952, "Woodland" was truly woods from Colbourne to Coral Way. Instead of streets and homes the neighbourhood had sand hills and orchards.
June and one son are "on the cutting edge" for sending solar energy to the grid. Ask June sometime about squirrels and solar panels!
June does have visual impairment and does have suggestions for resources for others in similar circumstances. CNIB sends a represntative from London one day a week to Bayside Mall. CNIB will provide a "DAISY Reader" which holds a dozen books that can be downloaded using WiFi. The Ontario Government covers part of the costs. June also says the Mallroad Library staff is helpful in providing audio books.
When one son and a granddaughter lived in Singapore June made a couple of visits and learned to love the "high rise" city. She travelled around the city on the subway and enjoyed the sights and activities..
June’s travels this year have taken her to the west coast to visit two of her children, two of her three grandchildren and her two great grandchildren. After seven weeks in the west she thought winter weather would be over here. We fooled her!
Currently, in addition to knitting, she is making good use of her new touch screen computer and loves her ipad. It is a wonderful tool for keeping in touch with her western relatives.
Happy Birthday from RTO!!


Julius Szabo
Picture Of Julius SzaboJulius was born in Oradea, Romania but of Hungarian descent. He, his wife Judith (Judy) and their six year old daughter immigrated to Canada in December of 1969. They came via Italy from communist Romania. After waiting five years to leave Romania, Judy’s Jewish sounding surname provided them with an opportunity to depart. They chose Canada where Julius had three uncles who were tobacco farmers in Delhi. By February of 1970 Judy and Julius were in English as a Second Language classes. 

Although Szabos spoke an number of languages, English was not one of them. By September of that year at the age of forty-two Julius was 
attending Western University in London for teacher training.

Fortunately, Julius’ education in Romania was recognized by Western so the next year found him teaching in Barry’s Bay. After a year back in London working in tobacco Julius returned to teaching. This time he went to Thornhill to teach geography and economics in York District High School. He taught there for about eighteen years while Judy worked as a secretary in the same school for twenty-six years. Julius retired in 1988 but continued to supply teach in Thornhill and later in Exeter.

For twenty-five years Julius worked with the Hungarian community in Toronto by teaching and participating in their travelling theatrical 
group. The group performed for many Hungarian communities in many locations including Norway, Sweden, Italy, France, Florida and Vancouver.

Since they had lived in London for a couple of years they knew Grand Bend and loved it. In 1983 they bought a piece of property near the 
theatre and eventually built a cute cottage and then a retirement home.

Julius loved to learn and while teaching he earned a masters degree from York University. He also enjoyed sports such as skiing, tennis and boxing. The family often spent Christmas break skiing in Europe. Recently their daughter and her husband moved to Markdale near a ski hill. Both Judy and Julius did cross country skiing behind their home in Aurora. Into his eighties Julian walked six miles a day. At one time, three times a week he would walk the twelve miles of trails in Exeter. 
Now television sports especially tennis are favourites, as well as their two and a half acres of mostly beautiful flower gardens. When Szabos married, Julius was a good cook and baker. He taught his young wife and now she is the family cook. One of her wonderful specialties is Hungarian coffee cake made with apples and gooseberries picked by Julius!

The Szabos have two granddaughters.


Poinsettias have been delivered to the shut-in members of our district.               Pictures from some visits.



The Goodwill Committee will be including a business card inside each birthday card for those turning 80.  This card has contact names, telephone numbers and email addresses for all our committee members.  These cards will also be available at the First Friday Brunch, Executive meetings, the General meetings in December and June, or by request.
Please contact a committee member when sending a card would be appropriate for you or another RTO member.  (e.g. special anniversary, illness, marriage, hospitalization, thinking of you, death of a family member, special milestone-becoming a first-time grandparent, etc.) 


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Christmas Banquet 2023

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For a list of Members who have recently passed away (click here):

So that this information can be kept up to date please call Linda Smith (519) 882-2764; jturvey@mnsi.net or contact any member on the Goodwill Committee to keep us informed about member's birthdays, first time grandparents, milestone anniversaries, members in need of a visit or a call, illnesses, hospital stays, in the news for special accomplishments, and moving to retirement or nursing homes.

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