Louisa Kathleen (Lou) passed away at Mission Memorial Hospital on November 7, 2006, in the presence of her immediate family. She was predeceased by her older sisters Gwen and Vi, her older brother Bert, and her eldest son Wayne in 1986. She is survived by her loving husband Ernie; sons Glenn (Marlyne) and James (Fran); daughter-in-law Lorraine (Brian Wensley); granddaughters Sonya, Kimberley and Jennifer; and Sonya’s three children, great-grandsons Eddie and Jake (all skates and hockey sticks!) and – the most recent arrival – amazing little Grace.
Mom was born Louisa Kathleen Johnson in the Borough of Chelsea, London, England, in 1922, the youngest child of Ted Johnson and Annie Fox. She schooled there, excelling in gymnastics and was an avid cyclist. She lost her mother early in life and, at the age of 14, entered training as a shopkeeper’s assistant. When war came, she remained in London and, with her family and so many others, suffered stoically through the Blitz. Stories of bombed out homes and shrapnel rattling off brick buildings during air raids give one a glimpse of what her young world was like. She later joined the NAAFI, a group which provided support services to the military including assisting and serving in canteens. While serving in a canteen in Aldershot in October, 1942, she met a painfully shy young Canadian soldier, Ernie Lathrop, who garnered the courage to ask her to a movie despite being told by his army buddies that he “didn’t have a chance”. She accepted, the movie was Gone With The Wind, and the rest is now family history. They married on July 10, 1943, and Dad went off to Normandy on D-Day as a dispatch rider. Following Dad’s return and the war’s end, Mom embarked to Canada on the Aquitania with hundreds of her fellow war brides – Dad had been shipped home earlier with the Canadian Army. A long ocean voyage, followed by a long train voyage, found her arriving alone in Kelvington, Saskatchewan, met by her husband (whom she saw for the first time in civvies!) and moving into a two-room shack on the farm. (Later they moved to the “big” house – it had three rooms).
Hardships followed. A son, Brian, died in infancy, and the late 40s weather did not bring good crops. Following the arrival of Wayne (1948) and Glenn (1949), they moved to BC in 1954 and Âsettled in Mission. James arrived in 1958. In 1970, Mom returned to her original trade at Eaton’s in Mission. By the time she retired in 1987 from Eaton’s Sevenoaks, she was the most “decorated” sales assistant in the store. That early training paid off! She was active in the Women’s Auxiliary, St. Peters Mancroft (Anglican) church in Hatzic, and later became an active member of the War Brides Association.
Mother was a memorable person in so many ways, known for her outspoken personality but equally known to be the first to step in when help was needed. Helping others was second nature to her, whether visiting and doing housework for a mother dying of cancer then returning to care for her own family, or calming an irate customer by giving that extra measure of help that earned her so many thank you notes from customers to the store management. The bond formed between her and her granddaughter Sonya, when together they lost a son and a father with Wayne’s passing in 1986, was especially heartwarming. She was never judgemental of her family, though I know we often gave her reason to be, and was always supportive. Unstintingly proper and demanding, her constant admonition that “…. you won’t go wrong if you tell the truth …” still rings in our ears. Mom was the heart and soul of her all-important family, and she will be missed, painfully so.
Special thanks go out to Lorraine’s husband, Brian Wensley, and Sonya’s husband Graham, who combined under difficult circumstances and on short notice to deliver Lorraine and Sonya to the coast in time to be with their Mom-in-law and Grandma.
A Funeral Service will be held at Woodlawn Mission Funeral Home on Tuesday, November 14, 2006 at 1:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Lou to the Heart and Stroke Foundation would be appreciated.
Arrangements entrusted to Woodlawn Mission Funeral Home