Obituary of Shirley Jorgenson
Hi everyone. Mom, being the caring person she was, wrote her life history, we believe to make the task of
preparing for her funeral just a little bit easier. Below is a slightly edited version of what she wrote about
I, Edith Shirley Margaret Hewitt, was born on July 10, 1931 at Loverna, Saskatchewan, with no doctor on
duty, just Nurse Lawson. I was the third daughter of Charles and Edith Hewitt, 10 years after Aileen and fiveyears after Dorothy.
Being a youngster during the 30’s, I didn’t feel our life was difficult, but grew up aware of the tough years of
drought, heat, grasshoppers and poor prices for both livestock and grain. We had eight years without rain.
There were so many people that moved away, but Dad chose to stay. I can remember relief food being
shipped in on the train.
I learned to gather eggs and milk cows at an early age. I remember separating cream, making cottage
cheese, butter, cheese and ice cream in the winter. I also remember making porridge – it was a family
event! Us kids would put the seed in the colander and hand pick out the weed seeds and other bad stuff.
Dad would grind the wheat in his chopper and we’d fill two five-gallon pails, enough to use for the winter.
When it was cold out, my parents had to take turns staying up at night, to keep the stove burning. We had
no insulation in the house and the stove was the only heat we had (the floors were always so cold). We had
a bath once a week on Saturday night – using the same bath water, youngest to oldest. It was a special
night. After our bath, Mom would read a book to us and we listened to a one-hour radio show called Luxe
Radio Theatre. In the war years, we had to be quiet when Dad’s radio show came on.
I had to walk a mile to Coe School (half way between Esther and New Brigden). I had a good saddle horse,
but my parents thought it was better for me to walk. The Westerlund boys had three miles to get to school
so they rode horses. Sometimes they would stop on their way and say “hop on!” and would take me the
rest of the way to school. I took up to Grade nine at the school and took grades ten and eleven by
correspondence plus one Grade 12 course, with the help of Miss MacArthur (Aunt Wyn to all of us). My
teachers were Miss Byler, Miss Hatson, Miss Gowland, Miss Patterson and Miss Coates. The school was our entertainment centre, with picnics, ball games and dances (music was Bill Code, guitar and Ernie Traleck on the violin). In the summer there would be Sunday school and church held in the school nearly every week. Maxine Heatherington (married Lloyd Westerlund) spent many hours at my house as a young girl, and we did a lot of horseback riding.
I loved playing softball (I was the catcher) and each school would have a team. A big day for me, was
getting the team and wagon to take the whole school (and the teacher!) to Wenger Heights school for a ball
game. When I wasn’t at school, I enjoyed doing all of the farm work with Dad, especially if it was on a
horse. I got interested in horses because of my Dad. He had eight horse outfits for working in the fields and
at one time had about thirty colts to be broke. I rode all the workhorses (after hitching them up by myself)
and would work on the combine for twelve hours a day. One year I bought a saddle from the Eaton’s
catalogue for $65.00 – a full year of wages working for my Dad. I ended up with my own horse, Brownie
and a dog named Baldy.
I got my Driver’s License at age 16 and drove the District Health Nurse to all the country schools for
vaccinations. When I was 17, there was a Polio epidemic, and I became really sick with it - two of my
friends died. I spent three months in the University Hospital in Edmonton and felt very, very fortunate to be
able to come back home and learn to walk again and live a normal life!! I attended Nursing Aid school at
Calgary the following year but was unable to finish because of the after effects of polio.
I met Burt when he was teaching school in New Brigden, and that was the start of our courtship. We were
married October 20th, 1950 in Oyen, having a double wedding with my sister Dorothy and John Hoffmann.
We had six kids: Gary on Aug 28, 1951 / Irvine – June 19, 1953 / Joyce – November 28, 1956 / Lloyd -September 21, 1959 / Joanne – October 5, 1961 / Karen – May 14, 1964. (Our entire family now in July 2023, including spouses, is 101).
Once we were married, I had to learn how to cook!! I didn’t know a thing because I had spent all my
growing up years outside helping my Dad. It was interesting at times!! I also learned how to play the drums
and became part of the band called “The J’s”. We played for so many dances over the years, and when the
kids were small and we were playing close to home, sometimes the younger kids were lined up across the
back of the stage in sleeping bags until the dance was over. I really enjoyed curling and getting together
with the ladies for bonspiels. My favorite past times were gardening and starting all my own flowers (I had
one garden for potatoes - about 1000 hills and another one for all the other vegetables). I also enjoyed yard
work, baking, helping with community activities and helping with the field work and cattle. Our three
daughters took care of meals when I was out in the field, and I liked to tell them “It was that experience
that made them such good cooks”! The boys were also out driving trucks, tractors, and all the other
equipment, at a very young age.
As our kids got older, they all enjoyed the 4-H Beef Club, hockey, ball, curling, school sports, piano lessons,
and the older kids – the Oyen Community band. We often had two vehicles going different directions
getting the six kids to all their activities.
My whole life changed October 27th, 2003 when Burt passed away suddenly in a tragic farm accident, doing
what he loved to do – working with his family. I stayed on the farm until January 2011, when I moved into
the Oyen Seniors Lodge. It was very hard leaving the farm that I loved so much, but I know I’m better here
with both of my “old” friends (Myrtle Heatherington and Betty Beynon) and many “new” ones!! The Lodge
is now my home. We have comfortable suites, good meals, entertainment and an excellent staff caring for
Here ends the shorter version of all that Mom wrote.
Some things that Mom would never write about, but we feel she so much deserves to be recognized for,
was how many times she would feed and entertain hundreds of people in her house over the 61 years that
she was on the farm!!! Customers, salesmen, overseas visitors, riggers, Hiway 41 construction workers,
employees and most importantly – friends and family!!!! She could whip up a meal for unexpected guests
in a heartbeat. Maybe taken for granted at the time, but so much appreciated, was the mid-morning coffee
and baking she would send to the pig barn every day, as well as for coffee guests in the house, the TGIF
gatherings that no one wanted to miss, and the Sunday brunches. She often talked about cooking up 2
pounds of bacon the night before (SLOW cooked bacon of course), so she wasn’t so rushed in the morning.
As busy as she was, she was organized!!!
Due to health issues, Mom moved to Long Term Care care at the Oyen Hospital in March of 2021. Soon
after moving, she broke a hip which left her wheelchair bound, but this did not dampen her spirits!!! Mom
LOVED having visitors and occasionally getting out for small excursions to different family’s homes and
events. She enjoyed all the activities provided to her at long term care and spent many hours colouring and
doing beautiful art projects and paintings (to her kids’ surprise, we had no idea of her artistic talent until
she was 90 years old). The family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the wonderful staff of Big
Country Hospital Long Term Care for the love and dedication they showed our Mom.
Three weeks prior to her passing, Mom very much enjoyed attending the 70th Anniversary celebration for
Ralph and Marvel, visiting with so many neighbors from New Bridgen and surrounding areas, as well as
many relatives and friends she hadn’t seen in years. Near the end of the evening, she was even seen chair
dancing to the live music and didn’t get back “home” until after midnight. She lived a long, fulfilling life and
always looked at the positive side of any challenge, often sharing her huge smile and love for others.
Rest in peace our dear Mom!!
The recording is now posted. It is in 2 videos due to a technical glitch. If you are watching on a mobile device or a tablet, you may need to turn your device sideways to view the recordings.