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Paying it back with kindness
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Paying it back with kindness

Claire Parsons' life shows clearly that when you help someone, your generosity can come back to help you.

Claire, who died on March 2, was born on Nov. 14, 1924, on a farm near Coalhurst, Alta., the fifth of 10 children for Norwegian immigrants Gabriel and Kirsten Odland.

As a teen, drought forced her and her siblings to leave the farm. Claire at first began working at a bakery in Lethbridge, but a couple she met, Wolfe and Goodie Johnson, wanted her to stay with them.

The Johnsons showed Claire kindness and treated her like a daughter. They trained Claire to do the door-to-door ministry of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and she became a full-time minister with the local congregation.

For six years, Claire spread the Bible’s Kingdom message full time, until she met Ernest Parsons in 1945. He saw cyclists carrying Bibles, and that’s when he met the woman who would become his wife in 1946.

Ernest worked for the Fuller Brush company which, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, went door-to-door. He rose to become the regional manager for Western Canada, and the couple eventually settled in Winnipeg in 1972 in the North End.

Here, Claire’s family remembers her doing her door-to-door ministry in the area. “Most every household expected her visit, greeted her by name, she taught them about the Bible and its Kingdom message and gave them Bible literature.”

Claire discovered that Goodie Johnson had died, but Wolfe was still very much alive, living in Winnipeg and in his 90s. And that’s when she was able to pay back the couple’s kindness to her: Claire regularly went to his house to clean and visit with him.

As the family says, that’s when they discovered, “Wolfe and Goodie were like parents to mom and how important it was for mom that she care for his needs.”

Claire is survived by four children, 10 grandchildren, an unspecified number of great-grandchildren, and a sister. Read more about Claire. 

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason, Reporter

Kevin Rollason

How They Lived

Marg Hewitt brought fun to the Legislature.

Marg, who was 96 when she died on March 3, was a graduate of Success Business College and worked as a vacation relief secretary until she started her family.

After having three children, she returned to work and was hired by the provincial government in 1961.

She worked in the legislative building and was known not only for her office management skills, but for the joy she brought to the workplace.

One example: she roller-skated through the hallways while wearing a Santa suit at Christmas. After retiring, Marg served on the Highway Traffic Board until 1997. Read more about Marg. 



Barry Antonius was a self taught sailor and loved being on the water.

Barry, who died on Feb. 26, went from captaining a styrofoam dinghy to sailing 65-foot monohulls and catamarans on Lake Winnipeg as well as in the Caribbean.

He was also commodore of the Redboine Boat Club near Churchill High School. Read more about Barry. 



Alice Mark shows it is never too late to go back to school.

Alice, who was 101 when she died on Feb. 25, was an honour student at school, and also an accomplished seamstress who made many of her own clothes.

She taught sewing classes, but regretted not going to university. So she went back, first getting her Grade 12, then her teaching certificate, and worked 18 years with the Winnipeg School Division.

Alice continued her studies even while teaching full time, and eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba. Read more about Alice. 


Golfers celebrate when they get a hole in one — Stewart Adkins celebrated more times than most.

Stewart, who died on Feb. 18, picked up golf while serving in the military and later became a longtime member of Bel Acres Golf and Country Club.

Just how many aces did he get? An amazing five in total. Read more about Stewart. 



Sandy Dunsmore worked for Eaton’s and Air Canada and after retiring she became known in the ceramics community.

Sandy, who died on Feb. 26 at 89, also volunteered with the Royal Canadian Legion No. 141’s Ladies Auxiliary and served as the branch’s sergeant at arms and a regional president.

She also worked as a dorm dean, and then the campground hostess, at the International Peace Gardens. Read more about Sandy. 



John Clearwater was the country’s leading nuclear weapons expert.

John, who was born in Winnipeg in 1966, got his PhD in the War Studies Department of King's College London under the tutelage of Sir Lawrence Freedman with his thesis “The Birth of Strategic Arms Control,” which he later turned into a university textbook.

He published four books on nuclear weapons — two of which became television documentaries — and was the editor in chief of the journal Arms Control Reporter published in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

His federal study for the Minister of National Defence on Canadian troops exposed to radiation during nuclear weapons testing resulted in thousands of soldiers getting ex gratia payments. He was honoured with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal for his work against nuclear weapons and for veterans. Read more about John. 



A Life’s Story

Evie Moroz was the Tyndall Tornado.

That’s because a few decades ago, as Evie Wawryshyn, she was a star player with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1946 to 1951.

Moroz in the uniform of the Fort Wayne Daisies of Indiana of the All American Girls Baseball League (Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame & Museum)

“In her worst season, she stole 66 bases,” her longtime friend, Gladwyn Scott told writer Geoff Kirbyson recently.

“She could run like the bloody wind. She’s one of Manitoba’s greatest athletes. Ever.”

Evie, who died last month at the age of 97, was featured in our latest A Life’s Story feature in the Free Press’ Passages section. You can read more about her here. 



Until next time, I hope you continue to write your own life’s story.



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