Iowna Fraser (Campbell)
Peacefully with family by her side, Iowna Meryl Fraser passed away at her Fairview home on July 5, 2018. Iowna was born October 9, 1918 and lived most of her life on the land homesteaded by her grandfather in the RM of Elton. The farm home that she loved so dearly was located between Chater, Douglas, Justice, Forrest, and Brandon and she proudly called all of these districts “home” for over 99 years. A dedicated daughter, teacher, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend, Iowna devoted countless hours to helping others and she was in a leader in all that she did. Iowna was predeceased by her parents: John and Winnifred Campbell, her husband of 50 years, Campbell Fraser, and her son-in-law Rick Barry. Left to cherish her memory are her family who were the focus of her life: Marilyn Barry of Calgary, Judy (Doug) Marvin of RR 5, Brandon, Meryl Fraser of Brandon; her beloved grand-children: Derek (Brittany Hilton) Marvin of Winnipeg, Kristy (Mark) Agnew of Forrest, Jeremy Marvin, who resides in the “Campbell - Fraser “ farm home; and great grandchildren: Beau Hilton Marvin, Mila Agnew, and Elliott ‘Ellie’ Agnew.
And now, the rest of the story. Optional reading for those who care to hear the details
Iowna Meryl Fraser (nee Campbell) was born in the RM of Elton on October 9, 1918 to parents John and Winnifred Campbell. Iowna attended Campbell School for her early years and developed many lifelong friendships there that endured through the years. The one room school was comprised mostly of children with the name Andrews, Black, Wytons, and one “Campbell.” Mom spoke of walking about 2 miles to Campbell School, sometimes along by the creek to shorten the walk. On really cold days, her dad would take her using the horse drawn cutter or stone boat. Saturday was usually spent going to Brandon for supplies by horse & buggy and later a car. She fondly told us that she “grew up” in Mutter’s General Store on Rosser., and Mutter's was the family meeting place at 11 pm. Iowna obtained Grade 11 at Brandon Collegiate, and Grade 12 at Brandon College, boarding with family friends, followed by Normal School, graduating in 1940. Her classmates became close friends who had regular reunions until about their 70th year after graduation. Iowna spearheaded the reunions and sent reports out to members who couldn't come.
After becoming a teacher, Iowna took the "long train ride” to Gregg MB (NE of Carberry) where she taught grades 1-8 in “Dempsey”, a one room school. She boarded with the MacFarlane family and developed lifelong friendships in the district. Even in her 90s she would drive out to Carberry Fair or to special service at Kerfoot Church to see old friends. In her first year of teaching, she led the school choir to victory at the Brandon Festival winning the Christie Cup. Coincidently, she had won the same trophy as a student 10 years before at Campbell School! Years later, Mom was able to locate her former teacher and choir leader, Mary Highfield, later Collins (who was nearly 100 at the time) in the Boissevain area. Soon after, she and some of her Andrews family classmates went to Boissevain for a visit and "photo op” with their former teacher and the Cup
Before taking teaching jobs at one of 3 Brandon Schools (Alexandra, Fleming and King George), Iowna took time off to help her parents at home and on the farm. During World War II, the Canadian military took over some of the Campbell farm land to construct a training airport. Her parents "took in" the construction crew at their home and served them 3 meals a day. Iowna recalls her mother saying that this service was “their part of the war effort.” Mom often spoke of long days preparing their food and maintaining their rooms while the runways and hangar were built. Iowna was proud to be the first person to drive on the new asphalted runways when they were completed. Little did she know that 75 year later, her grandson Jeremy would be "driving" various farm vehicles down those runways several times a day
Church was an important part of Iowna's life; she valued the traditions of church and faith. Iowna grew up attending Sparling Church and was passionate about her own “Church in the Wildwood”. When there was talk of closing it, Iowna stepped forward offering to do the cleaning, to light the furnace before church, play the organ or piano and occasionally, she even lead the service when the minister couldn’t come. Despite her efforts, the church closed in the 40’s and was moved to Virden; sometimes, many years later, she sometimes drove there with a carload of family or friends to attend special services.
In 1937, Campbell Fraser of the Justice district asked Iowna to attend the Coronation Ball in Brandon. They dated off and on for over 12 years attending dances all over south west MB until Cam finally ‘asked the question’. They were married November 25th 1950 at the Church Manse in Forrest. They had scheduled the wedding for October but the harvest was delayed and so the wedding had to wait!! After a small ceremony, they began their marriage of 50 years initially living on the Fraser farm with Cam’s brother Lorne, his wife Helen and eventually their two boys, Cliffe and Craig.
In 1959, they moved to Iowna’s family farm at NE 7-11-17 which had been homesteaded by her grandfather Angus Campbell in 1882. They actively farmed until Judy’s husband Doug, who had bought an adjacent farm, assumed the duties. Iowna was always an enthusiastic farm woman who helped maneuver horse drawn ploughs, and later tractors and trucks as the need arose. However, her primary farm tasks revolved around preparing and delivering meals for everyone involved and diligently recording the daily markets as reported at noon on “1150” radio or 880. Iowna gave up teaching after marrying but continued as Baby Band Leader in Justice and Sunday School teacher for many years.
Iowna was a devoted mother who was tireless in her efforts to help her girls succeed. With her guidance and support, she enabled her daughter Meryl to achieve great independence and more skills than many thought possible given her disability. In January of 1969, Iowna and Cam narrowly escaped with their lives when the original Campbell farm home was destroyed in an explosion and fire. Mom woke up under the kitchen table surround by lathe, plaster, dust and smoke and heard Dad calling her. They crawled to safely led by a small beam of light they could see outside. Iowna suffered frost bite to her feet as her shoes came off with the explosion, and she was running around outside on a frigidly cold day in bare feet. It was a proud day in November of the same year when they were able to move into their new home on the same site.
Cam and Iowna enjoyed many wonderful trips across Canada travelling by car or their motorhome. They keenly enjoyed meeting family and friends in destinations like Hawaii, Florida, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and England. In 1981, Iowna and Cam flew from Hawaii to Calgary to "feed and nurse" Marilyn back to health after her cancer treatments. Marilyn is 100% certain that her mom’s nutritious meals and tireless efforts, helped turn the corner on her illness. Iowna and Cam were so happy to collaborate with daughter Marilyn and her husband Rick Barry in purchasing a condo in Kissimmee Florida just minutes from the orange grove that Iowna’s grandparents had purchased after they retired from their farm.. The family enjoyed many trips to the condo and Disney to enjoy the sunshine.
Iowna was a devoted friend to many, driving folks "here and there" and baking for anyone in need. She served on many committees and on the Board of Family Visions, Inc until she was 90 years. Iowna was a firm believer in life-long learning. In her 80s , she joined Urban Acres "ITC -International Training in Communication", a Toastmistress type group. She told family she achieved her goal of learning to public speak with greater confidence. Many interesting speeches and toasts were prepared in prep for these meetings.
In 2005, Iowna was honoured to be nominated in the YWCA Woman of Distinction Awards for her community service. Iowna told the nominating committee that her greatest accomplishment was learning to drive and getting her Driver's license; she was proud to help Marilyn and Judy and grandchildren learn to drive. Those who learned from her recall her directions: "Be patient...Wait for cars to pass- there will always be a safe time to pull out!" She drove her car into her 90s, and was "less than thrilled" when her daughters insisted she let that go.
After Cam’s passing in 2001, Iowna moved to Westman Lions Manor for about 10 years where she started a senior fitness class using videos she obtained from the Osteoporosis Society. She loved her "job" of setting things up for the group. In 2011 she moved to Victoria Landing, then briefly to ValleyView PCH. Her last 2 ½ years were at Fairview PCH.
Iowna found great joy in watching her grandchildren Derek, Kristy and Jeremy and proudly enjoyed their accomplishments They remember that her home usually smelled like fresh baking and there would be old time music playing in the living room. They recall that Grandma was always so welcoming and, whether they came to eat, sleep or visit, they were always treated like royalty. Mom would prepare special meals for all of them and would deliver them on fancy trays right to their “hide a bed” in front of the TV; beverages were often in a crystal goblets! With grandma they learned to bake cookies, muffins, puddings and even beet pickles. Snack time was a favorite because celery had to be adorned with cheese and raisins to create ‘ants on a log.’ They learned that grapefruit could be sprinkled with sugar, and bananas could be dipped in brown sugar! Who knew? No one had told them that at home!
Judy recalls that Mom was the only person she knew who read all the directions and operator manuals when they got something new. If she gave someone a gift that was a little complicated, she would read the directions and highlight the key points before giving it away.
Marilyn and Judy remember how Mom loved the Wheat King Booster Club dances and the Saturday night Barn dances at Sportsmen's Park. On one occasion ( when Mom was in her 70s), she agreed to drive their motorhome to the lake for the dance. Dad was so confident in her ability that he decided to drive the car up by gravel to check the crops instead of following her. Half way up, the awning rolled out unexpectedly as she drove along. Iowna calmly pulled over to the side and hailed a passerby to help roll it back up!
Last Christmas, a special memory was made when grandson Derek brought his guitar to play for Grandma. We will all remember seeing mom join in to sing every word to Jingle Bells! Singing was something mom had not done for several years so it brought tears to all our eyes. She was in her glory enjoying a sing-song with her family!!
Doug recalls that when he accidentally cut his leg and needed to go to the hospital, he drove to Iowna’s to ask for a ride to emergency. He waited several minutes on the step after speaking with her and then finally went in to see what was keeping her. He found that she was preparing a savoury lunch for him to eat on the way to the hospital!
Iowna will be remembered as a patient, bright and strong minded woman who cared deeply, worked tirelessly, and held fast to the belief that it is better to give than receive. She was a proverbial energizer bunny until her batteries began to run down in her final years in personal care. She was a true lady to the end, always expressing appreciation and very little regard for herself. As the family reflected on her life it became clear that her frequently used phrases provided many important life lessons that could help to create a better world for all.
Live by the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"
If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all!
Have faith : trust that it will all work out!
If you drop it, pick it up; if you mess it up, clean it up.......
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Patience is a virtue! And to the grand children: A-B-C means: Always Be Careful
We were sad to see her go, but we take solace in knowing that she lived a full and happy life. We imagine that she is embracing her parents,, visiting with family and friends who have gone on before , and happily dancing with Dad as they watch the rest from their vantage point on high.
Iowna (always the gracious lady and faithful planner) wrote out a list of her favorite Hymns that family could use at her final service. With her pre planning, she was clear in telling Brent Buchanan at Memories that she wanted NO NEW HYMNS! Later she drafted a headstone for her gravesite with the words:
“BEYOND THE SUNSET, FOREVER MORE.” The lyrics are very suitable
Beyond the sunset
Oh, blissful morning
When with our Savior
Earth's toiling ended
Oh, glorious dawning
Beyond the sunset
When day is done
Beyond the sunset
No clouds will gather
No storms will threaten
No fears annoy
Oh, day of gladness
Oh, day unending
Beyond the sunset
Beyond the sunset
Oh, glad reunion
With our dear loved ones
Who've gone before
In that fair homeland
We'll know no parting
Beyond the sunset