Thursday, August 6th
Foam Lake United Church
Rebecca (Reba) Lillian (Austin) Gilchrist was born on June 30, 1924, in Kerrobert, Saskatchewan, the first child of Percy and Violet (Bigham) Austin. She died peacefully on July 29, 2015, among fellow residents and staff at the Gateway Lodge in Canora, Saskatchewan.
Reba leaves to mourn her four children: Lloyd (Linda) Gilchrist of Swan River, Elizabeth (Bette) Cyr of Mission, B.C., Darlene (Graham) Whalen of Yorkton and Wayne (Noreen) Gilchrist of Saskatoon; her grandchildren, Reginald Cyr, Nicole Cyr, Jodi Chubaty, Mark Gilchrist, Christopher Bieber, Timothy Bieber and Matthew Gilchrist; great-grandchildren, Taylor Seinen, Jordan Chubaty, Brendan Chubaty, Nathan Chubaty, Anna Gilchrist, Leah Gilchrist and Jordyn Cyr; great, great-grandchild Addison Seinen; sister Fern Nicholls and sisters-in-law, Rena Virgin, Anne Gilchrist, Simonne Gilchrist, and Martena Eckert.
Reba spent the first few years of her life on her family's farms - first at Driver, then at O'Malley, two small communities (which no longer exist) to the west of Saskatoon. At high school age, she went to live with her Bigham grandparents in Saskatoon so she could attend Nutana Collegiate. After high school, Reba went to Toronto and worked in a bakery. After that, she moved to the Lakehead where she worked in the grain exchange. Her parents had moved there in the meantime because her father had obtained work as a welder to help in the war effort. Reba then heard of a young cousin in Tuffnell, Saskatchewan, in need of assistance with a new baby and managing a farm home. It was when she moved to Tuffnell that she met James Gilchrist, who had just returned home after the war. They were married on September 27, 1946, in Yorkton. That first winter they spent in Port Arthur, where James worked at a grain terminal.
The young couple then returned to Saskatchewan, where James worked as a hired man for his uncle at Tuffnell for a few years. In 1950, they moved to the family farm just east of Foam Lake, where they lived for all their married lives. Between 1947 and 1959, their four children were born.
Reba was a hard worker who spent long hours each day being the best wife and mother she could be for her family. She maintained a happy outlook regardless of the hard times. She had faith that all would turn out well in the end in spite of the fact that she had few conveniences to help with her workload. Reba baked bread every week even in the heat of summer with an old wood cookstove that heated the house to unbelievable temperatures. But she didn't complain, just kept moving fast enough to cause a cooling breeze!
Reba's family was her passion. There was no doubt about that. She put her family's well-being and happiness above everything, including her personal ambitions or desires. She lived her faith actively by showing her love for her family. She also realized that community was important. She was active in the Legion Auxiliary and the United Church Women for many years. After her children left home she served on the board of the Foam Lake Co-op.
Reba was also a very hospitable and welcoming hostess to all who visited her. Her guests were eager to return and enjoy her company.
After James' death in 2000, Reba continued to live on the family farm with the companionship of her dog Pepper. She often went to town a couple of times a day to socialize and have coffee with her friends. One winter day on a trip to town her car hit some ice and rolled - was that enough to slow her down? No, she right away made her first priority getting some new "wheels." A few years later, her sister Fern Nicholls moved to Foam Lake from Ontario, which added more companionship in her later years.
With increasing age it was agreed that Reba would move to town where she lived in a little house for a few years. When it became apparent that she could not live alone any longer, she moved to Yorkton to her daughter Darlene's home. After some time there, she moved into a seniors' residence also in Yorkton. A few health problems required Reba to move again - this time to the Canora Gateway Lodge, where she spent the final two years of her life with the same positive, sunny, welcoming, disposition she always had.