EVANS, Catherine “Kathleen”

Catherine “Kathleen” Mary Evans

November 14, 1928 ~ December 22, 2021

 

It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Kathleen Evans on December 22, 2021, in Camrose, Alberta, at the age of 93 years.

Kathleen was born in Mill Hill, London, England on November 14, 1928. She was the eldest daughter of Bridget and James Ronayne.   Kathleen was blessed to have two younger siblings, Mary and John whom she loved and adored.

Kathleen enrolled in Teacher’s Training College in Southampton at the age of 18.  Kathleen loved teaching but she knew she wanted to devote her life to teaching in a way that was total.  In her words, “the avenue to that goal was the life of a teaching sister”.  On the 24th of September, 1949, she stepped into the future, with hope, and happy to adopt the convent way of life.

Looking for opportunity to ‘do more good’ an advertisement in a teacher’s periodical was presented to her.   “Come.  Teach in the land of the moose.  No weaklings need to apply”.   She left the convent in July 1967 and a month later was air bound for Canada.

Kathleen’s Canadian teaching career began in Wabasca, Alberta, with the Northlands School Division.  Not knowing what ‘bush’ meant or having tasted a hamburger she soon learned the way of life, and what it meant living in northern Alberta.  Her teaching position entailed caring for sixteen students, all with learning disabilities.  Kathleen wasn’t just a teacher; she was a story-teller and a poet.  Theatrics were often played in her classroom complete with costume. Kathleen didn’t limit her teaching to just the classroom.   It was her mission to open the minds of children to the possibilities and wonders of the world.  In doing so she took her Wabasca students on a week-end trip to Edmonton.  Controlled traffic lights, shopping malls, and the many animals strange to them at Al Oeming’s Game Farm were new experiences to these students.

She moved to Edmonton a few years later and obtained a job with Edmonton School Division teaching grade three to inner-city students who had deficiencies in reading. She incorporated letter writing into her class work to improve their writing skills.  Her students corresponded with a group of students from Cambridge Bay, NWT.  Over time these distant friends grew closer.  Kathleen’s mind went to work and soon fundraising began.  Eventually, enough money was raised for two teachers and seventeen students to fly to Cambridge Bay for a week-end trip to visit their pen pal friends.  They walked on the frozen Arctic Ocean, ice-fished, rode on sleds pulled by teams of huskies and watched in awe as an Inuit hunter built his igloo.

Kathleen married her husband Dick Evans, in 1971.  They moved to a farm in the Cloverlawn area in 1975 where they had horses, donkeys, goats, chickens, dogs & cats.  Kathleen became very involved in her church, teaching catechism and organizing Christmas plays.  Kathleen’s last teaching assignment was at Gwynne School where she taught for fourteen years retiring in 1989.

Kathleen’s motto was, “To Read Is to Know”.   One of her life projects was, “The Travelling Library”.  The idea came to life in caring for the youngest children in the Gwynne School who told her during the summer months they read their same books over and over.  She believed reading lead to higher achievement and students needed the right sort of books that would allow them to progress and become fluent readers.  Farmers were busy during the summer months but the children often had lots of time on their hands.   Kathleen’s idea was . . . to start her own library!   For eighteen years, Kathleen drove the dusty back roads with her Travelling Library delivering reading books to County of Wetaskiwin, Camrose, and Leduc children during the summer months.  Each month she would spend $100 of her own money on good books for children.  By 2004 her collection of children’s books grew to 20,000 and she had two hundred readers on her route that she delivered books to each and every week.   The books in her shelved lined van were changed out weekly from the collection that was housed in a single garage.  Many a time she would hear words like, “May I keep this book for another week?  I must find out what happens.” or “Do you have a book about _____?”  Kathleen’s Travelling Library was featured on the CBC show, “On the Road Again”.

Kathleen was Grandma Teller, writing a weekly newspaper page for the Wetaskiwin Times Advertiser for 14 years.  The page, written for children, was titled, “Our Page” and contained word puzzles, word searches, poems, stories, book reviews.

After the passing of her husband, Dick, in 2007, Kathleen moved back to her beloved England to be near her brother and his family.  She self-published three books – Elephant’s Hide (her autobiography), Cameos of India, and recently a collection of poetry titled, In the Shadow of the Rockies.

An invitation from a priest, who was also a dear friend, to visit India and experience his home-land was very enticing to Kathleen.   Her first of five visits to India was in 2007 at the age of 79 years.  In her quest to learn about Indian culture she immersed herself in their daily life.  She was intrigued by the way tasks were done differently.  She experienced their religious and symbolic ceremonies and celebrations (birthdays and weddings).  When she could, she helped the children. She recounted numerous times how privileged she was to have been permitted to experience the daily routines among India’s poorest and their ever-smiling acceptance of her.

After the passing of her brother, in England, and as her need for aged-support grew, we encouraged Kathleen to move back to Canada where she would be surrounded by a throne of friends.  She arrived in August of 2021, but little did we know we would only have 4 short months with her.

Kathleen will be deeply missed by her sister, Sr/Sister Mary John of Fatima, Portugal, sister-in-law, Mary Ronayne of Bristol, England, and her niece and nephews, Christina, Michael, and Peter (Mary) Ronayne.  Also husband Dick’s children, Donna, Ken and Lorna and their children.

She is lovingly remembered by her numerous friends world-wide and by the many students she taught in her career as a teacher.  One of her greatest pleasures was to hear from past students and so many kept in touch.

Kathleen was predeceased by her husband, Dick Evans and her parents Bridget and James Ronayne brother John Ronayne.

Memorial Donations may be made to:  Friends of St. Peter & Paul Church Society, Box 291, Hay Lakes, AB. T0B 1W0 (non-charitable)

A private Funeral Service for Kathleen will take place on January 5, 2022 at 11:00 AM.  It will be live streamed on the Serenity Funeral Service website at www.serenity.ca and will also be made available for viewing 90 days following the service. DUE TO CONNECTION PROBLEMS THE SERVICE CANNOT BE VIEWED LIVE. Please check back around 1:00 p.m. to view the service. https://vimeo.com/661051656/7e13e2708b       

Serenity Funeral Service, Wetaskiwin

Ph: 780.352.5300

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Tribute wall - a place to share your memories and condolences

Sheima Hossain Lopez

I had the pleasure to meet Kathleen shortly after his brother passed away. She had moved back in England and was living in a small town, Princes Risborough, in Buckinghamshire.
I happened to live at the end of the street where her house was. That’s why, on my way to my kid’s preschool, I walked by her house every weekday.
As soon as she realised we were foreigners she offered herself to take Adrian as her youngest ( he was becoming 3 y.o.) and last student. Once or twice a week Adrian and I visited her in the afternoon to enjoy books she selected for him.
Little by little we got to know each other. I used to knock at her door every time I walk by, to share a cup of tea, ask for her advice or simply enjoy her presence.
She was the most courageous and inspiring person I ever met. The more I learned about her and her adventures, the more impressed I was. I couldn’t be more grateful for the time we spend together.
As the pandemic arose, we had to resígnate ourselves to see each other through the window and chat for a few minutes keeping a physical distance, yet caring each other.
In July 2020, my family and I had to moved back to Spain, wishing to be able to visit her as soon as the situation improved. Little did we know then that going back would turn out to be impossible, due to the restrictions and quarantines, and also because of the risk myself could be to her as I work as a nurse. However we were in contact by email and postal letters and she continued sending books to Adrian and advising me in every big or small situation I had to face.
A few months ago she let me know of her moving to Canada. Knowing how much Canada meant to her, I was happy for her decision but, at the same time, deeply worried about her health. Beside I should acknowledge I was also quite sad because in my heart of hearts I knew I won’t see her anymore. But I try to ignored that selfish feeling, recognizing her moving was for the best.
Now, the postman has brought me the sad news I was waiting for, as she didn’t reply my e-mails anymore.
Her departure leaves me a bittersweet aftertaste, since my sadness is alighted by knowing she leaves in her Canadian home, surrounded by the love and warmth of friends.
I will keep her alive in my heart and will treasure every minute, every letter and every book that her kindness give to Adrian and me.
Wherever you are waiting for us, you know how much we love you, Kathleen .

Theresa Doherty

Thank you, Carol, for informing me about Kathleen. A little known tidbit about Kathleen: when teaching up North, she noticed the alphabet used southern items to illustrate the beginning letters of the words. She realized it would be better to use indigenous words instead. And so set about making this useful teaching tool. She enlisted another teacher friend to do the art work. Her friend was Ted Harrison! Many years later, Ted Harrison’s work was on display at the Provincial Museum in Edmonton. The alphabet was prominently displayed with a large note of thanks to Kathleen Evans for involving him in the project! It has been a joy to know Kathleen over the years. She lived her faith and was prepared to take risks to live more completely in Christ. I will miss your letters, Kathleen. May you Rest In Peace.

Andrea LeBlanc

We are forever changed…not because she left us, but because she touched us.

Pamela Crawshaw-Prangnell

Thank you to the celebrants and friends who so perfectly remembered “Grandma Kathleen” at her service today. Grandma Kathleen married my “Grandpadad” when I was just a toddler. She was the only maternal grandmother I knew.

Visits to their farms and with their neighbours significantly impacted this suburban girl. I admired their country life and Grandma Kathleen’s self-directed and aspirational ways. I especially enjoyed gardening, chores with all the animals, tasting her pickled beets and Victorian sponge cake, and discussing my favorite books with Grandma Kathleen. She genuinely enjoyed knowing what I liked to learn and why.

Once she accidentally bought a Shetland Pony at auction and it was given to my siblings and I to name Timothy.

As an adult, though, my visits were discouraged more often than not. “It’s not a good time,” I was told, even when I was in the area from my home in Lethbridge. Perhaps Grandpadad was difficult, I justified, and didn’t push for relationship. When Grandma Kathleen’s life was finally unencumbered by a very challenging life with my grandfather, I was inspired to learn that she lived her dreams. She had a fulfilling, adventurous, and service-filled life into her very late years.

Regrettably, COVID19 changed how Grandma Kathleen’s life ended and was celebrated, so this is how I’ll pay final respects to my grandmother. Rest peacefully and remain free in Christ, Grandma Kathleen.

Cari McDonnell

I just learned today not only of Mrs. Evan’s passing, but that she had returned to Canada and was living in Camrose since August; such heartbreaking news. I was one of her students in Gwynne, as was my oldest son. We experienced her kindness and passion for literature with the Travelling Library as well as her dedication to see children read successfully. She had developed her own learn-to-read program, sharing it with every family that was interested. She recognized my interest in reading and writing and was never shy to encourage more from me…she even used an elementary Christmas drawing of mine for her personal Christmas card covers, and I remember feeling surprised that a teacher would take such interest in her students. She was certainly a character, and I recall visiting her and Dick’s farm with my family. We kept in touch over the years, and I remember feeling such awe and admiration for her travel to India. I am so happy that she had such adventures, and was then able to reconnect with family in Camrose. She will be missed greatly.

Lynne Chalmers

Kathleen was a wonderful lady who was a faithful friend. Our walks on her farm through the pea field, the cups of tea at her home or mine, and the visit my friend Carol and I had in Nailsea were cherished. She arranged a tour around the English countryside with her brother to see Stonehenge and Avebury. Welcome back to Canada, my friend!

Celia Buttigieg

I have only known Kathleen for 5 years. Yet in those 5 years she has had a profound influence on my life. I always admired her beautiful mind, creativity, energy and drive, which was all coupled with a great humility. I’d like to quote something she wrote to me only a matter of weeks before her death: I quote: ” In the story of the Magi, they travelled quietly through desert lands, but burst forth upon Jerusalem and disturbed the locals’ peace by the story of the moving star. They silently left that city, and when it halted over the place where the child was, going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary and falling to their knees they did him homage. Let us follow their examples IN THE UNEXPECTED IN OUR LIVES let us say ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace to men who enjoy His favour, Amen” end quote. She wrote this to me, her last message to me, on one of her postcards covered in orange/crimson Maple leaves. Her profound generosity and caring really struck me, not least when her birthday celebrations were more about giving to others rather than to herself. For her 90th birthday she organised and planned a grand puppet theatre show for the primary school she used to visit ( in order to help the children with their reading) at St John’s primary school in Lacey Green England. She chose to have the story of Pinocchio re enacted, and explained to me how important the message of reading and learning was to her. The children loved it and you could see the joy in her face at being able to provide this special treat for all of them. She encouraged me in my art work and shared her amazing biography and book of poems, her diary of trips to India , all a wonderful and inspiring read. I would encourage anyone to read her biography as it outlines a life full of adventure and some hardship, courage, hope , faith and love. I’d also like to add that Kathleen has been a source of wisdom and comfort to me during a very difficult time, when dealing with illness in my family. God bless you Kathleen.

Lynn Theroux

How Kathleen touched my life. I first met Kathleen via a friend who informed me, that she was a retired teacher, who could tutor my son, who was having difficulties reading. I & my son were blessed to have met her, she was able to instill a love for stories & the written word, through his love of the Pokemon Animated characters. She was a gifted teacher with unique, self taught & learned techniques to enlighten any child or adult. She truly served her Saviour by the gifts he blessed her with, she lived her Motto: To Read is to Know! Kathleen & myself continued our friendship until her passing; I have many fabulous memories she has left for me, I truly will miss her presence, but she is now in good hands with her Saviour. Rest in Peace my dear Friend, Lynn & Family

Rev.Balaswamy Bathini

I Reverend Balaswamy Bathini, a catholic priest from India,would like to share my thoughts about Mrs.Kathleen Evans, often called Grandma Evans, Grandma Story Teller. She ran a Travelling Library in and around Wetaskiwin, Camrose and Gwynnne. She is known by GRANDMA among her friends and beneficiaries of her countenance in India. It was in 2006, July 27, we met one other not by chance but by choice made by God. We were meant to meet, chat, eat, pray, play, share, argue and enhance one another until the last time we spoke over the Skype on Monday, December 13, 2021. While I had a chance to visit her thrice in England besides our maiden visit in Canada in 2006, she visited India five times.
She has two mottoes; Dicite a Me: Learn of Me in her life’s effort to be Christ like and Utimini Me: Use me. She lived all through her life learning to be Christ like especially to children. There is no doubt about her availability to children especially to those who are slow readers with speech impediment. She was useful to thousands of souls across the west and East. She was a talkative and at the same time good listener too. Many of her students write to her and call her over the phone letting out their worries, anxieties, hurt feelings and concerns. I am one of them who received such a consolation from her.
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
(Mt 25:34-36) I can truly say these biblical verses found meaning in the life of Kathleen; for when children lack proper clothes, school supplies she helped them during her visits to India. She financially supported to establish water treatment machinery where there is high ratio of fluoride content in the drinking water. She has a special concern for the aged people.

‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ (Mt 25:21) I am very confident that Kathleen was faithful servant in all her responsibilities as an eldest girl in the Ronayne family. Her dedication as a head mistress in various schools in England and as a teacher in Alberta is commendable. The visits she made to England while her parents still alive speak of her responsibility towards her parents. It was highly appreciated the way she took care of Dick Evans. She never wasted a single minute. During her visits in India, she offered herself to teach English to first and second grade children. They enjoyed her classes. She has definitely used her material riches for the greater causes all over the world, in and around Hay Lakes, Leduc, Wetaskiwin, Camrose and especially in India. I believe the Lord is going to give a share in her Master’s joy. She is called to enjoy the eternal bliss after all that great and tireless responsibilities.

She is known for her literary works. She is a very good writer. The descriptions of her Indian visits speak volumes of her experiences of joy, peace, some confusion, misunderstanding, diet and cultural differences. She managed to live for six months long for the first three times she visited India. It shows her tremendous appreciation for other cultures.

She has a special heart for the appreciation of nature. Every time that she visited India, we were visiting Bay of Bengal, the nearest Sea shore. She loves paddling in the waters. During her first visit to India in 2007, she named a little mountain standing right across the Rectory a Sugarloaf Mountain. She was so fond of Oxen. We made her to ride the cart with Oxen.

I am extremely sorry for I am not able to participate in the Funeral service of Kathleen because of legal visa issues. She is a living saint to many of my friends who have been receiving a great spiritual and material help from Kathleen. May she join the saints in heaven and continue to pray for us all.
Rev.Balaswamy Bathini
[email protected]
January 5, 2022

Rev.Balaswamy Bathini

I Reverend Balaswamy Bathini, a catholic priest from India,would like to share my thoughts about Mrs.Kathleen Evans, often called Grandma Evans, Grandma Story Teller. She ran a Travelling Library in and around Wetaskiwin, Camrose and Gwynnne. She is known by GRANDMA among her friends and beneficiaries of her countenance in India. It was in 2006, July 27, we met one other not by chance but by choice made by God. We were meant to meet, chat, eat, pray, play, share, argue and enhance one another until the last time we spoke over the Skype on Monday, December 13, 2021. While I had a chance to visit her thrice in England besides our maiden visit in Canada in 2006, she visited India five times.
She has two mottoes; Dicite a Me: Learn of Me in her life’s effort to be Christ like and Utimini Me: Use me. She lived all through her life learning to be Christ like especially to children. There is no doubt about her availability to children especially to those who are slow readers with speech impediment. She was useful to thousands of souls across the west and East. She was a talkative and at the same time good listener too. Many of her students write to her and call her over the phone letting out their worries, anxieties, hurt feelings and concerns. I am one of them who received such a consolation from her.
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
(Mt 25:34-36) I can truly say these biblical verses found meaning in the life of Kathleen; for when children lack proper clothes, school supplies she helped them during her visits to India. She financially supported to establish water treatment machinery where there is high ratio of fluoride content in the drinking water. She has a special concern for the aged people.

‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ (Mt 25:21) I am very confident that Kathleen was faithful servant in all her responsibilities as an eldest girl in the Ronayne family. Her dedication as a head mistress in various schools in England and as a teacher in Alberta is commendable. The visits she made to England while her parents still alive speak of her responsibility towards her parents. It was highly appreciated the way she took care of Dick Evans. She never wasted a single minute. During her visits in India, she offered herself to teach English to first and second grade children. They enjoyed her classes. She has definitely used her material riches for the greater causes all over the world, in and around Hay Lakes, Leduc, Wetaskiwin, Camrose and especially in India. I believe the Lord is going to give a share in her Master’s joy. She is called to enjoy the eternal bliss after all that great and tireless responsibilities.

She is known for her literary works. She is a very good writer. The descriptions of her Indian visits speak volumes of her experiences of joy, peace, some confusion, misunderstanding, diet and cultural differences. She managed to live for six months long for the first three times she visited India. It shows her tremendous appreciation for other cultures.

She has a special heart for the appreciation of nature. Every time that she visited India, we were visiting Bay of Bengal, the nearest Sea shore. She loves paddling in the waters. During her first visit to India in 2007, she named a little mountain standing right across the Rectory a Sugarloaf Mountain. She was so fond of Oxen. We made her to ride the cart with Oxen.

I am extremely sorry for I am not able to participate in the Funeral service of Kathleen because of legal visa issues. She is a living saint to many of my friends who have been receiving a great spiritual and material help from Kathleen. May she join the saints in heaven and continue to pray for us all.
Rev.Balaswamy Bathini
[email protected]
January 5, 2022

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