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