Obituary of Shirley Rodeghiero
It is with heavy hearts we announce the passing of Shirley Rodeghiero, a lifetime resident of Dawson Creek, British Columbia, on Friday, September 23, 2022, at the age of 86 years.
Eulogy for Shirley Mary Hiebert-Rodeghiero
Thank you for joining us today to celebrate the life of our amazing mom Shirley Hiebert Rodeghiero.
Mom was the first of 5 children born to Diedrich (Slim) and Blanche (Bianca) Hiebert. She was born in the St. Joseph's Hospital on May 9th, 1936. Mom was a very tiny baby, and it was told that she was warmed in a shoe box lined with a sheep skin by the wood stove.
The family had settled on a homestead quarter section in the South Dawson community close to Shirley’s grandparents Giuseppina (Josephine) and Arduino (Joe) Dagasso. She grew up helping out with chores, along with her four brothers – Don, Joe, Gerry, and later Renald.
Arduino was a coal miner and travelled back and forth to Coleman, Alberta for work to support the homestead as they got their feet under them.
The grandparents later moved into Dawson Creek in a small house in the downtown area where they would rent a room to Guido Rodeghiero. Guido was commuting to his construction work on the Bennett Dam project at the time. It was there that Shirley and Guido met, fell in love and were married Dec 23, 1967 to start their lives together.
Our family started in the small house on 96th Avenue. I remember Mom saying that she carried out the negotiations while Dad was away working in camp and was very proud to have accomplished that. This strength was to be a theme throughout her life, and we will always remember her for courage and just a little bit of stubbornness in every step she took.
Even though we were growing up in town, we often visited family in South Dawson for our tradition of Sunday night dinners. Blanche would organize garden work parties based on which chores needed to be done.
In the sixties after Renald was born, the family built the “new house”. The homestead house on their property was a source of exploration and fascination when we were kids. The logs in my Mom’s bedroom area were painted bright pink.
My Mom would talk about not wanting to be a farmer’s wife. When we would beg to raise various strays or pets, she would often say how one of her least favourite chores was tending to the chickens in the coop. She was terrified of birds flying at her and the feel of the feathers didn’t make her happy. However, she did allow us to raise a menagerie of various animals including all kinds of dogs, cats, aquariums of fish, and even several generations of “Peter and Cindy” budgies.
Our home was always a safe place growing up for all the neighborhood kids and there was often a group snack around our kitchen table after school and other parents knew where their kids were.
Later, in the late 70’s our parents announced that they had purchased the lot across the alley and would start plans for their dream home. This lot had been our childhood play lot with neighborhood kids coming over regularly for soccer, baseball, kick the can and hide’n’seek.
Guido was a carpenter and designer. He made many canoes, furniture items, cabinets, and homes for others. It was with great excitement and pride that they started digging the foundation and all the prep work that went into the new dream home.
When we were building the new house, we would climb all over the scaffolding and jump from floor to floor. I pulled a ‘Mary Poppins’ maneuver when I had the wind knocked out of me by jumping from the garage roof into the gravel and re-bar prepped for concrete. My umbrella did not hold up the way the movies had shown. It was likely the first of dozens of concussions for Stella and myself. We played hard with our friends and mom was always calm, caring and ready to bandage us up and supply a hug.
We were so happy to move into the new house that we started bringing our things from the old house over on toboggans in the middle of winter.
We were allowed to pick the paint colours for our rooms and those colours kind of stuck with us through life. Stella trended towards pinks and reds and I got greens and blues.
Shirley sewed all of our curtains, bed coverings and pillow covers and crocheted all kinds of blankets and rugs.
We were so thrilled when she announced to us our beloved cousins would be moving into our old home and be so close to us in Dawson Creek.
We had a special bond with our three cousins: Brenda, Kathy, and Abram. We have many favorite memories about that time in life – often retold by my mom. There was one time when Abram was quite young, and we were playing and mom put his sewed baby blanket into the washer and it came unsewed. She was hastily sewing the trim back on before she gave it back to him while Abram sat despondent on the floor. Uncle Reno (Blanche’s brother) asked, “Aren’t you going to do something to comfort that child? Is he hungry?” and Shirley kept on sewing, saying “I’m pretty sure what he wants is his blanket”.
She had a great sense of humour. On the one hand she wanted us to always be very presentable, clean, and well-put-together. However, she would smile and laugh wryly when we got into it playing hard or doing things that were a bit daring. She especially enjoyed cheeky or sarcastic jokes.
I remember that we had a baby carriage with great springs. We would put all of our cats and kittens in the carriage and run it around the neighborhood bouncing and swinging like crazy. She got phone calls from the neighbors about how young these kids were to be babysitting and caring for young babies. She got a good laugh from this and thought it was funny to inspire such shock in the neighbourhood.
Stella loved to walk on the picket fences in her dresses sewed by Shirley and Blanche. One time, Stella slipped and got trapped hanging upside down. The rest of us went running to get Mom and she laughed and laughed. She performed the rescue and had a great tale to tell the rest of the family.
Another time, she was spraying the inside of the oven with some cleaner and got her hand wedged under the door. She called for us to help her. Stella and I along with Brenda and Kathy, came running but when we found her trapped in the oven, we all fearfully ran away. She laid back on the floor and used her feet to lift the over door up and off her hand to get herself free. She later laughed about how scared we were.
I wanted to add in here a little bit about what a special mother-in-law she was to Brentt and Greg. Over the year’s when people would say to them, “Mother-In-Laws! Am, I right?” and Greg and Brentt would say, “no, not Shirley. She is literally the best”. Brentt and our Mom had special bond and love for liver and onions. When Stella had to be out of town, she would make plans and invite Brentt over for their special meal. When she was sick and in the hospital, Brentt made her liver and onions and brought it to share with her. In typical fashion, she said to him, “it needs more salt”.
To this day, she continued to share her very witty humour with her grandchildren. She was always so proud and happy and interested in the lives of her grandchildren. Likewise, she would give and do anything to make things happier, easier, or richer for them all.
The new home was very much a source of pride for our family and a place designed with family and large social gatherings in mind. A lot of food and good drink were consumed to an accompaniment of laughter and joy.
Our family had very musical roots. Grandpa Diedrich was a musician and played the fiddle in old time country bands. I remember often falling asleep on piles of coats under the table while watching mom and dad dance beautifully around the room.
I remember one of her special ways as we would drive home from the farm late at night, she would have us count the electrical poles while we joked and laughed about the goings on that night. We would fall fast asleep until we arrived home when she would gently wake us from our slumber. Then we would hold her hand while we walked in, crawled into bed and got a big hug while we returned to sleep.
A gift my parents did for us was to provide us with musical instruments. Sometimes, we were put on the spot and asked to play together. In the end, it was lot of fun and I am grateful that they put the faith in us to do that.
Dad was often out of town for work, which meant mom she had a lot of responsibility to be both parents for us while growing up. She always accepted any challenge and gave of herself for both family and friends.
Family was everything in her world and she would help-out anyone who needed it. Feeding people was a big part of conveying that. Even through the pandemic, she would phone or say to us, you’ve been working hard, let me get supper or make you something and bring it over. She was sweet and had special food traditions that she loved.
At various times, all the grandchildren helped with making ravioli, gnocchi or various desserts. We were joking with her that we are going to have to learn how to make pumpkin pie because she was the master of pies. She would have learned that from Blanche who made special desserts like lemon meringue and saskatoon pies and chocolate cake with thick creamy icing and coconut sprinkles.
When we would see Grandma and Grandpa’s truck or Mrs. Laurie’s Ford Mustang in the driveway we would run the rest of the way to the door, because if she was giving one of them a haircut, perm and coffee, we knew there was a good chance for a terrific egg salad sandwiches or special treats. Also, there would be lots of laughs and we would get a chance to watch soap operas also known as “Grandma’s Stories”.
Shirley kept the family Sunday supper tradition going. We would arrive to an amazing spread of delicious food, all of which she seemed to have effortlessly produced with love. It was always a good chance for everyone to catch up on the weeks happenings and make plans. She always beamed at the conversation and laughter the family brought to her table. And no one could ever say they went hungry at Shirley’s! She taught us well and our families will be keeping the family dinner tradition alive.
Mom held many jobs over the years, but family was everything after she retired from Wright’s Cold Storage. She always gave of herself and never complained, provided for us in so many ways, was calm and kept us all safe. Whenever anyone in the family needed extra care, it was often Shirley that tended to it.
She looked after her grandchildren day in and day out for many years, often doing double shifts because of our crazy family schedules. I’m not sure how many waffles she made for the grandchildren over the years but our kids talk about 10,000 ways to have waffles. She taught them to read and print, tie their shoes and always had time for their stories and to band aid a skinned knee or give a ride to their numerous activities. She was caretaker, chauffeur, referee and chef - she was their second mom.
She would often make a separate meal for Giana - the only granddaughter - who was always super picky with food and still is to this day. We always joke this was Grandma’s fault as she spoiled her so much.
Friday chocolate chip cookie baking became an after-school tradition with the grand kids and we always received a bag of freshly baked cookies - often still warm from the oven. Stella recalls that Abram always joked to her that he got the burnt ones when he was young! He still calls Shirley his ‘second mom’.
And even as the grand children have grown up to move on to college and university she always remained interested and so proud in everything they accomplished and every adventure they had. Shirley has been a large part of the amazing individuals that they are becoming.
Mom took on any tasks to support us in growing up for us and our families in later years. This included – but is not limited to:
Brownie leader (we loved being able to call her ‘Brown Owl’) and Girl Guides, baton twirling, swimming, Dawson Creek Symphonette and Choir support, Kiwanis Band support, being chaperone for trips such as Expo 86, sewing innumerable costumes for various events, and fundraising of every sort.
A vivid memory I have from Brownies is that we would get to go to the school gym with her and set up the mushroom/toadstool in the middle of the room and learn all the games and chants. She would practice for the whole week before our lesson, the craft and skills she’d be teaching us. I remember she had a hard side blue suitcase that was filled with all the papers, string, popsicle sticks and tin cans that would be used. I remember us walking home together from Brownies in the winter and crossing the huge snow piles on the boulevard outside our home. In part, it is the thought of knowing how she practiced and planned lessons with us that led me have the idea that I could become a teacher. I saw that with a bit of pre-planning and organization you could have a lot of fun and impact with kids.
Mom liked to keep her hands busy with knitting, crocheting and sewing and liked to try new things. She often said that working on an afghan would help keep her legs warm in the winter. There were doll clothes for our Barbies and she always made the grandkids special toques and blankets in their favorite colours.
Anyone that ever got the privilege of a sweater, afghan, toque, doll clothes or even just a dish scrubbie knows she put every ounce of love she had into everything she made. You could mention in passing that a friend or co-worker was expecting a baby and voila she would make the most beautiful blanket or baby sweater in just a matter of days and always made it seem like no trouble at all.
Over the years, she was part of the Women’s Institute and contributing to the Hospital Auxiliary. Her Catholic Church family was important to her and would always drive and meet others for services and visits.
She had a lovely friend from the church, Vivian who volunteered for the hospital auxiliary and she used to pop by with wool and requests of what the hospital shop could use. Mom used to pretend that it was so much work, but she loved every minute of sharing her beautiful creations, and many of the patterns were actually from memory. She never accepted a dime for anything.
Shirley took great pride in being efficient and helping others in her work at Sears’ in Dawson Creek and as a receptionist at the hospital and later at Wright’s Cold Storage.
In recent years, she would go for dinners a couple of nights per week with her sister-in-law Coleen and good friend Dorial. They maintained close contact and would phone each other most mornings.
It was tremendously sad for me how much loss my mom endured and how much strength she showed us. She just never gave up and never ever let it make her sad or angry or bitter.
When I was about 8 years old, in the old house. I found a box with some photos and pin from the hospital that said “Shirley Verkuil”. I was confused about it because I had figured out that our grandparents’ last name was Hiebert and who was this? It looked like my mom in a hospital uniform.
She told me that she had worked at the hospital as a receptionist and that it was before she had married Dad. I found out from a few other conversations and chats with Grandma, we called her Nanny, that mom had been married earlier in life and that her husband had been killed on the job at BC Hydro. She and my aunties said that they were sworn to silence about it with us. It is with quiet respect that we know.
I watched my Nonna come and live with us in the new house when she was in her late nineties. She was frail and failing. My mom was so patient and kind with her and I will never forget that.
When others, like my grandfather, grandmother and dad became ill, my mom cared for them. She guided us through loss and worked so hard to protect us.
One year ago, was the last time she would pick up Jarvis at high school. This was the start of a lessening of her “get-up-and-go” and a very sad time for us.
Mom stayed in the family dream home until she passed peacefully on September 23, 2022 with family at her side in the Dawson Creek and District Hospital.
My enduring memory of my mom is that of a person who would bring and do whatever was needed to make things a little lighter for others.
She was very much a strong silent person. She never complained and rarely asked for anything and always had a smile on her face. She would help you out in a moment without hesitation, she was a great listener and after she heard what you had to say she would offer you something to eat - she always wanted you to be warm and fed.
That’s how she kept us safe. She would always call or visit to make sure everyone was ok and listen to our daily events and was so proud to share accomplishments or adventures we all had. She just wanted us safe and worry free - the most amazing selfless person we will ever know and we were so lucky to have her as our friend, mom and grandmother!
I hope that each of us can take the gifts she gave and what she stood for and use that as inspiration to continue keeping this world a safer and brighter place.
A Funeral Service for Shirley will be held on Saturday, October 1, 2022, at 11:00am from Reynars Funeral Chapel. Pauline Haycock will officiate. Interment to follow in the Dawson Creek City Cemetery.
For friends so wishing, donations may be made in memory of Shirley to the D.C. & District Hospital Auxillary Society, 11100 - 13 Street, Dawson Creek, BC, V1G 3W8.
Very Respectfully, Reynars Funeral Home and Crematorium
In Loving Memory
1936 - 2022
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