Wilma Marion Shackleton
March 30, 1918 (Toledo, ON) - March 2, 2022 (Fort St. John, BC)
Our beloved matriarch, the formidable powerhouse of a woman we called mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend, has made her transition to that better place.
Born Wilma Marion Willows on March 30, 1918, the third of seven children to Roy and Lillian Willows, Wilma Shackleton passed peacefully at home on March 2, 2022, just weeks shy of her 104th birthday. Wilma was predeceased by her parents and all of her siblings, husband Clayton, son Roy, and daughter Mary Evellyn Buist. She is lovingly remembered by daughter Patricia Willis (Tom Wolsey) of Fort St. John, son Robert Shackleton of Brantford, ON, 6 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren, along with several step children and their families. She was Aunt Wilma to 59 nieces and nephews.
She came into the world during the world's first pandemic and left it during the second, her character shaped by a childhood in depression era rural Ontario where the harshness of life was softened only by the comfort and steadfastness of family. She pursued her lifelong dream and became an operating room nurse during the war years at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, where she would meet and marry her husband, Clayton Shackleton, in 1942.
They raised three children, starting on the farm near Belmont, ON, moving to St. Thomas, ON where they ran a restaurant - The Diana Grill, to Glencoe, ON as Clayton taught high school, and then to Wingham, ON where Wilma picked up her nursing again. In pursuit of a better nursing job, they then moved to Brantford, ON. In her nursing career, she attained positions of Hospital Supervisor and Director of Nursing. Life demanded that she be focused and efficient, often strict, but she was surprisingly fun with an infectious laugh, and she never shied away from a microphone, a piano, or a glass of good scotch. She could dole out advice, opinion, and apple pie in equal measure. Wilma was a take-charge woman, always first in line to help and last to ask for it. She was the kind of woman you wanted in your corner.
Family always ranked #1 in Wilma's priorities. In her last years, she considered herself fortunate to have lived 7 years in Norman Wells, NWT with Mary Evelyn, 7 years in Brantford, ON with Robert, and then 9 years in Fort St. John, BC with Patricia and Tom. She had a strong mind and body, and took care of herself right up to the end when sleep finally brought her life to an end.
As one of the greatest generation, she saw the greatest changes in history, from horsepower to nuclear power, first flight to space flight, electric lights to electric cars, two world wars and the worldwide web. In her long lifetime, she fought her own battles for equality and respect, and she forged her own path from class valedictorian to celebrated centenarian.
If a life could be captioned with a word, hers would be integrity. Fiercely competent and ferociously loving, she lived by traditional values in an increasingly modern world. Her fortitude served as an example and an inspiration to all who called her friend.
Bless you and thank you, lovely lady, for your generous nature and boundless energy, the lessons, the laughs, and the light.
Wilma requested that there be no service and we honour her decision.
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