(Gertrude) Eileen Blais, nee Ruckle, born March 3, 1926, and slipped free July 6, 2014.
Mom was born on the family homestead in Celista, B.C. with the help of the local midwife, who extracted a promise from our grandfather that if the child were a girl, she would be named after herself, Gertrude Bragg. Our grandfather promised, but swore that the name Gertrude would never pass his lips—and it did not!
Our mother grew up to be something of a rebel, and taught us all to be critical thinkers; she was an advocate of social justice long before there was such a term. Also of organic gardening, repurposing and recycling—she had an artist’s eye and skilled hands. When times were tough, and they often were, those talents were put to use. She could look at a much admired outfit in the catalogue and recreate it using an old coat or dress from a rummage sale for fabric; sweaters were unravelled and knit into new; our father’s army issue greatcoat became a pair of work pants worn for many, many years logging in the bush. Mom was the scourge of craft markets; she could walk through, see something she liked, turn it over and over in her hands, and then go home and reproduce it for herself. Likewise, a garden tour would end with wee slips of cuttings being pinched off and tucked in her purse, later to become their own handsome specimens.
Her infectious sense of humour often bordered on the absurd, but infectious it was—on more than one occasion, our father walked into the house only to find every female in it doubled over with laughter, tears streaming down our faces, and promptly walked right back out. People watching was a pastime that she engaged in till the end—her observations pithy, insightful, and often terribly funny. Our mother was never shy with an opinion; she was an independent thinker who taught us to act on our beliefs.
She was generous to those in need, and despised hypocrisy in all its forms; she made us strong, and we are grateful for that. Her legacy will live on in her children, Marcia Miner (Clint), Ron Blais, Terri Smith (Dan) and Faye Cassia (Jim), grandchildren Tymbre and Tyler Miner, Vanessa (Blais) Wheatley, Jon Bredick, Maitland, Christopher and Logan Cassia, as well as her great-grandchildren, Dallen, Braydon, Drey, Vienne, Nash, Ashlee, Tristan, Aidan and Deklen.
Messages of sympathy may be sent to Eileen’s family by viewing her obituary at www.brandonbowersfuneralhome.com.
Cremation arrangements are in the care of Brandon Bowers Funeral Home, Revelstoke.