Bertha Barkley, a resident of Chesterville for the past 72 years, passed away peacefully at Winchester District Memorial Hospital on Thurs., April 26, 2018. She was 89.
Bertha was born in Arden, Ont. to her parents, John and Mildred Hawley (nee Mouck). She lived on a little farm with her Mom and Dad, in a beautiful old log house. It was a hard life, but a good one. Back in the day, children had to do farm chores before they walked two miles or more to school and back – Bertha was no exception.
At 16 years old, after graduating from school, she embarked on a new adventure, moving to the big city of Kingston, where she quickly found work as a waitress in a restaurant. It was there that she met a dashing young army man named Myles, who swept her off her feet, and married her two weeks later. On their honeymoon, Myles brought her to Chesterville to meet the family, and she never left.
They started their married life living with Myles’ parents on Church Street. Then, they rented an apartment at Baldy Block for a time, and then lived down by the park. They eventually moved into a house that Myles and Butch built, and Bertha raised her brood of seven children – six boys and one girl, Yvonne, who, along with Tass, would eventually become her devoted caregivers.
Bertha was a housewife and had babies – that’s what she always wanted to be and do. She had been an only child growing up. As an adult, she hoped for a house full of close-knit family – a home with much laughter, joy and love. She got her wish!
Bertha sewed all her children’s clothes, knitted them sweaters, and prepared three square meals a day for all of them. She did a lot of mending as well, her specialty was putting in zippers – she kept that up even until just a few years ago.
Even with all of the responsibilities she carried, she still found time to work outside her home when she could. She worked at the local linen mill doing factory work juggling different shifts and even night shifts to accommodate her family at home. She also worked as a waitress at McCloskey’s for eight years. She took in three different boarders, and she even did their laundry. She was a very dedicated, hard-working woman. She never complained – about anything. Her door was always open to neighbors and strangers alike – she would help anyone in need. Everyone loved her.
There was a lot of hard work in her life, but there was also so much joy. Bertha was a child at heart – she loved being with her family, loved having visitors, loved get-togethers for family celebrations, loved to cook for any occasion, or no occasion, but she especially loved Christmas. That’s when she pulled out all the stops – with table upon table laden with every possible treat her family might enjoy, with decorations everywhere, and Christmas lights. Bertha loved looking at Christmas lights! She was also what her children called a “snooper.” If there was a gift somewhere for her she would try everything to figure out what was in the package. Her curiosity would get the better of her every time. But the gift itself wasn’t so important to her. Cards meant everything to her. She kept every single greeting card she ever received in her life. She especially appreciated the hand-made cards Tass made for her. She made sure every single family member always received a gift on special occasions – Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays, special events – she kept all important dates written down in a special book. “Let me check the date,” she would say. “I have it in my bible.” And she collected newspaper clippings of her family’s accomplishments, most recently of Kurtis’ golfing career.
Bertha bowled, she drove tractors and rode bicycles, but she never learned to drive a car. Bertha loved to go dancing at the Legion, and played darts and cards – euchre was her favorite – and she was fiercely competitive at it! You did not get in the way of that woman and her euchre game. She loved to go camping, and she loved to fish – but, taking the fish off the line, not so much. She loved bingo, and she loved to race around the aisles at Walmart with the carts that you can sit behind.
She raised her own seven children, she raised four of her long-time partner Pete’s children, she raised her very young sister-in-law, and she cared for her beloved father-in-law later in life.
We will remember Bertha’s kind and welcoming heart, her selflessness in always putting others first, her cheerfulness, waking up each morning giving thanks for the blessing of another day. She appreciated everyone and everything just as they were, without judgment or expectation. She truly was the mother, the friend, everyone would want to have.
Bertha was an amazing woman. She will be sorely missed, and remembered always, with the deepest of love and admiration.
She is survived by her children, Francis “Butch” (Judy) of Chesterville, Yvonne Erath (Tass) of Chesterville, Ray (Cathy) of Alliston, Rick (Karen) of Williamsburg, Kenny (Sandy) of Lunenburg, and Myles (Christine) of Chesterville; and her daughter-in-law, Marilyn Barkley of Morrisburg. Bertha will be fondly remembered by 21 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grand children. She was predeceased by her parents John and Mildred Hawley (nee Mouck), her husband, Myles Barkley, and her son, Ernie Barkley. She is also survived by nieces and nephews.
Friends called at the Marsden and McLaughlin Funeral Home in Chesterville, on Sun., April 29 from 2 to 4 pm. The funeral service was held at the funeral home on Mon., April 30 at 11 am with Rev. Debbie Poirier officiating, followed by interment at Maple Ridge Cemetery in Chesterville. The pallbearers were her grandsons, Matthew Barkley, Adam Barkley, Kurtis Barkley, Trevor Barkley, Mike Barkley, and Jesse Barkley.
Donations to the Heart and Stroke Foundation would be gratefully acknowledged by the family.
Online condolences may be made at www.marsdenmclaughlin.com