Della Steele passed away at the Starwood Extendicare Nursing Home on Friday, July 12, 2002, at the age of 96.
She was born on April 9, 1906 near Winchester Springs, the first daughter of Alberta Holmes and Louisa Turner. Being the fifth child and eldest daughter of 13 children, she was forced to leave school after Grade 8 because she was needed at home to help raise her 12 sisters and brothers.
In 1926 she met and married Alvin Steele. A few years later, they bought a farm in Winchester Springs and started to raise their family. Malcolm was the first born, four years later came Irene, then Eric within two years. She took a brief break of seven years before Lorna, then tragedy struck. Her father died in 1940, and two years later Malcolm drowned. It was nearly four years after Lorna was born that her youngest daughter Ruth was born.
Mrs. Steele was involved in teaching Sunday school, helping with the young people’s programs, and she was active in the WMS and UCW organizations. In late summer of 1951, after a short illness, Alvin died and she was left alone to raise four children and manage a large farm.
After her children started to get married and have families of their own, Mrs. Steele decided it was time to find a new life for herself so she started her first job with Freeman’s store in Ottawa at the age of 49. After working at the store for only a few years, Della decided to begin a new career by trying the government exams. Ruth helped her study math with fractions and decimals and she went to night school to learn typing. Always a hard worker and a self learner, she passed the exams and, before her retirement, was promoted to clerk 4.
After retirement, Mrs. Steele travelled. She continued with her needle work and volunteering, plus family and church activities. As her eyesight deteriorated, she decided to move to Garner Lodge in Gravenhurst to be with Ruth and her family. She was happy there for 10 years. At almost 94, she moved back to Ottawa for a brief stay with Lorna until a room became available at Starwood Extendicare Nursing Home in Ottawa.
Love and faith were two values that were very evident in Mrs. Steele’s life. She loved so many things: her families – as a child, as a wife, as a mother, a grandmother (of 16) and then a great-grandmother (of 22). She loved babysitting for any of her family – even as a live-in. She never forgot a birthday or anniversary card or gift. She loved people and made friends easily: back on the farm, in Ottawa, in Gravenhurst and finally at Starwood Nursing Home.
She loved parties, and being the centre of attention. She graciously accepted love and attention from others, anytime, anywhere. She was very grateful for all the small things people did for her. She loved life and thrived on activities, games and travel – but she also enjoyed her quiet times with reading, puzzles, her handy-work or playing the organ. She loved ice cream and home-cooked meals. She loved routines and these had to be followed exactly each day. She had a special way of doing everything and anyone she lived with soon learned that this was the only way.
Della is survived by her children Irene (Allen) Davidson of Ottawa, Eric (Mary) Steele of Winchester Springs, Lorna (Winston) Hooper of Appleton, and Ruth (Lorne) Robertson of Gravenhurst. Dear sister of Robert (Helen) Holmes of RR 4 Winchester and Irwin (Amy) Holmes of Winchester. She was the sister-in-law of Von Holmes of Lanark, Mary Holmes of British Columbia, Linda Durant of Hamilton, and Ruby Lancaster of Winchester. She was predeceased by her son Malcolm, sisters Mina McIntosh, Dora Ball, Louisa Pitts, and brothers Thomas, Oliver, Harry, Leslie, Edwin, Nathaniel, and Eldred. She will be fondly remembered by 16 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
Friends called at the Marsden McLaughlin Funeral Home, Williamsburg, on Sunday from 2-4 and 7-9 pm. Funeral service was held at Winchester Springs United Church on Monday, July 15 at 11 am with Rev. Carol Poley-Delisle officiating. Interment followed at Maple Ridge Cemetery. Pallbearers were grandsons Garry, Brian, Larry, and Rob Steele, Randy Summers, and Tim Robertson. Donations to Starwood Extendicare Nursing Home or the charity of your choice would be appreciated by the family.