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BIRRELL, Dorothy Jane (nee Willis)

February 19, 1916 – June 9, 2014

After a life filled with happy memories and much love, Dorothy passed away peacefully on June 9, 2014 at the age of 98 years. The daughter of Gerry and Elsie Willis, Dorothy was born in Toronto on February 19, 1916. She graduated as a nurse in 1938 from the Toronto East General Hospital. Dorothy met John, then a medical student from the Toronto University, and as she states in the book they authored together (You and I), “he would change my life forever”. During their lengthy retirement, Dorothy and John travelled extensively, spending winters in California and Victoria. They became residents of Victoria for several years, acquiring many wonderful friendships. They moved back to Calgary in 1995 to be close to their family. They later moved into the Canyon Meadows Retirement Residence where for the past six years Dorothy enjoyed the laughter, fun and games with her dear friends Vi, Freda, Ruth and JP.

Dorothy was predeceased by her husband John on May 20, 2010 after sixty-seven years of marriage. She was also predeceased by her daughter Maralee Pozzo on September 16, 2011.

Dorothy is survived by her sons David (Leslie), Doug (Simonne), daughter Susan (Andy Lockhart) and son-in-law Gary Pozzo. Dorothy’s life was filled with the joy of ten special grandchildren; Gregg (Ruthie), Karen (Jay Fjestad), Janet (Chris Scase), Renée (Ryan Duckworth), Robert Birrell (Talia), Cathy Roberts, Stephen (Kerry Lockhart), Kevin, Michael (Renee Pozzo), and Kent Pozzo. Dorothy is also survived by sixteen great-grandchildren and John’s sister Eileen Rhamey and family. At Dorothy’s request, no service will be held. The family would like to extend a special thank you to the staff at Intercare Southwood Hospice for the compassionate and understanding care they provided to Dorothy. Forward condolences through If you wish to make a donation in Dorothy’s memory, please direct it to the charity of your choice.

In living memory of Dorothy Birrell, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES Park Memorial Chapel, 5008 ELBOW DRIVE S.W. Calgary, AB, T2S 2L5, Telephone: 403-243-8200.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Bernice Edwards and John Birrell :

    What a wonderful family you are. John and I travelled to Calgary for a golf trip some years ago with the intention to visit Dorothy and John. They hosted a dinner and I was seated beside John and was warned not to touch the pickled onions that were strategically placed close to his plate, he reluctantly offered me one. I had the pleasure of emailing and writing to Dorothy for several years, we talked about our families of course, she was so proud. I will miss her letters and was so pleased to have had the occasion to have lunch with her and David last Fall. As short as it was, I feel privileged to have known her….special lady.

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  2. Trudy Martin :

    Our sincerest sympathy to the family.
    John & Dorothy were valued members of the Calgary Rock & Lapidary Club for many years.
    We have many pleasant memories of times shared at shows and meetings.

    Trudy & Mel Martin

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  3. Sarabeth Carnat :

    My sincere condolences on the loss of your beautiful mother. I have fond memories of family get togethers, birthday parties, and fun times together. We have many pictures of “us kids” enjoying ourselves.
    Lots of love and treasured legacies for all to remember.

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  4. Lourine Babcock :

    To my friend Susan:
    I am so sorry for your loss Susan and your whole family. I fondly remember meeting your mother on a few occasions and so enjoyed her company and the fact that she shared the same name as my mom! You and I chuckled about that.

    I am sending you all a big hug.
    Love Lourine

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  5. Eileen Rhamey :

    Dear Dave, Doug, Susan and Gary,
    I always liked the fact that Dorothy was so smart and sharp on her feet. She made little miniature butter tarts — everybody loved them.
    We miss her.
    Auntie Eileen

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  6. Jean Rhamey :

    Dear Aunt Dorothy,
    I love that picture of you — and you looked so great in pink — but you always had your smile that Uncle John told me lit up the room for him when he first met you. It did!
    I am so grateful for all the happy and fun visits Eileen had with you and Uncle John — they were always so anticipated, looked forwarded to — and she would talk about her time with you afterwards. You gave Mom the gift of sharing together, happiness and fun.
    It was the same for me. You and Uncle John did so many things to make us feel welcome and special — your ‘Welcome’ signs on the door, excursions to the mountains and the theatre, and central to everything, sharing time with family.
    I have lovely memories of times we shared from my last visit, Oct. 2011 — breakfast in the dining room, looking out at the beautiful sky to the mountains on a clear day, you bringing the mini eclairs to go with tea later in the afternoon, conversation, and seeing the family (Hallowe’en downstairs).
    It felt so good knowing you were there, at Canyon Meadows, enjoying chatting with other residents, playing (and winning!) Bingo, watching the curling at your TV, and relaxing in the evening after a family event.
    I will so miss our phone calls — they were not just ‘catching up’ and newsy, but they represented your love and caring.
    You had a quick wit, wrote wonderful letters (Eileen said “Dorothy could have been a reporter”) and you had a remarkable spirit.
    You and Uncle John captured the joy of life!
    Isn’t that something my mother remembered your butter tarts!
    Thank you for everything. I will miss you very much.

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  7. Dianne Haffner (nee Bentley) :

    Dear Susan and Family:
    I have been looking for you Susan for a while and unfortunately only found you because both your parents passed away. They certainly lived a good long life and I’m sure their children were their main source of pride. I’m also so sad and shocked that Maralee passed away. My sister and parents have also passed on…thank goodness for children.
    Sincerely, Dianne Haffner (nee Bentley).

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