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On Monday, September 13, 2010, Roma Florence Greta Bernice Dartnell, formerly of Edmonton and later of Calgary, went home peacefully at the age of 93, after a truly remarkable life. She was predeceased by her husband Lorne and is survived by her daughter Nancy Olsen (and son-in-law Bill, both now of Saskatoon), her son Doug Dartnell (and daughter-in-law Lee Bibby, both now of Calgary), her granddaughters Jana and Kathryn Dartnell (both of Calgary) and her grandson James Olsen (of Saskatoon).

Roma was born in Wynyard, Saskatchewan, on March 2, 1917, the only child of Thomas and Mabel Vause (nee Dobbs). One year later the family moved to the neighbouring town of Kandahar, Saskatchewan, where Roma attended public school from 1924 to 1930. 1931 saw the family move to Saskatoon where Roma attended City Park Collegiate until 1935, and thereafter City Park Business College until 1936, when she graduated as a legal stenographer. Following her schooling, Roma had the honour of working in Saskatoon for four years with Emmett Hall (and often with John Diefenbaker when he visited from his law office in Prince Albert) at Hall & Maguire and later at C. M. Brewster & Co., until becoming a placement officer with National Employment Service.

After the war, Roma moved to Winnipeg where she was employed as a secretary by the RCMP. She met Lorne at a church picnic and they married in 1951. Roma and Lorne moved around northern Canada for a few years (including Peace River) and eventually settled in Edmonton where Nancy and Doug were born.

Always ambitious, Roma worked as a school secretary at Jasper Place Composite High School in Edmonton for a few years in the 1960’s and then returned to school at the University of Alberta as a full and part time mature student, obtaining a teaching certificate in 1972 and later a Bachelor of Education in 1976. During this time and beyond, she maintained a family and was employed by the Edmonton Public School Board as an elementary school teacher, usually Grade 2 (and sometimes Grade 3), but always at Parkview School in Edmonton.

Struck by serious illness in 1981, Roma retired from Parkview School. She defied all odds and recovered four years later and thereafter from time to time continued to tutor many children who were fortunate to have known her. Next to her family, her greatest love was her teaching. Roma treated each of her students as an individual and encouraged them to follow their special strengths.

In 1999, to be closer to her family, Roma moved to Calgary where she lived until her death. Special thanks to the staff and friends at Chinook Care Centre in Calgary, including Dr. Palencia, who cared for her since 2008.

A celebration of this remarkable life will be begin at Trinity United Church, (8810 Meadowlark Road N.W., Edmonton) on Saturday, September 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm. Forward condolences through, or by mail to McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES Park Memorial Chapel, 5008 ELBOW DRIVE S.W., Calgary, AB T2S 2L5

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Condolence Messages

  1. Donna Swiniarski :

    Nancy and Doug I want you to know that I will always remember your mother as one of the most influential mentors in my professional career. As a student teacher in her grade 3 class at Parview, Roma taught me that every child has something that can be celebrated. In later years, as a supervisor, I translated that to every employee has something that can be celebrated. When your mother moved to Calgary I really missed our twice yearly coffee visits. Every time I drive by your family home on Buenavista I think of her and wonder how she’s doing. I was saddened to read her obituary in the Edmonton Journal but consoled to know she passed peacefully. You are correct. Your mother did have a truly incredible life and I am blessed to have had her friendship for the years that I did.
    Donna Swiniarski

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  2. Dear Doug and Nancy,
    So sorry to read of Roma’s death.
    We taught together at Parkview School from 1970 ’til she left with Guillaine-Barre.
    She was so proud of both of you, and spoke of you often.
    We had tea at your home in Buena Vista, and I always get warm memories whenever I pass the house on my way to the river.
    Mw sympathy is with you at this time. You’ve had it especially tough lately, losing both parents so close together.
    Best wishes,
    Donna Martyn

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  3. My name is Lisa Dittrick and I would like to offer my most sincere condolences for your loss.

    I was a student in Mrs Dartnell’s class at Parkview in 1972-73 and was known as a shy, quiet and incredibly ‘slow poke’ of a child. Mrs. Dartnell was always so kind and patient with me, just gently encouraging me to move a ‘little bit’ faster.

    I recall one day, as the lunch bell rang, going to the back of the class to put on our coats and boots. I then recall hearing the classroom door close and lock. When I peeked out from behind the big board in which I had been standing (I was shy of putting on my boots in front of other children), there were no students and no Mrs. Dartnell!! This pokey little child was locked alone in the classroom and she hadn’t even put her boots on yet! Mrs. Dartnell found an upset little girl upon her return but she just had a way of making everything alright. That little girl learned to put her boots on quite a bit quicker and I often recalled Mrs. Dartnell checking the back of the class from then on, just ‘in case’.

    As I know Mrs. Dartnell never forgot that day (she often brought it up to my mother over the years when they ran into each other), I wish I could of had the chance to tell her, that shy, scared little child she knew has now completed her 22nd year working as a Correctional Officer in a men’s maximum security prison. I believe she may have been amused and surprised. I also believe, it was to teachers like her, that took the time to make a difference.

    Many teachers I no longer recall, but Mrs. Dartnell, I have never forgotten. She was, is, and will always be that one special teacher to me, the one you never forget. I wanted your family to know this.

    My thoughts are with you at this difficult time,



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  4. Doug, I was sorry to see that your mother had passed away. I never knew her but it sounds like she was an awesome woman. It has been a long time since we crossed paths! I hope you and Lee and the family are doing well. Take care, Tim

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