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McALPINE – Brenda

September 15, 1943 – July 7, 2010

Brenda McAlpine passed away after a three week battle with cancer on July 7, 2010 at the Agape Hospice in Calgary, AB.

Brenda was born September 15, 1943 in Hillsboro, New Hampshire in a hearse under a Horse chestnut tree, to Benjamin and Ida Butterfield of Antrim, NH. Brenda became a budding musician at an early age. Her first degree was from Plymouth State University where she earned a Bachelor of Education in Music. Later when she moved to Regina, SK, Brenda studied medicine for three years but later she returned to her first love – music. Graduating from University of Northern Colorado with a Masters degree in Music Education Brenda then branched into a new area of study when she completed another Masters Degree but this time in Franciscan History at St. Bonaventure University in NY.

Brenda’s passion for life compelled her to do the best she could at any undertaking, and this included her second love, sports. She took golf to the limit. At one time, Brenda was ranked as one of the ten best amateur female golfers in Canada. Recently, she was a member at Bearspaw Country Club in Calgary, AB and golfers are welcome to wear golfing attire in respect for her love of the game.

Brenda also expressed compassion in everything she did especially in her expression of love for people. Brenda’s diversified careers and education kept her life at a busy pace but she always found time to listen and help whenever she was asked.

Brenda taught music from 1971-2002 as the Music Director for the Regina Public School System, where she directed twenty-five “Broadway style” productions, numerous jazz bands, combos and vocal jazz choirs which won prodigious provincial and national awards. Not only did she teach in Regina, she also contributed to the music scene as a member of several groups, which included the Saskatchewan Symphony Orchestra.

Brenda’s final teaching position was at Bowness High School in Calgary where she gave her last concert on May 26, 2010. Anyone wishing to honor Brenda’s musical accomplishments may dress in black and white as this was the costuming that the students wore during Brenda’s last performance.

Brenda’s spiritual career as Director of Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre in Cochrane, AB allowed her to blend her musical skill with her belief in God. She developed innovative programs combining music and Spirituality and as a result created a positive and healing environment for both staff and clients alike. Collaborative teamwork became a way of life as Brenda shared her skills and knowledge.

Naturally, Brenda was an active member of her community. She served on the Board of Directors of the Regina Jazz Society, the Wascana Country Club, the Rotary Club in Cochrane and Villas Glen Eagles where she lived.

As you go forward in life, you will identify Brenda in others. When you see a beautiful smile, you will remember that Brenda only spoke kind words. When you see knowing eyes, you will remember that Brenda only saw the best in you. When you see a poised stance, you will remember that Brenda knew she never walked alone. When you see the world transforming, you will remember all the lives Brenda touched. And as we were touched, let us touch others in Brenda’s memory.

Surviving relatives include her sister Mary Lou Bell and Mary Lou’s husband Dudley; as well as nieces and nephews, Cassie, David, Peter, Jimmy, Jill, Lyn, and Ben; stepchildren, Bill, Cindy, Bob, and Tom; and her grandchildren. Her family also included her beloved dogs, Aggie and Willie. Brenda was predeceased by her parents Benjamin and Ida; her brother, James; and her husband Ted Yarnton.

Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral (219 – 18th Avenue S.W.) on Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. The mass will include communion and a celebration of Brenda’s life will be held in the adjoining church hall. All musicians are asked to bring an instrument to add to the joy of this celebration of Brenda’s life. Wherever you are on Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 10:00 a.m., we ask that you please take a moment to reflect on Brenda’s life and feel joy. You may forward condolences through If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Canadian Cancer Society, 200, 325 Manning Road NE, Calgary, AB T2E 2P5 Telephone: (403) 205-3966.

In living memory of Brenda McAlpine, a tree will be planted at Big Hill Springs Park, Cochrane by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Crowfoot Chapel, 82 Crowfoot Circle N.W. Telephone: (403) 241-0044.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Gaye Taylor :

    Brenda was my golf partner and friend for many years. Our group used to play in the Champagne Classic to benefit the Hospitals of Regina. Brenda came back to Regina after her move to Alberta to play in the Classic with us one last time. That summer was her first encounter with cancer.
    She also was close with my family. My parents inherited her cat, Shelby, when she moved and she used to have wonderful visits with them.
    It is hard to believe that I won’t see her again. She was a very special person and touched many lives. I will miss her very much.

    Gaye and Bill Taylor

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  2. I worked with Brenda at Martin Collegiate from September of 2000 to her retirement in June of 2002. We went on our annual band/choir trip together in the Spring of 2002. In the Martin yearbook, there is a picture of Cheryl Scherle, Brenda, and myself in front of Bow Falls in Banff that I love. I was in awe of Brenda even before I worked with her. She had such a passion for life, for music, and in her last few years, her faith. We connected over all those things. It was a great honour to work with her and to know her, even if that knowing was a way too brief. She was an incredible woman. The world has lost a tremendous human being. However, if I know Brenda, I am sure she’ll be jazzing it up in heaven, and God will be so delighted with this beautiful life. Well done, Brenda.

    Gwen Edey

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  3. Andrea Ric Sinclair :

    Mrs. McAlpine was was truly an inspiration to so many kids. I went to Sheldon Williams in Regina from 80-84 and in that time was part of 8 musical and various competing jazz choirs. Our school was known for its tremendous music and art programs. She was incredibly energetic and consumed with teaching everything she could to anyone who wanted to learn. I know that I always think of her when I hear Ella Fitzgerald or Bobby McFerrin. Rest in Peace Brenda McAlpine. Respectfully, Andrea

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  4. I first met Brenda as a music student of hers at Sheldon Williams Collegiate from 1979-1983. Brenda’s passion for music was intense and extremely contagious. She had a huge influence on all her students, many of us who decided to make music our life’s work because of her. Thanks so much for everything Brenda.

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  5. Derek Begin :

    Brenda was a member of the Rotary Club of Cochrane, she was active with the club acting as secretary for two years. Through the several different events I got to know her more, she lead a interesting life and really enjoyed poking fun at us about her Sask Roughriders whenever there was an opportunity. Brenda congratulations on a great life well lived and we are all going to miss you.

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  6. Danielle Dufour Erriha :

    I just wanted to pass on my deepest sympathy to Mrs McAlpines family. I was once apon a time (18 years ago) a student of Brenda’s at Martin Collegiate. She inspired me greatly through her love and pure talent for music…she brought out the best in my musical ability and made it FUN to be involved in the bands, choirs, musicals…a great woman. She encouraged me and for that, I will remember her always and be eternally thankful. God Bless Brenda for having been one of those ‘great’ someones that came into our lives unexpectedly. My prayers will be with you all.

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  7. Gordon Wicijowski and family :

    To Brenda’s family and special friends:
    Brenda was Ardella’s best friend and considered a part of our family. She was a source of friendship and spiritual guidance to all of us. She was so fortunate to have such wonderful friends (Angels) and family during her stay in the hospital and hospice. We will all miss her terribly but she will continue on in our prayers and thoughts.
    Gordon, Tim, Laurice, Wendy, Stu, Marlene, and her 8 adopted grandchildren.

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  8. Tilden Webb :

    Brenda was my music teacher at Sheldon Williams Collegiate in Regina from 1984-1988.
    She was an incredible educator as well as a great and versatile musician. She provided such a wonderful atmosphere for us young musicians to learn – the perfect balance of guidance and freedom. I feel that my own career as a musician is due largely to her music program.
    I am so privileged to have known Brenda and I will miss her very much. She was an amazing person.
    My deepest condolences go out to Brenda’s family.

    Tilden Webb

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  9. Harvey Fedyk :

    I have fond memories of Brenda in Regina as we were on the same Knowledge quest. Now you Know. Please say hi to Ted for me. Please tell him that I still “check my motives”.
    Harvey Fedyk

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  10. pamela taylor :

    Condolences to the family. Brenda was an inspiration to my daughter Dione Taylor from Regina when she started her carees in music. Brenda was a joy to be around. I always appreciated her smile. May the Lord grant you all strength and courage in your time of grieving.
    I will keep you in my prayers

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  11. Richard Condon :

    On behalf of the staff and students of Bowness High School, and from Brenda’s colleagues in the Fine and Performing Arts Dept. at the school, I would like to extend my sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of Brenda McAlpine. In the short time she was at Bowness HS, she had an enormous impact on the music students, and brought our choral and vocal jazz groups to new levels. In her guitar class, the students were taught the basics, and then were encouraged to explore many styles, and apply it to all the music they liked. It was very apparent Brenda had a passion for music, and a love of teaching music to her students.
    No matter who needed to talk to her, Brenda’s ability to just listen and offer comfort and guidance, provided not only students, but some of our staff with a sense of well-being.
    I feel fortunate to have worked with, and gotten to know Brenda before she got sick. I am sorry I am unable to pay my respects in person, but please be assured I am thinking of her and will be there in spirit on Tuesday at the memorial.

    With Love and Respect,

    Richard and Judy Condon

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  12. David and Sharol Evans :

    I have fond memories of working with Brenda on many musicals at Sheldon-Williams Collegiate. These were times of great joy, energy and enthusiasm. Brenda inspired the students to always give their best.

    I have fond memories as well of Brenda’s many enthusiasms. She was among one of the first on staff to buy the new computers. When she became fascinated with philosophy she would challenge me each day at school to discuss the latest philosopher she was studying.

    Brenda loved life with a passion and she will be sadly missed.

    Since Brenda loved philosophy and music was her world, the words of Plato seem very apt.

    Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.

    David Evans

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  13. As a student she made going to school each day possible, and brought music into my life in a new way. One of the reasons I survived high school was that I was allowed to hang out in her music room.

    Thanks and may the rest of your journey be filled with love and peace..

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  14. Kim (Evans) Bjornsson :

    Although I was only a student of Brenda’s for two years at Sheldon-Williams Collegiate, I have many great memories of her. She had the greatest enthusiasm for a best effort at anything, and although she demanded hard work she rewarded it too.

    I loved her smile and her unbridled enjoyment in music and life.

    Rest well.

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  15. Catherine Arsenault :

    I had the honor of being taught by Ms. McAlpine at Bowness High School, during her last year of teaching.

    We had the same spare. So I would join her in front of the piano spending the hour singing jazz, talking, laughing about the high note she could no longer hit, and the notes I would never be able to reach.

    She taught me an important lesson:
    Whether you sing well or not, the important thing is that you sing.

    I promise to sing loud for you. I know that you will hear me and that radiant smile of yours will cross your face once again.

    You are such an amazing woman.

    I feel sorry for everyone who did not have you in their life.


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  16. Greg Dukart :

    Brenda was a wonderful lady and she will be sadly missed by all her friends here at the Wascana Country Club.

    Greg Dukart
    General Manager

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  17. Karen Crosby :

    I was fortunate to know Brenda from the Mount Saint Francis Retreat Centre near Cochrane, AB. She was a warm, caring, courageous person who shared her life as she lead us on a spiritual journey at the twilight retreats. I especially loved the meditations she lead to close out the evening. The music and lyrics were always a powerful way to summarize her thoughts and beliefs.
    My sincere condolences to family and friends.

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  18. Merle and Stan Webb :

    Our sincere sympathy to Brenda’s family. We were truly saddened at the news of Brenda’s passing. She was a remarkable person, musician and educator. As parents, we saw what an excellent relationship she had with her students at Sheldon Williams Collegiate, Regina, and what an inspiration she was to them. She has touched the lives of so many people and will be greatly missed.

    Merle and Stan

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  19. ena spalding :

    Brenda had a great sense of humour and a wonderful spirit – I am very glad to have had the opportunity to walk the fairways with her. My condolences to family and friends.

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  20. Jean-François Godet-Calogeras :

    It is with great sadness that my wife Athena and I received the news of Brenda’s death. I had the privilege to be one of her teachers in Franciscan studies here at Saint Bonaventure University. We became friends and she stayed with us during the summer of 2005 while finishing her studies. Brenda was a beautiful human being, so warm and caring, so true and honest, and a great musician. We miss her friendship and express our deep condolences to her family.

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  21. Pat Lawson and Barbara Dorsey :

    We were so sorry to read of Brenda’s untimely death. We had many great golfing experiences together. She died far too young.

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  22. Courteney & Dagan Dawson :

    Our deepest sympathies go out to Mrs. McAlpine’s family. My husband and I had the honour of attending Martin Collegiate in Regina, Sask. where Mrs. McAlpine was a fabulous music teacher!

    She will be dearly missed, and her family is in our prayers!

    Courteney (Moroschan) & Dagan Dawson

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  23. Jeff O'Brien :

    Although I never took classes from Mrs. McAlpine, I was pleased to have been involved in the yearly operettas at Sheldon Williams Collegiate, 1976-1980, under her strict tutelage. I remember them and her well. Thanks.

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  24. Angela Galenzoski :

    Mrs. McAlpine shaped my confidence my belief system and help me follow a path I had always dreamt of. A musical life as a performer, actress, singer and artist.
    First meeting her as my gym teacher in Grade 9 she quickly saw my lack of self worth camouflaged with a facade of false confidence and attitude.
    Loving music I joined here choir, not having the confidence in myself to really try she put a stop to my tentative squeaky voice ruining the sound of her choir by subtly asking me to turn the sheet music at the piano. Not wanting to be a Target for the mean girls ( and mean boys) and being a person who’d easily get hurt I’d rarely had the confidence to put myself in a position to fail, be laughed at, mocked or criticized. So the fact I loved and wanted to perform & sing was not common knowledge.
    Then, along with Mrs Cameron, our guidance counselor, she helped chaperones a week-long seminar for students in peer support at St Michael’s retreat in Lumsden. There my life really took a turn for the better with her guiding hand.
    She shared a personal side if her life that other teachers would never. It felt like helping me, whatever it took, was worth the it. She made me feel trusted. And just maybe she thought I had substance and getting through to me and helping me was worth the risk.
    It was during this retreat that I learnt what it felt like to have someone honestly believe in me. Support and encouragement, not because she was getting something out of it but because she just believed in me.
    I gained enough Trust in her and confidence in myself to pull her aside once we were back at school so she could really hear me sing for the first time.
    While singing Hero by Mariah Carey she suddenly stopped after the third verse and ask me who I was and what happened to Angela? Quickly reminding me of my role turning pages of sheet music in her choir. I told her while cleaning bathrooms at work I’d practice because I was alone and the Acoustics in the bathroom were amazing.
    Laughing and with sincere excitement she says “You are trying out for the musical this year aren’t you? I already know you can act and have no problems with lines .” Then went on to explain she knew at that moment exactly what role I’d play and what songs I’d be singing but couldn’t tell me until after Auditions ;-).
    Until her, my Drama teacher mr. Kaywood, and my guidance counselor in Mrs Cameron the totality of encouragement and or support I got was critical cringed facial expressions, and being told not to embarrass myself, everybody thinks they can sing. As well as the occasional passive and dismissive approval by friends. Now I had a music teacher I trusted and more than respected believing in me.
    I’m sure I’m not the only young person whose life she touched. Her influence was critical and crucial in the shaping and inspiring decisions that were crucial in creating the happiest and most of fulfilling parts of my life.
    But the most memorable thing she ever said to me was after she charged me with the responsibility of making the posters for my first musical Godspell.. She put a piece of posterboard in front of me and the cover of our Playbook saying I heard you could draw. Returning 20 minutes later she stood behind me put her hands on both my shoulders and said “is there anything you can’t do?”
    I’d remembered those words anytime life got scary and my confidence was low. It was her words always got me through.
    An amazing teacher, mentor, and friend.

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