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WILK, Reta Elizabeth (nee Speers)

May 8, 1917 – Edmonton, Alberta

December 20, 2014 – Calgary, Alberta

Reta passed away peacefully in Calgary on Saturday, December 20, 2014 at the age of 97.

Reta is survived by several nieces and nephews as well as grand-nieces and grand-nephews. She was predeceased by her husband Stephen in 2006.

Born in Edmonton to Irish immigrants George and Annie Speers (nee Kennedy), Reta and her siblings, Emmett, Doreen and Kay were orphaned in 1920, toward the end of the global flu pandemic. Reta received her primary and secondary education in Edmonton, and attended teacher training at Edmonton Normal School before working at a one room schoolhouse in Neerlandia. She went on to demonstration teaching at the University of Alberta Elementary School and later teaching the hard-of-hearing at Garneau Elementary School. During this time period, she also taught overseas, a year in Manchester, England and two years in Metz, France. Reta met Stephen Wilk in Calgary, and the couple married in June 1958. After four years in Airdrie, where Stephen served as a minister at the United Church, the couple moved to Calgary in 1962 where Stephen continued serving as a minister. Reta taught speech arts at Mount Royal College and speech to the hard-of-hearing while pursuing her hobbies of choral singing and knitting. Their Calgary sojourn was interrupted in the mid-1960s by a fundraising project for the United Church requiring them to live in various locations across Canada. Reta was talkative, cheerful, dignified and gracious, proper but with a twinkle and a sense of humour. She loved knitting, quilting, visiting, games, spending time at the Rushmere cottage, doting on her nieces and nephews, and then grand-nieces and grand-nephews that accumulated over the many years of her long life. Reta will be fondly remembered by her many family members and friends.

A Memorial Service will be held at Renfrew United Church (956 Radnor Avenue N.E.) on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. Condolences may be forwarded through  If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Renfrew United Church, 956 Radnor Avenue N.E., Calgary, AB  T2E 5H5.

In living memory of Reta Wilk, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Chapel of the Bells, 2720 CENTRE STREET NORTH, Telephone:  403-276-2296.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Dorothy McCreary :

    I got to know Reta and Stephen when my late husband, Brian was involved with the Nose Creek Historical Society and they met prior and when the history book was published. Reta touched all whom she met and I always admired her creative talents. She will be sadly missed.

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    My condolences upon the passing of Rita Wilk.
    -Peter Pallesen

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    My condolences upon the recent passing of Mrs. Rita Wilk.
    -Peter Pallesen

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  4. Grace Nicolai :

    I am so sorry to hear that my favorite grade one teacher has passed on. My sincere condolences.
    My name is Grace . I lived in Neerlandia and Miss Speers was my Grade one teacher.
    She will remain in my thoughts always.

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  5. Marilyn McPherson :

    Miss Speers was my Grade Five teacher at the University Demonstration School. Her “Speech Explorer”program at CKUA gave me the confidence to speak in public. Until Grade Five I had been a shy, very average student with very little self confidence. Miss Speers turned my life around that year. She encouraged me to try new things and to take leadership roles. She was by far the best teacher I ever had. I would have loved to tell her how important she was to my life. May she rest in peace.

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