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DAWSON, Gynell

January 12, 1920 – Claresholm, Alberta
January 10, 2019 – Calgary, Alberta

It is with deep sadness that the family of Gynell Dawson (nee Anderson), announce her peaceful passing on Thursday, January 10, 2019, just two days short of her 99th birthday.

Gynell is survived by her adoring daughter Cathy and son-in-law Rene Proulx of Calgary, her two very special grandchildren and her four wonderful great-granddaughters; grandson, Ryan (Shea) Proulx and their children Alice and Lucy; and granddaughter, Natalie (Jeff Dube) Proulx and their children Adina and Sadie. She is also survived by her sisters-in-law, Irene Anderson, Trese Ruhmor, Vi Craik, and Fran (Chuck) Shannon, as well as numerous very loving and adoring nephews and nieces.

Gynell was born and raised in Claresholm, AB, and was the second youngest of the nine children. Their father built their home in Claresholm which tragically burnt down when Gynell was six. Thankfully no one was injured however all the family heirlooms from Norway were lost in the fire. Their home was re-built and they lived a very happy fruitful life until the mid thirty’s when times were tough for all farmers. After her father Freeman passed away in 1936, the family moved to Calgary. Gynell attended Western Canada High School and at that time lived on a fox farm on the outskirts of Calgary. She continued her education in Toronto to become a dental assistant. Gynell was a very talented and experienced horseback rider and rode in the Calgary Stampede Parade numerous times. She was even part of the entourage of fans that went by train to the Grey Cup Game in Toronto in 1948. Gynell often helped her brother, Ira, at his weekend barn dances at the Curry Riding Academy and Barn which was situated where Viscount Bennett was later built. It was there that Bob’s sister Vi introduced him to Gynell. Bob and Gynell eloped in Banff on January 20, 1951. In 1958 Bob and Gynell built their cherished family cabin on Windermere Lake, B.C. The cabin continues to be the scene for countless gatherings, holidays and memories for not only the family, but also their wonderful neighbours and close friends. At the cabin, Gynell was often found in the garden, cooking up a storm, always entertaining, and playing games with the kids, grandkids, great-grandkids and friends.

Over the years, Gynell was honored with pins for twenty-five, thirty and forty plus years of service with many charitable organizations for her generosity of time and spirit. Her contributions are too many to name, but a few were delivering meals weekly for Meals on Wheels for over twenty years, volunteered and canvased for the Cancer Society, Heart Fund, Lung Association, and many others. She helped initiate a weekly bingo afternoon for the residents of the Sarcee Hospital, which has continued for over fifty years, and was on the Board of Directors of the Foothills Hospital for ten years during which time the Tom Baker Cancer Centre was opened. In addition, Gynell was a devoted member of her church, a proud member of Beta Sigma Phi, and a very active member of the Rotary Club of Calgary South starting in the mid fifty’s. Gynell and Bob hosted many Rotary exchange students as well as visiting Rotarians from all over the world, once even hosting the President of Rotary International. They hosted numerous parties, always filling the house with laughter, great fun, good conversation and incredible food. Childhood Christmas’s for Brent and Cathy included dinner for forty to fifty family members and they always welcomed friends who didn’t have family nearby. After cooking a delicious meal, Gynell, without ever learning to read a note of music, would sit down at the piano and get the parties really going with any song, creating beautiful music, and encouraging fun sing-a-longs and enthusiastic dancing. She always enjoyed a game of cards and regularly took part in games of crib and bridge well into her ninety’s, rarely losing a game it seemed.

Bob and Gynell were always surrounded by wonderful friends and neighbours, on Stanley Drive, Bel Aire, and at the Grandview. Besides lots of fun times with immediate and extended family, friends from all walks of life socialized with Bob and Gynell at the South Calgary Rotary Club, Elks Club, Calgary Golf & Country Club, Ranchmen’s Club, and the Happy Hearts of Stanley Drive, which continued to gather for over forty-five years. Gynell obtained her power squadron license to drive and navigate boats twenty to sixty feet in length, which came in handy with their frequent trips on the west coast in their boat, “The Mutineer”. Although both Bob and Gynell came from tough and humble beginnings, together with much hard work and perseverance they built and lived a large, full life. Gynell was proud to be part of their successful endeavors including the building of The Springs at Radium and McKenzie Meadows golf courses of which she served on the Board of Directors for many years. The two traveled the world and socialized as much as time would permit. Gynell was always dressed to the nines, and ready to take on the town, or to invite the world into their home or cabin.

In her later years, after her beloved Bob passed away in 2003, and Gynell’s eyesight started to fail, Gynell had the great blessing of meeting her caregiver, Vicky Lazaro, who lived with her for ten years, in which time she became a part of the family. Vicky lovingly cared for her and made it possible for her to live at home until she was ninety-eight. This was an incredible blessing which allowed her to continue to travel, spend time at the cabin, and have many celebrations with her family and friends in her home. Always up for a friendly but fierce game of smear or crib, Gynell was renowned for her quick wit. Her kindness, generosity and her deep love of her family and friends are a legacy that will continue to inspire those who knew her. Gynell was always looking for ways to brighten the days of anyone around her and was always willing to lend a helping hand. She will be very fondly remembered and desperately missed forever by her family and all those who loved and admired her.

Gynell is predeceased by her beloved husband of fifty-two years, Robert John (Bob) Dawson; her parents, Freeman and Ida Anderson; her dearly loved son Brent and infant son Jamie; and her siblings Irene, Willie, Ira, Blanche, Ona, Rolf, Bob, Duke; sisters and brothers-in-law James (Kay) Dawson, Lil (Roy) Thompson, Bas Craik, and Laura Anderson.

As philanthropy was an important aspect of Gynell’s life, in lieu of flowers, please volunteer the gift of your time, or monetarily to the charity of your choice. Some of hers were the Rotary Club of Calgary South, Shaw Charity Classic Foundation, Calgary Health Trust, but she would be thrilled with a donation to any charity of your choosing.

A Memorial Service will be held in the Spring of 2019. Announcements later by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Park Memorial, 5008 Elbow Drive S.W., Calgary, AB T2S 2L5, Telephone: 403-243-8200. A Private Family Graveside Service will be held at Union Cemetery at a later date. Condolences may be forwarded through www.mcinnisandholloway.com.

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

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Condolence Messages

  1. What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful human being – my dear Gynell! She will be sadly missed by so many of her loyal & loving friends. My thoughts & prayers are with you now, Cathy.

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  2. Patricia Farn :

    Gynell was an integral part of Calgary South Rotary Partners. She is a role model for selfless giving. We will treasure her memory.

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  3. Hi Cathy,

    Please know what a special person your Mom was to me as a child growing up. She was always smiling and I can still remember her laughter. Her musical talents were evident when she would play the piano as her music filled the house. She had a way of making us all feel loved. I know you will miss her Cathy. Losing a Mom at any age is difficult!
    Love
    Shauna (Fleming) Shaw

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  4. Hi Cathy,
    Gary and I are sending you and your family our sincere condolences.
    When I think of your mom I smile remembering the day she invited me to be her golf partner at the Springs on ladies day several years ago. I had only golfed a few times and it took a lot of swings to get the ball to the next green. She was patient, kind and funny , and it was all about being with friends and having a wonderful afternoon on the course.
    Our thoughts are with you.
    Bonnie and Gary Emmerson.

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  5. Sending condolences to the family on that loss of such a wonderful woman. Tammy Allan and Chick Elliott (Shea’s Aunt).

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  6. Robert Jordan :

    Cathy, Rene. Ryan and Natalie and Family
    We are so sorry to hear of Gynell’s passing. Purely a life well lived. She will live on in your hearts and those of your family and friends.
    Prayers and our sympathies:
    Candy and Bob Jordan

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  7. My condolences Cathy to you and your family. Your mother was so kind and I have fond memories of her and your father. She was very good to me so many years ago and showed incredible strength during such a sad time of losing Brent. I will always remember her and your family as wonderful, caring and giving. My thoughts are with you during this time. Laurie LePan

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  8. Sirene Railton :

    You were a beautiful soul. So kind and loving and always saw the positive in everything. I will miss you very much and I will miss our conversations. You were very special to me. But now you can be with Jesus and the rest of your dearest loved ones. I will see you one day again. I love you Aunty.

    My condolences to her family during this difficult time.

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  9. Mike and Anne Rogers :

    Cathy, Rene, Ryan, Natalie and families,
    We were so saddened to learn about Gynell’s passing. She lived an incredible life and we know how much she was loved and will be dearly missed. Our hearts go out to you at the sad and difficult time.

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