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MATTHEWS, Angela Alice (nee Abrey)

September 24, 1924 – London, England
April 13, 2019 – Calgary, Alberta

A Celebration of Life for Angela will be held at Wild Rose United Church (1317 1st Street NW), on April 23, 2019 at 11 am. Parking restrictions around the church have been lifted. In Memory of Angela, donations may be made to Wild Rose United Church Memorial Fund or to a charity of your choice. In honor of Angela’s love of color, you are invited to wear brightly colored clothing.

Tribute to Angela Alice Matthews
Born Angela Alice, her second name came from her mother’s best friend who was also her god mother – Alice May Ryder (later Castell). She first lived as a child at 103 Coppetts Road in Muswell Hill, London England. It was a pale yellow brick row house with a small front garden, a long narrow back garden that had one lovely cherry tree.

Her parents were Flora and William Abrey. A memory of her mother was lying in bed when Shirley was born with a coal fire in the bedroom. She had fallen and hurt her knee. Her mum had to get the gravel out with a needle while she ate red-currents. Her father was away a great deal because he was a private chauffeur.

Her eldest brother, Cyril “Son” William Abrey, was born on May 11th, 1914. Next oldest was sister Magdalen Flora who went by “Madge” and who was born December 13th, 1919. Gerald “Boyk” John who went by “Boyk” was born on November 25th, 1921. In the birth order, this is when Angela was born. Her nickname was “Radiator” or “Red Hot Poker” because she got so hot and red faced but she disliked the names and they fell out of use. Stella Rosemary was born May 24th, 1927. Stella married Aubrey Lewis. Finally, Shirley Margret was the baby born on January 14th, 1934.

When Angela became close friends with Betty Austin, she also became a special sister to Betty’s siblings Joan Fayter and Jack Austin. Before losing her brothers in the war, Angela had many happy memories playing ball against the house on the back-garden stones or in the nearby park “over the fields”. She remembered being given a brown-eyes doll for her birthday. She also remembered playing with her siblings and the cat Tiger. There was also a goldfish. Since they did not have a TV, or even a radio, she remembers amusing her self by playing Snakes & Ladders, Tiddlywinks, tag, hide & seek, and skipping rope. Sadly, Stella passed away on January 16th, 1987 from cancer following Cyril and Gerald who died in service to their country.

As a child, her best friend was Frances Whitehead, better known as Midge and who was also nicknamed “Titch”. In high-school, her favourite friends were Elsie Bright, Joan Hiatt, Barbara Wilson and Olwen Jessie. She remembered biking with them but because she had an older more old-fashioned bike she found it hard to keep up with them and their new bikes. As an adult she loved playing bridge, traveling and visiting with her long-time friends in Canada. As an adult, her friends were Vera Vignola, Vera’s sister, Madelen, Eileen Kirkby, Phyllis Tufts, Jean Taylor, Ethel Wilcox, Betty Smith, Betty Murray and Betty Austin who was the reason she traveled to Canada. She loved them all, but always thought of sister Madge as her best friend. As a dear friend said, “A beautiful, kind, compassionate, and strong woman, Angela is what love and grace look like”.

She immigrated to Canada in 1950 and was particularly proud of her Canadian Citizenship Ceremony.

Beloved wife to the late Eric “Bob” Matthews, Angela married Bob in 1959. They first met through Betty Austin who was Angela’s pen pal. Betty was Bob’s first wife. When Angela and Bob first met she was twenty four and he was twenty five. Sadly, Betty died from cancer. Through the sadness a romance grew and Bob and Angela got married on Saturday, February 14, at Northminster United Church. She was wearing an off-white wool, boucle dress, a pink coral feathered hat and similar coloured shoes. Present were Bob’s witness, his brother Ron and his wife Gladys; Angela’s witness, her friend, Vera Vignola. Also present were Bob and Betty’s daughters Susan and Anne Matthews. The Reverend Donald H. Parr was the officiant. Angela remembers there were two large red and white flower arrangements on stands (ready for the next wedding). They later honeymooned in Great Falls, Montana for five days. Her favourite wedding presents were a French Provincial coffee table given to them by Northminster United Church and two coffee tables given by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Matthews and “Auntie Alice”. Together the newlyweds brought a house, drapes with kitchen and bedroom furniture.

In 1959, Bob and Angela moved to 20 Rosewood Road where she lived until 1987. Here she raised Susan and Anne and went on to have Kathleen and Gerald. Angela was an exceptionally loving, kind and supportive mother. Susan Joan grew up to marry Les Crowdis. (Betty) Anne grew up to fall in love and marry William Bawtinhimer, who goes by Wil or Bill. Kathleen Mary married Lance Hartwell and Gerald William married Caroline Russell-King.

Her sister Stella had for daughters: Vicki, Brenda, Rhoda and Audrey. Angela was a devoted aunt. Even though she lived a world away she always remembered birthdays and sent letters and notes and traveled to England to see them as often as she could. Her albums were sprinkled with their happy faces over the years.

Angela was very welcoming and accepting of her three sons in law and one daughter in law: Les Crowdis, William Bawtinhimer, Lance Hartwell, and Caroline Russell-King.

Angela had eight beloved grandchildren. Susan’s children: eldest Tracy Shields (Vaughan Shields) now lives in Irricana, James Crowdis (Jill Crowdis)  in Calgary, and Scott Crowdis (Crystal Lawton) of Kelowna. Anne’s children: Corrine Bawtinhimer Mason (Jodde Mason) of Calgary and Ashley Bawtinhimer who lives in Cochrane. Kathleen’s children, Alyssa and Austin Hartwell live in Calgary.
Gerald’s daughter, Emma Matthews lives in Calgary.

Alyssa writes “Angela was an exceptional grandmother who loved her grandchildren without limits. Gramma was dependable, encouraged us to be curious about the world, to expand our knowledge, and to do unto others as we would have done unto us. She always had something fun to do with us whether it was playing cards, going for a walk, treating us to ice cream, letting us skip rope in her front room, finding the thimble, or having us over for sleepovers. Gramma had a way of being that made her a safe place to hide, letting us talk to her about whatever crossed our minds, and tenderly took care of us when we needed her the most. She had a way of teaching us that everything in life is an adventure and to find the humor in any situation. Gramma was always a pleasure to visit and spend time with, to drink tea with, and to learn from. She led by example and is undoubtedly one of the kindest people you could ever hope to meet. Life without her is going to be incredibly difficult, and yet we have been lucky enough to have learned many of life’s greatest lessons from and through her. We will continue to go on and live our lives each day, the way she would want us to: loving and accepting others, practicing kindness and understanding, being as strong and courageous as we know her to be, and doing our best to make her proud in everything we do.”

Great Grandmother
Angela cherished her four great-grandchildren: Kaitlyn Shields (married Branden Dustin in 2016; Angela spoke at their wedding), Suzanne Shields, and Keaton and Sophia Crowdis.

Angela was a devout Christian and was very active in her community of faith. She first attended St. James Church of England on Fortis Green Road in Muswell Hill under the Reverend E.A. Dunn as a child. Prayer was a part of her school environment. She recalled playing “Peace” in a pageant on Empire Day. Kathleen writes, “Mom was a woman of deep faith, conviction, and love. She led an extensive church life by being attending Northminster United Church, Pleasant Heights United Church, and Wild Rose United Church. She was involved with Canadian Girls in Training, (CGIT), United Church Women (UCW), and on various boards and committees. She was especially interested in the Memorial Committee and Archives committee. She read her Bible almost daily and said she studied it with her mind as well as her heart. She said grace at all her meals. She said she only questioned her religion in various times of stress and especially during the war. She also studied the Jewish religion through church study groups.”

Her first job was in her grandparent’s laundry where she helped with the ironing by smoothing the handkerchiefs! These were then delivered by her grandfather in a wicker basket on a tricycle. In high school she was a potato picker on a farm and with her first ever earnings she bought a hairbrush. After leaving school she recalls Mary Birchall was her first boss. She remembered co-workers Hilda Jackaman and Audrey Dowling when she was a costing clerk at International Chemical Company. Helping with figures related to costing products and running errands. After the war, she worked at Pullman Spring Filled Co. Ltd. as a draftswoman after taking a government training program. She worked as a typist at the Mitchell Engineering Ltd and a shorthand typist at the Woodall Duckan Vertical Resort and Oven Construction Company. In Canada, she temped at Hornibrook and Powles Insurance for three weeks and then moved to the California Standard Company as a personnel clerk. Her mother told the spectacular young girl she would have to make a living with her brain since she was not good at doing things with her hands!

She was kind to everyone she met and generously shared her time and talents with her community. Volunteering was a huge part of her life. After the death of her husband, she joined the Calgary Widowed Services and worked earnestly with the Canadian Cancer Society. She spoke publicly for both organizations. For fifteen years, she delivered food to senior citizens who were unable to cook for themselves with Meals on Wheels. With her love of books, the Confederation Park Library was a natural fit. She was very active in many events with the United Church serving on committees and as an archivist. She also worked with the Desk and Derrick Club, Sandstone Valley Community Association, Sandstone Horizon Village Board of Directors, Friends of Nose Hill, and the Canadian Badlands Passion Play. She was recognized with various certificates and awards. She was featured in the Dec 24th, 1983 Calgary Herald in conjunction with the Calgary Widowed Services and was interviewed on TV with Jena Phythian as part of the anniversary of CGIT’s Seventieth Anniversary.

Political activist
Angela worked tirelessly on several campaigns for the Alberta Liberal Party much to the delight and chagrin of her family members. She wrote that her political party was, “Alberta Liberal Party – change from free spending – now penny-pinching conservatives”. In 1994, she backed Yolande Gagnon for Alberta Liberal Party by helping in the campaign offices.

Being born in 1924 meant that for the first five years of her life she, and every woman in the Commonwealth, were not legally considered a person. Maybe it was when Angela found out about this that she became a member of the Famous Five Foundation. The Famous Five were suffragists who fought to be legally recognized as persons. They wanted to be able to own property, vote, participate in all levels of government, and make decisions about their lives without consulting men.

Angela worked with a group of powerful and influential women in the 2000’s to raise statues in memory of the Famous Five. One set of statues is in Calgary on 8th Avenue; the other is in Ottawa. Angela met the artist and toured her studio. Later, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Caroline, she attended the unveiling of the statues on Parliament Hill by Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Governor General Adrien Clarkson. As part of the ceremonies she attended discussion panels, pink teas, and gala parties. One of the parties was attended by all the female senators and other female politicians — Angela fit right in.

As a child, Angela had to wear her regular green tunic school uniform as much as possible. She was given a grey dress by a neighbor one Christmas. Maybe this led to her love of clothes when she was older. She had a favourite fur coat, enjoyed wildly pattered pantyhose, and collected hats. So many hats. She also loved fancy dress and there are many photos of her in costume. The first costume she ever made was as a child. She borrowed a white dress, white apron and cap. Then she cut out a red cross from a tin of “Zubes” throat sweets so that she could be a nurse.

Traveler and Adventurer
Angela was the family’s official tour guide when travelers came to town, but equally loved travelling herself. Her first big adventure came when she was evacuated under threat of German bomber raids to Great Gransden in Bedfordshire; then (at her insistence) to Wolverton in Buckinghamshire. This probably formed her identity – adventurous, independent, and strong. Back at school in her academic years, she was awarded a French prize which turned out to be a French dictionary (which she kept for decades). She really wanted a trip to France, which had to be cancelled due to the war. She did however take day trips with her family to Southend-On-Sea by train. Angela was very excited to take her first plane ride to Canada refueling in Iceland and stopping in Gander (where she was offered two eggs for breakfast!) She traveled to Japan in 1958 and brought back many lovely souvenirs. She traveled, of course, many times back to the UK; once with Kathleen and Gerald in 1972 and later with Susan and Les. She also went to Greece with Madge. She globe trotted to New Zealand, Alaska and San Francisco. Of course, she explored her adopted country too. She traveled all over Canada from the Maritimes to Victoria and north to Yellowknife. She traveled by ship, boat, train, car, coach and hot air balloon. She says her most memorable sights were the Canadian Rockies, Milford Sound in New Zealand and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone river.

Chronicler (and researcher)
Always inquisitive and very bright, Angela was one of two girls in her school to pass her exams with such success that she was awarded a Pauncefort scholarship. This was valued at five pounds per annum for three years, which was quite a handsome sum at the time. Then, she left her small one-story brick school for Tollington High School. She loved all her high school subjects except gymnastics, games, art, and needlework. Over the course of her ninety four years she created over one hundred scrapbooks, researching the places that she traveled to, including receipts, notes on mileage, brochures, hotel memorabilia and thousands of photographs. Photos were one of her passions — scenery, people, animals, and activities of all sorts.

There are so many photos of Angela cutting cakes! She loved a celebration! She loved planning and dressing up. When she was younger, she played the piano “just beginner tunes”. She remembers the “Moving into first suite” shower by the Austin family and being given old and new gifts. There were two pieces of luggage given to her in 1950 for her return trip to England. She remembers her wedding shower with the eclectic pressure cooker and a book. She said her most memorable was her seventieth birthday part which was surprise a day early at Caroline and Gerald’s home. She thought she had been asked to babysit. She also volunteered to plan parities for friends and various hosting of committees and dinner meetings. She rejoiced at every wedding.

Angela wrote that her favourite toy was “books”, a special favourite being Anne of Green Gables. This is interesting because Anne was all alone in the world and Angela felt that way to when the bombs were reigning down on the city of London and for the children’s safety her parents decided to evacuate the girls to the country. Madge and Stella were billeted together in the same town. Angela was separated from her sisters and had to stay with strangers by herself. She reminisced that she hated the first family and threatened to run away until the coordinator re-housed the willful child into a family that she felt was better suited. She loved to read and her favourite books were biographies, mystery, travel and religious when she was in her study. She loved being surrounded by books and worked the Confederation Park Library and as volunteer librarian at the Harbours when she was eighty eight. When asked what her favourite activities were, she replied, “walking and reading”.

She was a great woman and she lived a great life. She loved and was loved back. She will be missed.

Angela’s ashes were interred Queens Park Cemetery. In living memory of Angela Matthews, a tree was planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park. Her DNA, memories and love, live on.


Offer Condolence for the family of MATTHEWS, Angela Alice (nee Abrey)

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Condolence Messages

  1. Anne Bawtinhimer

    The Broken Chain
    “We little knew that morning that God was going to call your name,
    In life we loved you dearly, in death we do the same.
    It broke our hearts to lose you, you did not go alone, for part of us went with you, the day God called you home.
    You left us peaceful memories, your love is still our guide;
    And though we can not see you, you are always at our side.
    Our family chain is broken, and nothing seems the same; but as God calls us one by one, the chain will link again.”

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  2. Rob Crowdis, Kevin and Tara ...

    Our deepest sympathy and condolances in this sorrowfull time on the unimanigable loss of such a beautifull Lady and Soul in every way. May the memories of the times you all shared with her help to brighten your days and hearts as the days pass by. No words can take away the pain and sorrow, … but know Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with you all…
    Rob, Kevin, and Tara

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  3. I have been so blessed to have had such a strong amazing woman like Grandma Angela in my life. She was an awesome woman that touched so many lives and always was there with a smile, love and words of support. Grandma loved sharing her stories from her childhood and how she met Grandma Betty and Grandpa Bob and how she was welcomed into our family. My brothers and I were lucky to be able to spend time with her throughout our childhood with sleepovers and day trips and she was always up for a new adventure, be it locally maybe the Glenbow Museum, Calgary Tower, Banff or international like Alaska, it was always a great time and I always learned some new fun facts about wherever our adventure had taken us. All the memories I have will be cherished and passed on to my 2 girls and my future grandchildren so that they too will know how special she was. I know you are with loved ones and friends and someday we will be reunited again. I love you Grandma and miss you with all my heart.

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  4. I remember Angela fondly from our years together in CGIT. She was a tireless worker for the organization. My sympathies to the family at this difficult time.

    Jona Way (Phythian)

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  5. Susan, Anne, Kathleen & Gerald
    I was sad to hear of your moms passing. I have many fond memories of the Matthews family. Your mom was so kind to me coming to visit at the hospice when my mom was dying. The end of a generation
    My thoughts and best wishes. Beverley (Lock) Mills

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  6. Alyssa Hartwell

    Magic was in my Grandmother’s touch and sunshine was in her smile.
    There was love in everything she did to make my life worthwhile.
    I found both hope and courage just by looking in her eyes.
    Her laughter was a source of joy, her words were warm and wise.
    There was kindness and compassion to be found in her embrace,
    and I’ve seen the light of heaven shining from my Grandmother’s face.

    My Angel Up in Heaven

    My angel up in heaven, I wanted you to know,
    I feel you watching over me, everywhere I go.
    I wish you were here with me, but that can never be;
    Memories of you in my heart that only I can see.

    My angel up in heaven,
    I hope you understand, that I would give anything if I could hold your hand.
    I’d hold you oh so tightly and never let you go
    And all the love inside of me, to you I would show.

    My angel up in heaven, for now we are apart,
    You’ll always live inside of me, deep within my heart.

    I love you forever and always, Gramma.
    Until we meet again. xoxo

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  7. Great-Grandma,
    I have so many wonderful memories of the adventures we shared; exploring local landmarks, community fairs, and the odd peruse through the immense historical documents you were always to proud to have.
    I can’t begin to thank you for taking the time to teach me about our family, your childhood, and for sharing your life’s experiences with me…

    I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to grow up around such a remarkable woman, with so much unconditional love and kindness to give; I cannot wait to tell stories to my own children, who I hope in a sense, will be able to understand how truly extraordinary she was.

    I fondly remember sitting with her, playing cards, drinking tea, soaking up as much knowledge from her as I possibly could; our favourite thing to talk about though, was Lady Bugs, she always told me how they reminded her of me, so she kept them close..

    I am so grateful for the times we shared, laughing and chatting. Grateful to have had the opportunity to have her speak at my wedding, how much she loved my husband, and how accepting of him she was, with nothing but open arms; I can’t remember a time without her, always so proud and excited to be around her..

    Love Always, Kaitlyn & Branden

    We love you, and miss you so, so much..

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  8. Eric Torstensen

    Deepest condolences on your loss. I have many fond memories of Angela as I was growing up, hanging out with Gerald and “the boys”.

    She was a lovely lady.

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  9. Susan, Anne, Kathleen and Gerald
    I was saddened to learn of the passing of your dear mother.
    I have many fond memories of time spent with the Matthew clan. Your dearest Angela will rest peacefully in your hearts.
    My deepest sympathies to your family.
    Linda (Whayman) Kostel

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