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THELMA FORBES In her 101st year Thelma Bessie Forbes passed away quietly at her residence, at the Burquitlam Lions Care Centre, in Coquitlam, BC on January 5, 2012. Predeceased by her husband Edgar and her brothers Oliver and Donald, she is lovingly remembered by her nieces Pat (husband Bill) Dales of Port Coquitlam, BC and Jo-Ann Manyk of Vancouver, BC and their families, and very special friends Ken and Dorothy Heys of Port Coquitlam. Also remembered fondly by nephew Forbes Newman of Calgary, Alberta. Born and raised in Manitoba, Thelma was the youngest child born to Robert and Annie Brown. Born on the farm September 26, 1910 the family moved to Manitou after a particularly hard winter when Thelma was four. After completing her schooling in Manitou she attended Normal School there (one of four centers in Manitoba that would assist in raising the standards of teaching in Manitoba). Graduating in 1929 she taught school in the south central communities of Manitou, Ninette, Glenora and Rathwell. In 1940 Thelma married Edgar Forbes and together they ran an Imperial Oil station in Rathwell and sold International Harvester Equipment. In 1954 they bought a three-quarter section grain farm just outside of Rathwell which they farmed until Edgar's health declined in the 1970s. Thelma was always active in the political arena, remembering as a child how her mother stimulated family interest in politics by having them paste pictures of candidates on a brown-paper bulletin board in the kitchen. She worked as campaign manager for her local Conservative representative and when he died suddenly in 1959 she was encouraged by then Premier Duff Roblin and her peers to run herself. She became the third woman ever elected to the Manitoba legislature and the first Conservative. Following her election several editorial comments were written. Quoting from the Winnipeg Free Press December 1, 1959: The election of Mrs. Thelma Forbes from Cypress on Thursday brings a woman to the Manitoba Legislature for the first time in 18 years. That has been too long. She served ten years successfully before retiring in 1969. In 1963 she became Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba - the first woman Speaker for Manitoba and the second in the Commonwealth. She was Speaker from 1963 to August 1966 when she became Manitoba's first woman cabinet minister - Minister of Urban Development and Municipal Affairs. In 1968, under new Premier Walter Weir, she became Minister of Government Services. After the death of her husband in 1982 Thelma moved to Port Coquitlam, BC to be close to her nieces. She quickly became Aunt Thelma to all the neighbourhood and joined the seniors' centre of Port Coquitlam. Her involvement with the Old Age Pensioners' Organization (OAPO) and a Seniors' Housing Committee was instrumental in bringing about the development of Mayfair (now Amica at Mayfair), independent living for seniors in downtown Port Coquitlam. She lived at Amica from when it opened in 2000 until 2003 when a fall, with subsequent broken hip, coupled with dementia meant a move into care and Burquitlam Lions Care Centre in Coquitlam became home. She thoroughly enjoyed her life there and interactions with staff, other residents and cat Smokey. The family is grateful to the team of staff at Burquitlam for all their professional care and kindness shown over the past eight years. Thelma appreciated the care she received from her family doctor, Dr. S. Barron of Port Coquitlam, and from her companion at Burquitlam, Marlene Flanagan. If friends so wish, they may make a donation in Thelma's memory to Burquitlam (www.burquitlamlionscare.com) or to Calvin United Church, c/o Box 165, Rathwell, Manitoba, R0G 1S0. In keeping with her wishes no funeral will be held. A graveside service will be held at a later date in Manitoba.
As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on Jan 14, 2012
Condolences & Memories (3 entries)
While my interactions with Thelma were limited because of geography, she remains a strong and influential figure in my memory. Her forthrightness encouraged me as a child and young woman. I was particularly impressed by her ability to navigate the Forbes clan and Manitoba politics. I am saddened to hear of her passing. - Posted by: Susan L Forbes (Second cousin to Edgar whose was my grandfather's (Charles Wilson Forbes) first cousin.) on: May 17, 2012
I REMEMBER AUNT THELMA AS A VERY NICE PERSON, AS A FAMILY WE WOULD VISIT HER IN RATHWELL. SHE AND MY MOM GOT ALONG VERY WELL, OUR MOM PASSED IN NOV OF LAST YEAR AT THE AGE OF 94. - Posted by: madeleine forbes marshall (she was my fathers aunt (douglas forbes)) on: Jan 16, 2012
A wonderful friend, treasured by both Dorothy and Ken Heys. - Posted by: Ken And Dorothy Heys. (Treasured friend.) on: Jan 15, 2012
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