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Born: Jun 22, 1923

Date of Passing: Apr 24, 2018

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VALDINE JOHNSON Born: June 22, 1923 After a very full 94 years, Gudrun Valdina (Valdine) Johnson passed away peacefully, at Extendicare Oakview Place in Winnipeg, on April 24, 2018. Valdine was born in the town of Piney, Manitoba on June 22, 1923 to John and Olina Johnson, immigrants from Iceland - the third eldest child and oldest girl among nine siblings. In 1942, the family relocated to Winnipeg, first to Donald Street and later to Home Street. Valdine came of age during the Great Depression. The hardships and sacrifices she experienced in her early years contributed to the resilient, generous and confident woman she became. Children's education was Valdine's vocation and passion for most of her long and well-lived life. She was only 18 when she graduated with today's equivalent of a Teacher's Diploma. What appears to be her first teaching assignment from 1942 to 1944 saw her overseeing 10 grades in a one-room schoolhouse at the Cypress School near Clearwater, Manitoba. She moved to Winnipeg and taught at the Argyle School before taking a position at what was then Manitoba's most northerly school, located in Churchill and administered by the Department of National Defense. Those early years provided but a few of the notable challenges Valdine conquered during her career. In the mid-1950s, Valdine, who to that point had never ventured outside Manitoba, was not dissuaded from journeying all the way to France to teach the children of Canadian military personnel at the S.H.A.P.E. Base School in St. Germain. During this exciting four-year stint, Valdine absorbed the French language, cuisine and culture (she loved the Left Bank). She also managed to obtain her driver's licence following an unusual if not harrowing "practical" test which included driving in reverse down a (reportedly) steep hill! In 1960, Valdine came back to Canada, again to Churchill, Manitoba, then on to Winnipeg where she remained. Over the next two decades, she taught at various schools -including Argyle, Machray, Sisler and Lansdowne. She also served as a Principal, including at Cecil Rhodes and Elmwood Schools. Before retiring in 1984, she was appointed Area Superintendent of Winnipeg School Division #1 (the press reported that she was the first woman in the Division to attain this position). While working full time, Valdine also returned to school as a student, obtaining her Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Manitoba. With all of her professional accomplishments however, what Valdine cherished most was engaging directly with students in her beloved classroom. Over the course of her 42 years in education, the sometimes formidable but fair "Miss Johnson" personally taught or played a key role in the development of thousands of students in grades 1 through 12. Valdine was honoured as a 40-year member of the University Women's Club and was likewise a long-time member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. Her combined loves of reading and children led to a committed, decades-long association with the Children's Hospital Book Market, a part of the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. Valdine belonged to the Jon Sigurdsson Chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE), the only IODE chapter started by immigrant women in Canada. She was part of the Icelandic-Canadian Fron and Lestrarfelagid Gleym-mer-ei. Valdine enthusiastically adopted her parents' interest and involvement in all things Icelandic, with years of Icelandic language study allowing her to converse easily in her original tongue with relatives and friends in Manitoba and Iceland. A travel bug kindled during that initial trip to France remained with Valdine well into her senior years. She returned frequently to Iceland, where she maintained strong family connections. She loved Europe and also enjoyed the great beauty and diversity within her own country. For much of her life, Valdine resided with family members on Home Street. The house was often filled with an assortment of family and friends who were treated to a range of savoury and sweet Icelandic treats, many prepared with flair by Valdine. Following the death of her brother and remaining housemate Harold in 1999, Valdine moved to Fort Street in Winnipeg. There, she quickly befriended a lively group of like-minded women who shared her love of cribbage and bridge, always accompanied by plentiful food and usually a glass or two of spirits. Following nearly 14 happy years at Fort Street, Valdine transitioned to Sturgeon Creek II Retirement Residence in late 2013 before arriving at Oakview Place in July 2015. Although she never married or had children of her own, Valdine selflessly gave much time and financial assistance to those less fortunate of all ages and backgrounds. Intelligence, curiosity, stubbornness and a dedicated work ethic, accentuated by a quick wit (and occasionally salty tongue), a bellowing laugh and a zest for good food and drink - these characteristics defined Valdine. Predeceased by her parents, sisters Laura Richardson (Thomas), Sigrid Walsh (James) and Margaret Whitlaw (Richard), brothers John Johnson, who died in infancy, Sigmar Johnson (Lorraine), Harold Johnson and Carl Johnson (Edith), niece Lois Reczek, and great-nephew Daniel Runchey, Valdine is survived by her sister Rosemary Rawnsley (Bob), and many loving nieces and nephews: Bruce Johnson, Maureen Graf, Barbara Hughes, Rita Eyer, Patricia Walsh, Teresa Walsh, Linda-Marie Walsh, Judith Richardson Gislason, Cheryl Holmes, Susan Johnson, Scott Whitlaw, Brian Whitlaw, Jennifer Figner and David Rawnsley, their spouses, 20 great-nieces and nephews, 12 great-great-nieces and nephews, and hundreds of friends and former students around the world. Heartfelt thanks to the staff at Sturgeon Creek II and Extendicare Oakview Place for their care during Valdine's final years. A Celebration of Life in honour of Valdine will take place on what would have been her 95th birthday - Friday, June 22, 2018, 1:00 p.m., at Neil Bardal Funeral Centre, 3030 Notre Dame Avenue, Winnipeg. In lieu of flowers, charitable donations may be made to the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, Inc. ( 1.866.953.KIDS (5437) / 204.787.4000), or to a charity of your choosing. "The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience". Eleanor Roosevelt NEIL BARDAL FUNERAL CENTRE 204-949-2200

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Apr 28, 2018

Condolences & Memories (4 entries)

  • Wow what person I fondly remember her well as a student in Cecil Rhodes Elementary school 69-77 A real insperation!!!! - Posted by: David Barrette (Past student Cecil Rhodes) on: Jan 31, 2020

  • I would like to offer my condolences to Valdine's large family on her passing, but most of all to her sister Rosemary, who is the only one I know. I should say Miss Johnson, because I am one of the many former students whose life was influenced by her teaching skill but also by her genuine interest in how the rest of my life went. Valdine was my grade 5 teacher in Fort Churchill but was also a co-worker of my father, Charles Morden and a friend of my mother Marion. From the perspective of a child, it seemed those Churchill years were full of fun for the adults! I was lucky enough to see Valdine from time to time over the years when I was in Winnipeg and those visits were always a treat. I am sorry for the passing of an intelligent, kind and compassionate woman. - Posted by: Charlene Wadelius (former student) on: Apr 29, 2018

  • Sorry to hear about your Aunts passing Pat. I know how special she was to you and your family. My condolences. Take care...Diane McKay - Posted by: Diane McKay (Friend of Pat) on: Apr 28, 2018

  • Just remembering a kind and loving teacher from my days as a student at Sisler High School. Condolences to the family. Gail Harris - Posted by: Gail Harris (Past student. ) on: Apr 28, 2018

Neil Bardal Inc. (Winnipeg)

Neil Bardal Inc. (Winnipeg)

3030 Notre Dame Ave (Map)
Ph: 2049492200 | Visit Website

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