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Born: Aug 14, 1960
Date of Passing: Mar 14, 2021Offer Condolences or Memory Make a donation to CancerCare Manitoba Foundation
GATES: Colleen Joy (nee Westphal), age 60 years, passed away on Sunday, March 14, 2021 in Winnipeg. Colleen was born in Wawota, SK on August 14, 1960 to Edna Westphal (nee Vail) and Charles Kirk. She lived with her mother and siblings Clarence (Carol), Mary Kessler, Joe (Bonnie), and Anne (Lutz). She spent her summers at the farm in the garden with her mother berry picking and gardening. When she started school there wasn't yet a kindergarten program so her Aunt Marie Vail set one up in her house with her cousins. Throughout school Colleen excelled at art and all things creative. She had a vivid imagination and was very creative with drawing and writing. In 1978, Colleen moved to Brandon with her sister Anne. She got her first job at Candlewood Books, followed by The Soup Kettle. Colleen married Richard Gates in May 1983. Rick had three kids from a previous marriage: Paul, Scott and Sandy. Colleen loved her stepchildren and made many happy memories on the ball diamond where they played baseball with Rick's family team, The Dodgers. In 1985, they had a daughter, Melissa. Colleen volunteered in many of Melissa's before and after school activities and made many friends along the way. Colleen was one of the organizers in the first ever Santa Claus Parade. She also was a girl guide leader, and organized Christmas craft and family fun nights at Melissa's school for many years. Colleen went on to work at Sweet Temptations Bakery, a job that she loved. Short years after starting, she went on to at work Sweet Temptations Cafe. While working at the Café, Colleen also took on a part time job in housekeeping at the Brandon General Hospital, which later led to a full-time position in MDR. Colleen made many lifelong friendships in all the jobs that she had over the years. Her backyard parties were the stuff of legends. Many parties centered around her beautiful garden, yard, and dilapidated boat that she had her long-time neighbours and friends drag home much to the chagrin of Rick. Her garden gave her solace after Rick's passing from a short battle with ALS in 2007 and soon after her sister Mary of cancer in 2008. Colleen also found comfort in the many church groups she participated in. She was a devoted member to the St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. She loved volunteering with the pie sales and beef dinners. Food, baking especially, played a major role in Colleen's life. Many meals were shared with friends and family. If four people were coming for dinner, she would cook for ten. At Christmas, she would arrive to Melissa's apartment with a suitcase full of cookies and baked goods. It was Christmas Eve 2014 that Colleen was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. She went on to have surgery, chemotherapy and went into remission. Colleen made the hard choice to leave her home that she had lived in for 30 years and her career to be closer to her medical team in Winnipeg. Colleen, with daughter Melissa, son-in-law Roger and her two grandchildren, bought a house in the neighbourhood of Island Lakes. Colleen joined a new church, Windsor Park United, where she easily integrated and made a new group of friends and joined committees. She continued her lifelong public service volunteering at the inner-city mission West Broadway, where she assisted making and serving meals for the less fortunate. She also continued a large garden at her Winnipeg home and made everyone in her family fatter with her confections. In 2019, Colleen was diagnosed with Glioblastoma and underwent brain surgery. Throughout all her health struggles Colleen remained positive, upbeat, and strong. Never one to complain, she inspired many with her spirt of endurance and courage. Laughter was a large part of Colleen's life and she often lamented her sense of humour was her gift to the world. On March 14, 2021, Colleen lost her battle with cancer. She was loved by many and the loss of her presence will be felt by all who were lucky enough to know her. Heaven has gained a true angel, I'm sure she's joined the party planning committee. She's sure to be baking cookies, telling jokes, and bossing our dad around. She will be lovingly remembered by her children Paul; Scott (Kerri) and grandchildren Chase (21), Jake (15) and Abby (13); Sandy (Vince) and grandchildren Steven (23), Andrew (17), Wil (11); and Melissa (Roger) and grandchildren Ava (9) and Miles (7). As well as surviving siblings and siblings-in-law Clarence (Carol), Anne (Lutz), Lorna and Don (Joan) and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, the funeral service will be held at a later date, when we can all safely gather. Donations in memory of Colleen may be made to the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, 1160-675 McDermot Ave, Winnipeg, MB, R3E 0V9, www.cancercarefdn.mb.ca.
In Colleen's own words
you laugh think of me,
I will be laughing
with you in your heart. Sometimes when you cry,
I will be holding
you in your heart. Sometimes when you are alone, down or afraid,
I will be standing
beside you in your heart. Remember me with laughter, not with tears and I will live in your heart forever."
Expressions of sympathy
may be made at
As published in Brandon Sun on Mar 20, 2021
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