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RADCLIFFE: Della Dawn (nee May) passed away peacefully at the Brandon Regional Health Centre on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at the age of 81 years. Many who knew of her will remember her as a writer, so it will be no surprise that she wrote her own obituary years ago. It unfortunately could not be found, so instead of sharing her words I will share what I know about the woman who was so much more than my mother. Della Dawn was born on January 29, 1940, in Shoal Lake, MB, the only child of Bill and Ruth (nee Parker) May. She was raised on the farm outside Strathclair, MB, was very active in 4-H and was strongly encouraged to attend university by her parents. She graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1962 with a degree in Home Economics. I believe this was one of her accomplishments of which she was most proud, as her ties to the Canadian Home Economics Association were so very important to her throughout her life. Her degree opened many doors for her and was the basis of so much of the work she did throughout her lifetime. Della married Robert Radcliffe on October 12, 1963, and they had two daughters: Bonnie and Tracy. They lived on the farm near Cardale, MB until Robert's death in 2017, when she moved to Brandon to Victoria Landing. The years in between were spent being many things in addition to a farm wife (she much preferred driving the grain truck to housework and gardening) and mother. Della worked as a Home Economist in Minnedosa for several years. She was a teacher - she taught 4-H, Home-Economics in Rivers, and hundreds of sewing and quilting courses. She was a writer –she was likely best known for her long-running column in Grainews and articles in Farm Woman Magazine, but she also wrote and presented many speeches for various meetings and organizations. She was a judge at fairs all over Manitoba, judging foods and sewing. Della loved so many things – to sew and quilt, to cook and bake (you would never taste better pie crust), she loved to write, to read, to sing in the church choir and to travel – she went all over the world – England, Scotland, Ireland, Africa, India, China, Thailand, Australia, adventures that fed her soul. She loved to laugh – her smile was infectious and unforgettable, and she loved people – she loved her husband, her children and grandchildren, her cousins, her friends, she loved and missed her parents and aunts and uncles terribly, she loved and charmed the nurses and aides in the hospital, who were so very caring during her last days. She loved animals – her cats – she always had one in her house, her silly Jack Russell terrier, Honda, and her grand-dogs. Maybe my favorite thing about her was how she encouraged other women to be all they could be. She was an active member in the Women's Institute for decades, an organization that seeks to empower women in order to strengthen families and communities. She believed that one woman's success helped other women succeed, that when women helped other women, they helped themselves as well. She was the first feminist I knew, and in many ways the one I most admired. She is survived by her daughters: Bonnie Radcliffe (Mike Ushey) and Tracy Radcliffe (Mark Roberts), grandchildren Eric, Evan and Emma Church and their father Rick Church, and her cousins Betty Parker, John and Myrna King, and Ted and Betty Radcliffe. The family will cherish Della's memory privately. Donations in memory of Della may be made to the Canadian Home Economics Foundation, P.O. Box 2582 Stn. Main, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3C 4B3,

There is in all this cold
and hollow world
No fount of deep, strong, deathless love;
Save that within
a mother's heart.

-Felicia Hemans

Expressions of sympathy may be made at

As published in Brandon Sun on May 15, 2021

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