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SHIRLEY ELIZABETH LOEWEN
Born: Dec 21, 1936
Date of Passing: Jun 22, 2022Send Flowers to the Family Offer Condolences or Memory
SHIRLEY ELIZABETH LOEWEN
The family of Shirley Loewen is deeply saddened to announce her passing at the Riverview Health Centre Palliative Care Unit on Wednesday, June 22, 2022.
Shirley's intelligence, judgement and beautiful personality led to a life full of experiences. She was loved by all with whom she made contact.
Shirley leaves behind her husband William Loewen; her children, Howard (Anne), Ann, Louise, Peter (Joanne)and Jennifer; her grandchildren, Zona (Casey), Ayda (Nikita), Hannah, Emma (Jason), Amy, Miles, Felicitas, Justine (Bryce), Marcel and Stephan; great-grandchildren, Joshua and Nola; other important family members, Shane, Tracey, Katharina, and Brenda; her sister Nellie; and her brothers, Art, Wayne (Frankie), and Ron. Shirley was predeceased by her sisters, Eva and Marie; sisters-in-law, Alice, Willa, Penny, Arlene, Win, and Celine; and brothers-in-law, Jim, Richard, Keith and Bob.
Shirley Elizabeth Loewen (née Perret) was born in Invermay, Saskatchewan on Winter Solstice, December 21, 1936. She grew up first on a rural farm in the challenging circumstances of drought and the Great Depression. In her early teens, Shirley's father passed away from the effects of the First World War mustard gas, leaving her mother Zona to raise eight children on limited means.
A move took them from the farm into town where Zona could support her family washing clothes by hand.
In her childhood, Shirley suffered a farm injury after being kicked in the head by a work horse. She later joked that the horse "kicked some sense into her" but left her with a permanent horseshoe scar on the top of her head. Shirley excelled academically and graduated from high school at age 16. Too young to enter nursing training, she worked in the local bank until she was accepted in the nursing program at Saskatoon City Hospital. While there, she met Bill Loewen who would become her lifelong love, business, and political sparring partner. Their first meeting was on the Summer Solstice, 66 years prior to her death. After their marriage in 1958, they lived in Edmonton where she nursed at City Hospital until the arrival of her first child in 1961. In 1965, the family moved to Winnipeg where she lived for the rest of her life.
She was known as a great neighbour in the St. Norbert community responding to issues as they arose. When it became apparent that Pembina Highway was becoming increasingly dangerous for school children, while lobbying for traffic lights, she organized a crossing guard program, taking many shifts herself. She was naturally environmentally-minded and protected the river bottom forests of St. Norbert numerous times. During the 80s, Shirley sponsored two brothers from Vietnam who lived with the family while they settled in to life in Canada. More recently, she sponsored two sisters from Ethiopia, Lily and Martha Tibebe.
She was devoted to public education and held many positions often simultaneously: School Trustee and the first female Chair of the Seine River School Division, Chair of the Manitoba chapter of Canadian Parents for French, Board Member of the Association of School Trustees, and Chair of the Provincial Public School Finance Board. In the 1970s, bilingualism became a political issue. She and other colleagues travelled around the province explaining how bilingual schools could be established for parents who wanted their children to learn both French and English. Under the banner of Canadian Parents for French they created what became the French Immersion program throughout Manitoba. Her three terms as School Trustee saw the formation of the Division Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine and the first all-Français school built in St. Norbert, Ecole Noël-Ritchot, as had been enshrined in the Manitoba Act passed more than one hundred years earlier.
Shirley was equally active in the business community as a director of Comcheq Services Limited and Telpay Incorporated. As the companies grew exponentially, Shirley created a sponsorship program to financially support arts and social service organizations across Canada. Shirley never shied away from controversial art and community needs, work that resulted in many awards.
Her love of music led her to work diligently for many years as chair of the Women's Committee of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. She was a founder of and significant donor to the St. Norbert Arts Centre where she was Board Chair for many critical years of its growth. She sat on other community committees and boards such as Heritage St. Norbert and the St. Norbert Foundation. In her later years, she managed the WH and SE Loewen Foundation that has quietly sponsored many individual artists, arts and social service organizations often listing the contributions as anonymous.
Shortly prior to her death, she established a scholarship for Indigenous students entering the nursing program at Red River College.
An avid reader and a lifelong learner, Shirley continued to take university classes as a mature student in history, English literature, and geography. There wasn't a political position she shied away from discussing with intelligence and careful thought. Shirley was active in the Liberal Party for a time and later was a co-founder of the fledgling anti-free trade National Party of Canada, running as its most successful candidate in 1994.
Most of all, Shirley rejoiced in the time spent with her grandchildren, acting as a back-up parent and maintaining the family home as a drop-in meeting place for all. Despite the difficulties that kept families apart during the pandemic, she was graced with two great-grandchildren who became her greatest joy in her last months. Her dedication to family, especially her beloved children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, is felt throughout the extended family and into the community.
The family would like to thank the excellent staff at the Riverview Health Centre Palliative Care Unit for their care and support in Shirley's last days.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra or the St. Norbert Arts Centre.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Jun 25, 2022
Condolences & Memories (14 entries)
How to honour someone who lived so fully and left such a gaping hole? Having left the province early for career reasons, my knowledge of Shirley was second-hand via Mum (Mildred) and brother John (condolences above). Mum was a co-organizer with Bill of the famous Loewen Reunion in Gretna, to which Shirley's quiet support was so helpful. She also attended, with Bill, a 2017 dedication of a music room in Mum's name at the UofM, once again showing up for family. Thanks for those small memories. - Posted by: William Dickson (2nd cousin) on: Aug 09, 2022
Shirley was such a gracious and positive force in the world. Her mothering of the St. Norbert Art Centre (SNAC) was such a creative and beautiful program. Her support made SNAC possible and she often graced its events. She also was so lovely as to invite me for a holiday dinner one year with my baby daughter when we were alone at that time, despite having her own large family. I send my respect, love and sorrow at her passing. - Posted by: Shirley Jean Thompson (Friend) on: Aug 01, 2022
To Bill and family, Just learned about your wife Shirley, thru Mum Mildred Dickson at Boyne Lodge. My condolences, for sure. I remember the great day that was had commemorating Mildred's room naming at the u of m music faculty. I also remember the gala's at St Norbert Art centre, as well as the Dinner in Downtown Wpg. Mum really enjoyed all of these. Best wishes John Dickson - Posted by: John Dickson (2nd cousin in law) on: Jul 29, 2022
We were deeply saddened to hear of Shirley’s passing. A remarkably kind, compassionate, intelligent, pragmatic and resourceful woman, Shirley quietly supported Winnipeg’s Indigenous community and the empowerment of Indigenous women. She and Bill graced us with their presence at more than one Winter Solstice ceremony as we gathered to give thanks to Creator for their generosity and friendship. She will be greatly missed by all whose lives she touched. We send our love and sincere condolences to Bill and all the family. Dudley and Eleanor Thompson - Posted by: Dudley and Eleanor Thompson (Friends) on: Jul 04, 2022
In 2003 former nursing graduates of Saskatoon City Hospital living in MB formed an Alumnae Association. Shirley was one of us and attended our twice yearly luncheons regularly. She never commented on her accomplishments - just joined us in our memories of good old nursing training days. She was so humble! What an amazing woman! We are so proud of her! Condolences to you - all of her family and friends. Gwen Rasmussen (Sayer 61 A) Secretary Treasurer of the MB Chapter of SCH Nurses Alumnae (no longer active) - Posted by: Gwen Rasmussen (Saskatoon City Hospital Nurses Alumnae) on: Jul 02, 2022
So sorry and sad to learn of Shirley's passing. I have fond memories of living and growing up across the street from the Loewen family. Although, I didn't babysit very often I remember being impressed with how well behaved the children were. (I actually think they were all soundly asleep by the time I got there.) I also remember my mom being very impressed that Shirley would get up and bake a fresh loaf of bread each and every morning for her family. (Before the days of breadmakers). My mother who was quite the baker and breadmaker herself was most certainly in awe of Shirley's energy and dedication to that task. Thank you for the fond memories of good times spent in St. Norbert. Our sincere condolences on your sad loss. She will be missed by all who knew her. Fondest regards, Rick and Michele (Takoski) Hemmerling - Posted by: michele hemmerling (former neighbour) on: Jul 02, 2022
I was saddened to read of the loss of Shirley Loewen. She was an outstanding person who was always willing to help. Bill, to you and your family my prayers and deepest thoughts. - Posted by: Rita Borthwick (Friend) on: Jun 30, 2022
I was very sorry to hear of Mrs. Loewen's passing. Mr. Loewen, I would like to offer my condolences to you, your family, relatives and friends. I know she will be missed. Jo Anne Crook Former Employee Comcheq/TelPay - Posted by: Jo Anne Crook (Former Employee Comcheq/TelPay) on: Jun 28, 2022
My sincere condolences to Bill and the family. We shared a number of interests. Most importantly the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's well-being, and nourishing Bill appropriately to keep his bridge expertise on track. Manitoba has been greatly enriched by Shirley for many years, and hopefully those of us who remain will be able to adequately fill her shoes. That will not be an easy task. All who knew Shirley and Bill as a team know that this was a relationship that, simply put, made all of our lives better. Thank you, Shirley. You will always be a part of us. John M - Posted by: John Mansfield (Friend and colleague) on: Jun 27, 2022
We are so sorry to hear about Shirley's passing and send our condolences to the Loewen family. Shirley's love of family and community was a shining example, and her care and generosity impacted the lives of many individuals and organizations. Edmund and Karla Dawe - Posted by: Edmund and Karla Dawe (Friend) on: Jun 26, 2022
We are truly saddened to hear of Shirley's passing. We cannot remember any time spent with her that was not brightened by her infectious smile and kind words to all. She was such a welcoming person to all. We will miss her greatly. Terry and Barb and family - Posted by: Terry and Barb Howard (Cousin) on: Jun 26, 2022
Howard we send you our sympathy on the death of your Mother Carol Ann and Russell - Posted by: Carol Ann and Russell Muncaster (friend of son Howard) on: Jun 26, 2022
i WAS JUST TRYING TO CONTACT PETER AND THE LOEWEN SITE - NOW WE KNOW YOU HAVE BEEN THROUGH TRYING TIMES. KAY AND I ARE SO SADDENED WITH THE APPEARANCE OF SHIRLEY'S WONDERFUL LIFE STORY, SOME OF WHICH WE KNEW. OUR PERSONAL COMMUNITY IS MUCH REDUCED WITH THE LOSS OF SHIRLEY, WHOM WE TRULY APPRECIATED THE TOO FEW TIMES WE WERE TOGETHER.THE WORLD WAS A BETTER PLACE, JUST BECAUSE IT HAD FOLKS LIKE SHIRLEY, AND YOU BILL. THINKING ABOUT YOUR FAMILY WITH RESPECT AND THANKS FOR HAVING YOU IN OUR LIVES. WILL BE IN CONTACT AT A FUTURE TIME. H AND K. - Posted by: HAROLD F MCCORT (Very very long time good friend) on: Jun 25, 2022
My sincere condolences to all of the family and friends that are mourning the loss of Shirley. She was an inspiration to so many. I cherish the times I spent with her and the family, celebrating and planning and making things happen in so many different ways. May her memory be a blessing to all who knew her, as I know it will. Holding you all close, Kathleen - Posted by: Kathleen Darby (Friend) on: Jun 25, 2022
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