Obituary: Greene, Viola May

Viola May Greene
Viola May Greene

Viola May Greene
1920 – 2016

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Viola Greene, aged 95 of Davidson, Sask.

Vi leaves to mourn her son Byron (Iris), Lance and Kayla; son David (Amber), Devin (Renee) Jorja and Finley and Derek (Meaghan) and Kaleb; son-in-law Dennis (Julie) Demeester and family Darla (Scott) Dillon, Riley, Zach and Samantha; and Dwayne (Lisa) Demeester.

Viola was predeceased by her husband Keith and daughter Donna.

An Anglican service was held Thursday, Feb. 4 at 2:00 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Davidson. Rev. Susan Anholt officiated. Interment was at the family plot in the Davidson Cemetery. Hanson’s Funeral Home was entrusted to arrangements.

The following tribute to Viola was given by her grandson, Devin Greene.

Viola May Reding was born on May 10, 1920 in Wakaw to parents George and Juditha Reding of Cudworth, Sask. Vi was the third of four children: there was older brother Alvin, older sister Myrtle, and younger brother Edwin. A fifth child, Lillian, died as an infant. They grew up on the family farm near Cudworth.

After finishing school in the late ‘30s, like many other young women at the time, Vi attended Normal School in Saskatoon to train to be a teacher.

Grandma mentioned this “normal school” many times, and it was something I always struggled with. Why was it called “normal” school? Could anyone go there? It seemed special or different, was it really? Was there an “abnormal” school? Eventually, I found out it was just the name of the school people went to in order to become a teacher.

By the early ‘40s, Vi was teaching in one-room schools in the Davidson area. She taught at Bengough, Lothian and Rosemae. A neighbouring farmer at Rosemae must have caught her eye, and in 1944 she married Keith Greene.

Vi and Keith lived on the Greene family farm, near Rosemae school. For those of you not familiar with all of the names of the rural school districts of 70 years ago, this is 20 miles west of Davidson, where my parents Dave and Amber still live.

I’ve seen some pictures of the farm from that time. The words sparse, barren, isolated quickly come to mind. It was flat bald prairie, with only a tiny house and barn. There were no trees. The entire house is the size of my parent’s current kitchen.

In 1948, they had their first child Donna. The next year they thought it would be a good idea to plant a couple thousand trees. Then after Byron was born in 1951, they planted a few thousand more. Since I’m sure the first round of planting thousands of trees by hand with a baby in tow went so well, a second child must have helped out lots. David was born in 1955. They didn’t plant any more trees.

Life in rural Saskatchewan could at times be lonely. There was always so much work to be done on the farm, it often seemed like there was little time for socializing. But Vi made time for it. She was a member of the Woodmere Sunshine Club (a social group of local farm women). She’d often visit and have coffee with the Dahls, Carrolls, Hewitts or other nearby neighbours. Together with Keith, they enjoyed regular square dancing, and were members of clubs in both Loreburn and Davidson. They also were heavily involved in the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society.

On the farm, Vi loved animals. She loved the cows and gave names to them. Blondie was her favourite milking cow. She loved to garden, and always had a big one. Even when they had moved into town, she still had a patch in the back yard that was always very bountiful. She had a green thumb and a knack for getting anything to grow. One of her favourite indoor plants was an amaryllis that had been given to her mother for a wedding present. It has been grown and split many times since. Some of us have bulbs from it now. For her, it would flower beautifully. The rest of us are struggling to achieve the same level of success as she did.

In 1978, they moved into town and retired from farming. They travelled in the winter months to Europe, South America, Hawaii and other places. But she always loved the farm, and enjoyed coming out to see it. She made a point to always come out at least once during harvest, so she could see the crops and maybe get a ride in the combine.

Most of my own memories of Grandma come from when I was going to school in Davidson and my brother Derek and I would stay at Grandma’s. Sometimes it was just after school for a couple of hours; sometimes it was overnight, because the buses couldn’t run due to a winter storm. We’d often play games: Grandma taught me how to play cribbage, whist and hearts. Or we’d play Rack-O (a card game) or Scrabble. She was particularly good at Scrabble, and difficult to beat. There was often a card table set up in the living room with some kind of giant puzzle on it that we would sit at for a bit and put in a few pieces.

Like most grandparents, she had a candy cupboard, and we were always quick to check it out. Usually there were peppermints or hard candy, but if you were lucky there were macaroons or rosebuds. These didn’t last long, however, because they were also some of Grandma’s favourites.

Grandma was very social and always enjoyed having tea or coffee with someone to visit. In the morning, she’d often walk down the street to Winnie Scott’s house for a coffee. Other days she would go with Nettie Dahl to the A&W. She loved her time at the senior’s centre and was a regular there. As a kid, I loved going there too, always with the hope of being able to play shuffleboard.

Grandma always had this quiet sort of confidence around her. She was this sweet old lady, but if she wanted to go somewhere, or do something, she did it. You did NOT make her doctor or dentist appointments on Tuesdays or Thursdays, because that was senior’s day. You didn’t interrupt her when Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy! were on.

Donna and Dennis were building a new house on the farm and she wanted to see it. So, she grabbed some of her friends, and drove out there and checked out the construction.

If you took her somewhere (like a family supper) and she was ready to leave, you knew. She wouldn’t say anything, but would simply go get her coat and shoes on and wait by the door. That was the sign she was ready to go home.

Not that many years ago, my mom caught Grandma and Nettie Dahl using a ladder in her backyard to pick apples off her apple tree. Mom asked what they were doing. “We want to make apple pie and the best apples are at the top of the tree. Don’t worry, the neighbours can’t see us.” Which is just the thing you’re most worried about when a couple of 90-year-old ladies are climbing ladders to pick apples.

Another example of her “matter-of-factness” was told to me by Grandma just last year. It was the story of when my Dad was born. It was March of 1955. It had just snowed and Grandma knew it was time to have the baby. So did they head straight to the hospital in Davidson? No. They hitched the tractor to the front of the car and took it through the snow to Loreburn. Then they caught the train down to Moose Jaw, so they could leave Byron and Donna with Grandpa’s parents. Then they took a bus back up to Davidson to the hospital to have David. I like to think it was Grandma’s own will power that prevented my dad from being born in the middle of a field or the back of a bus.

Grandma had a habit of “collecting things” from auctions or garage sales and over time, these started to accumulate. Eventually her kids gradually started trying to remove things from the house. While she didn’t like this, she would put up with it to a point. Inevitably, someone would go too far, and attempt to get rid of something Grandma did not want to get rid of, and she basically kicked them out of her house. Donna once got a “Haven’t you got somewhere else to be?” Dave got a flat out “I think you should go now.”

Grandma was one of the sweetest people I ever knew. She was always happy, cheerful, and laughing. I’m sure she must have gotten mad some of the time, but I never saw it. The maddest I saw her get was when a contestant on Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy! got an easy answer wrong. Thank you Grandma for all you did for your family and friends. We love you, and we miss you.