A Tribute to Wilma Jean Corriveau
October 14 1939 – January 30 2019
Wilma was the second born of Wally and Kay Smith. I will refer to Kay Smith as Auntie Kay even though she was the mother of Wilma.
My first recollection of Wilma was when she and my youngest sister were trying to give me a bath. It became a game when I jumped out of the tub and ran to my bedroom with them chasing me. They caught me and returned me to the tub. Then I jumped out again and the chase began. I remember much laughter with the effort.
My next memory was when she was making fudge. She had the thermometer in the hot fudge and was fussing over getting the temperature right. Her fudge was always so delicious!
Wilma completed her grade 12 at the Oliver high school, and stayed on one more year to complete her grade 13, which was a trial program offered by the school district. Upon completion of that year, Wilma went on to the teachers college in Victoria for another year and then went straight into teaching. Her first posting was at Quesnel where she stayed for three years.
During one of her summers off, she and some of her friends, Sue, Muriel, and Robin, went across North America by Greyhound bus. At the Plains of Abraham, they were kicked off the historical grounds for being disrespectful, they were wearing shorts, a despicable act for women in Quebec at that time!
They were delayed at the US/Canadian border because Sue claimed that she was a retired bank teller. Unknown to the girls, there had been a bank robbery locally and the Border officials were watching for signs of inconsistencies in people crossing the border.
In the larger American cities they stayed at the YWCA’s. It was very hot that summer and none of the accommodations had air conditioning.
Wilma accepted a teaching position at Fort St John. The school district provided housing for the unmarried teachers. The teacherage had a maintenance man who Wilma met and eventually married.
She ended her teaching career to stay home and have babies. She gave birth to three boys. As they grew she ferried them around to speed skating and hockey. In 1981, she organised and directed the National Speed Skating Championships and the National Team trials in Fort St John.
Shortly after her first son was born, the two of them boarded a Greyhound bus and travelled to Oliver and visited with Wally and Auntie Kay on their tree fruit farm. That was the beginning of the summer trips with the boys to enjoy the grand parents as well as the bounty provided by the fruit farm.
When the three sons graduated from school and went on to seek their fame and fortune, Wilma went on to restart her teaching career in Fort St John where she taught for twelve more years. Meantime she bought a house in Oliver in anticipation of retiring there. Upon her retirement and sale of her Fort St John house, she moved to Oliver in 1993.
Wilma was an avid bird watcher or birder as they are known in the industry. She and my older sister birded in Panama, United States, Belize, Cuba, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Ecuador to name a few.
In 1998 I began house sitting for Wilma while she went birding.
Wilma also voluntarily managed the Oliver Red Cross equipment depot for ten years. At one time she had fourteen volunteers working with her.
After resigning her position with the Red Cross, she began volunteering with the English Second Language (ESL) program offered by the Okanagan College, and tutored local ESL adult students.
Wilma was a very accepting and hospitable person. When my wife and I showed up at her door she always had a smile and welcomed us into her house. For the past two summers we have commandeered her house to can peaches, of course we canned peaches for her too. She didn’t ever complain about the mess we made or the commotion we caused.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations go to the South Okanagan Raptor Rehabilitation Society.
The memorial will be held on Saturday Feb 9th, 11 am to 4pm, at Medici’s , address 572 Fairview Rd, Oliver. Interment of ashes to follow.