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Friday, December 1, 2023
1:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)
Judith Gilchrist (nee Dowswell), age 80 years, of Emerson, Manitoba passed away peacefully on Monday, November 20, 2023 at her residence. Judy leaves to cherish her memory, her children Sharon Zinn, John (Angela) Gilchrist, and Laura Gilchrist, granddaughter’s Heather Atkinson and Samantha Gilchrist and 2 great granddaughter’s Haven and Rhydann Atkinson. Other family members include Heather’s Father Rodney Zinn, Samantha’s Father Brian Bonne and Haven and Rhydann’s Father Noah Atkinson, brother in-law Bert Gilchrist, sister in-law Darlene (Paul) Fillion and many nieces and nephews. Others include her best friend (forever) Shirley Lane and Ruth Cherewayko and niece Sandra Broughton along with many relatives in Thunder Bay and New Brunswick as well as a host of oh so dear friends.
Judy was predeceased by her infant daughter Heather, her husband Sam Gilchrist, her parents Harry and Laura (Felker) Dowswell, her sisters Iona, Phyllis Scott and sister Eleanor Albert and brother Lloyd (Isabel) Dowswell and brother Howard (Jean) Dowswell, brother in-law Vern (Valerie) Gilchrist and brother in-law Marvin (Vangie) Gilchrist and grandnephew Michael Gilchrist Jr.
Judy was born in Vita MB and raised in Emerson, and spent her whole life in Emerson. From a young age she was always very active and did a lot of volunteering. Her parents always told her that “You don't need to be paid for everything you do, you can offer to help just to volunteer.” Around the age of 14 she got a ‘real’ job working at the Emerson Journal cutting and folding the papers, she also worked in all cafés in town. Judy also drove the mail truck and delivered the rural mail with her Father and Mother and she continued to drive the route after their death, until such time as when they cancelled it. She had 25 years in by then.
She was very well known in the Town of Emerson for all that she has done and we’ll get to all of that in a second, but first let me tell you about her life and the love of her life, Sam Gilchrist. She met him in 1960 when she was 17 and they soon married in 1962. They were married for 44 years and they truly lived life to the fullest. Together Sam and Judy were successful in business, owning and operating the Maple Leaf Motel and several restaurants in Emerson for more than 30 years. They travelled a great deal and went to many destination hot spots and even as far as Hong Kong and the Philippines. But let me tell you, she loved Vegas. Her pride and joy however, was her family and she had a very close relationship with her children. She was such a wonderful and loving Mother even with how incredibly busy life became, family always came first. And as you can imagine with multiple restaurants that Judy worked in, to say that she was an excellent cook would be entirely accurate! She absolutely loved putting on big festive holiday suppers or birthday parties and was the happiest when the family was all together. When Grandchildren came along, well boy oh boy, (except they were all girls) she was in her element and she loved them to the max! Same with the great grandchildren.
So now getting back to all her volunteering. As you will see, the list of her volunteering is both extensive and impressive! She was on countless committees and has had many, many. MANY honours all which led to the prestigious and distinct honour of receiving the ‘Golden Jubilee Medal’ from the Governor General on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen in 2002. Indeed a great privilege.
Yet there is so much more than what is written here. She was great at organizing and was always on the go somewhere and out and about volunteering at some of following; Emerson Curling Club, Legion Ladies Auxiliary, Order of the Royal Purple, Emerson Figure Skating club, Emerson swimming pool or you could find her working at a booth at the Morris Stampede every year. Often she would help with the town's fall supper by cooking turkeys or baking pies or sometimes both. Judy was also a member of the United Church, once again volunteering her time when ever needed and would be asked to donate sandwiches or dainties for a funeral or any other function that needed help, she was always willing to lend a hand. She was blessed with a gift of service.
Judy was presented with a Life Membership in recognition of over 20 years of volunteer services to the Emerson Curling Club where she ran the canteen and did the bonspiel banquets for the men's women's and mixed curling teams, (she was usually the first one there in the early morning and most of the time the last one to leave). Yes she loved curling, whether in person or on TV, it was just another one of her happy places.
In 1975 Judy joined the Legion Ladies Auxiliary. She was on the social committee, right from the start, then moved on to the sick and visiting and was always present and helping on November 11th and on Decoration day. In 1993 Judy was presented with a life membership in appreciation of all her years of hard work to the Ladies Auxiliary.
Judy was also one of the many people who were presented with a plaque of appreciation for endless hours of volunteer work during the 1979 Flood. Many people had to work around the clock to save the town.
In 1999 the Town of Emerson nominated Judy as an outstanding community volunteer who had provided years of community services to the town.
In 2000 The Gateways Lions Club honored Judy by presenting her with an honorary membership to the club in recognition of all the years of volunteer work. Always there to help the club with their pancake breakfast and many other events they held. One big project she did to help the club is doing the Lion's Birthday Calendars. This was a very big job and a lot of time was spent doing this. The profits from this project would go to the swimming pool and the school.
Another one of Judy's volunteer jobs was running the Emerson Swimming Pool. Judy did this for 35+ years. Judy devoted most of the months of July & August to the pool. A very familiar face around there. She loved the children and loved being there. Judy hired the staff, and did all the organizing of the two sessions of swimming lessons and all the things that were pool related. Many couldn’t believe she would spend her summers at the pool with very little time off and not get paid. Judy would tell them her pay was when she walked out on the pool deck and all the small children call her to watch them do something new. Or they would give her a big hug or even bring her pictures they had made. “That is all the pay I need.” she would say.
Judy was a Chartered member of the Order Of the Royal Purple and she went through all the chairs, working her way to the Honoured Royal Lady to which she had to decline because of her family and the business they owned. In Nov. 2001 the Legion Branch presented Judy with a medal for the ‘Year of Volunteers Award’ and engraved on back, ‘In Appreciation Emerson Branch 77.’
The local Fire Department presented ribbons to those who they believe made a difference to the town by volunteering and she was one of them. The ribbons had written on them ‘I Can Make a Difference.’
Judy has contributed to the community of Emerson her entire lifetime. She would describe herself as a real people person and likes to keep busy and help others. Whatever she did, she put her heart and soul into it. As you can see, volunteering was a way of life and she’d say she was never too busy to help out. If you’d ask her what she did in her spare time, she’d just laughed and say, “It's just the way I am.” And oh what a memorable laugh she had. And if you’d ask her family, they’d reflect in awe of all that she had accomplished, in honour for the years of dedication she gave and speak of the gratitude they have for the beautiful, love filled and full life she carved for us all. It is a time to reflect and honour a life well lived.
A celebration of life for Judy Gilchrist will be on Friday, December 1st at the Emerson Complex. This will be a meet and greet and will be from 1-3 pm. A private family Interment will be held at a later date. In memory of Judy Gilchrist donations may be made to the Emerson Pool, which she loved and where she spent her summers.