1924 – 2021
Betty Birse, beloved matriarch of the Birse and Lough clans, died peacefully November 13, 2021 on National Kindness Day, at Michener Extendicare, Red Deer, AB, with family by her side.
Betty is remembered by family and friends in Alberta, BC, across Canada and in the United States and the United Kingdom for her unconditional love, kindness, acceptance, and generosity; her home-baked brown bread as Birthday gifts; her much anticipated Christmas letters with inspirational speech balloons; and her triple batches of cinnamon buns for homesick young nursing students in Lamont. In 1978, the Lethbridge YWCA named Betty as Woman of the Year for her contribution to volunteer service. In her recent time at Michener Extendicare in Red Deer, she is remembered by her caregivers as a very special lady and a most appreciative resident and by family members of her fellow neighbours “for her stories at the table that were so positive and sweet and her joyous demeanor that was such a delight. She so often had a lovely compliment to pass on.”
Betty amazed herself by living 97 years. “That’s not young,” she would say. She often remarked that she had moved 17 times, from the CPR Station House in Hatton, SK, where she was born, to Glenwood, AB, where her mother died when she was 10, and then to Leader, SK. At age 15, she moved to Calgary, AB to attend High School, six days prior to the outbreak of WW II. After a Valentine's Day wedding in 1948, Betty moved to Nelson, BC with her new husband Archie Birse. And in 1952, they moved to Vancouver for Archie to attend Union College (now Vancouver School of Theology), living in a different student minister’s residence each year, from Vancouver’s Downtown East-side to Como Lake, Coquitlam. Upon graduation and ordination, Rev. Archie Birse became the United Church Minister in Quesnel, BC, and Betty realized her teenage career goal of becoming a “minister’s wife.”
Together, Archie and Betty continued serving United Churches, next in Kelowna, BC and from 1963 on in Alberta - Lamont, Coaldale, Grande Prairie, Bowden, and, after retirement, Alix and Delburne. For several years in the mid-70s, they lived in Calgary, where Betty enjoyed her work as a school library assistant. In 1982, they chose Wetaskiwin as their retirement home “because it felt right”, where Archie loved the golfing and Betty enjoyed the walkability. Wherever they lived, Archie and Betty supported the individuals and fellowship of the AA Community. The family has deep appreciation for Betty’s loving caregivers at Michener Extendicare, Red Deer, where she has been cared for with compassion since June 2017. Looking back on her life, Betty remarked, “It’s been an amazing journey, with friends in many places, and no regrets.”
Cherishing memories of her loving, supportive and generous life are her daughter Peggy Birse, of Red Deer; son Ian Birse and Laura Kavanagh, of Gatineau, PQ, and daughter-in-law Sandee Birse Olson/Ted, of Red Deer; grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Ryan, Tara, Tyler, Matthew Birse, of Calgary; Christopher, Mercy, Sean, Keana Lough, of Edmonton; and Kevin, Hayden, and Sienna Lough, of Calgary; siblings Jim/Joan Stephens, of Calgary, and Ruth/Don McLarty, of Oliver, BC; many treasured nieces, nephews, friends and family in Wetaskiwin, Lamont, Markerville, Calgary, Nelson, and throughout Alberta, BC, Canada, the US and the UK.
Family members welcoming her “home” are beloved husband Rev. Archie Birse, son Bill Birse, grandchildren Willow Birse and Colin Lough, and parents James, Blanche, and Grace Stephens.
Betty was a life-long storyteller, much to the delight of her great-grandchildren. At her memorial service in the spring of 2022 at First United Church in Wetaskiwin, we will be sharing some of her best-told and favourite stories. We would love to learn of yours. Service details will be posted on the web-site of Baker Funeral Chapel, https://www.womboldfuneralhomes.com/baker.
Betty requested that those wishing to make memorial donations can send them to First United Church, 5115 – 51 Ave. Wetaskiwin, AB, T9A 0V3 or by e-transfer to email@example.com. to support the church she loved and its Mission and Service Fund.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Betty Birse, please visit our floral store.