Grace Isobel (Handford) Atkinson
August 6, 1929 – August 11, 2022
We the family of Grace Isobel Atkinson are saddened that she left life on earth on August 11, 2022. We are joyous to share that her only stay in hospital (since giving birth five times) was during the last month following a fall and broken hip surgery. Her daughters were all able to spend many hours with her during this time and she was a grateful patient to all the hard-working staff at RIH who took such good care of her. When she had enough, she peacefully left us and rode a glorious moonbeam to heaven.
Grace was the eighth child of Lewis and Margaret Handford born on August 6, 1929 and growing up in Creelman Saskatchewan. She loved reminiscing about small town tough life, with great friends and lots of family ball games. Grace learned to play the piano from her talented Mother. Life changed dramatically for the youngest of the family when Lewis passed away, Grace was just 14. With their mother and little brother Wally, Grace and her sister Rose ventured into Regina to quickly grow up into working women helping their mother and learning about paying rent! Grace was proud of the few years she worked in the Revenue Building, and she became involved in the music scene where she eventually met Norman in the operatic society. They had been dating for some time when Norm said he was coming over with a surprise. What a surprise… he sported a new brush cut (not the diamond Grace had been anticipating). That could have been the insight to frighten her off, but the romance continued and they were married April 11, 1953.
Married life for Grace included a new place to live – Norman’s family home which included his mother, Grandma Blanche lived with us the rest of her life. Grace and Norm had the upstairs (the bathroom was downstairs), and they lived there until daughter #4 was expected, and at that time took over the whole house. Life was busy with four little girls, Hallie, Laurie, Kathy and Norma, but to complete the family, Maureen arrived five years later for even more fun.
Grace and Norm were a team – always on the go and busy with some special event or other. Norm was of course the ringleader and often volunteering Grace to play the piano. Grace’s talented ear was evident to all who were able to join in the sing-song, but she never felt it was quite good enough. She accompanied her daughters in the school and church concerts, and we are so grateful for the gift of music that filled our home. Grace could play anything anytime.. we would play her a record, and she would quickly go to the piano and show us the notes and chords needed to learn to play the tune!
Faith in God and church family life was a big part in the lives of Grace and Norm. Although raised in the United church, Grace did become an Anglican upon her marriage, and the church family became their extended family. Church choirs benefitted from the alto Grace, and tenor Norm. Grace led the junior choir for many years when we were growing up. The church congregations soon learned that putting on a musical as often as possible was an important part of church life. From the time we were little until our own little ones could participate, many learned to enjoy the applause.
In 1972 Norman decided it was time to leave Regina, Grace tearfully came along. The nine passenger station wagon and tent trailer, followed by the volkswagon were loaded to the top and Kamloops became our home. Grace missed her family and neighbours, but quickly made new friends in the neighbourhood and at St. Paul’s – with four teenagers and eight year old Maureen, it was a very busy household. It wasn’t long before Grace saw an ad for the cabin at North Barriere Lake that became our new happy place for wonderful times, hard work and great celebrations. Grace’s 85th birthday at the lake was a special time for all of us, especially grand as Rose was with her and those two sisters were beaming. Five years later, her 90th birthday was just as fun, with Grace enjoying a paddle in the canoe.
Grace touched many in her life. She was Auntie Grace to not just her nephews and nieces but dozens of friends from everywhere we lived. There are guest books filled with visitors who knew there was always a meal and a bed – and likely a good card game or sing-song or even better, maybe the Roughriders had a game! There was always room for one more at Grace and Norm’s.
Grandchildren were a great addition to the family and all were special to Grace. It even got better when she became GG-Ma to the great-grands!
Grace was predeceased by her husband Norman after celebrating 66 married years, and by her grandson Scott, and her eight brothers and sisters. Surviving are her five daughters and their husbands, Hallie and Neil, Laurie and Paul, Kathy and Alex, Norma and George, Maureen and Mike; fourteen grandchildren and their spouses and twenty-six beautiful great grandchildren. Also surviving are her sister-in-law Vera, and numerous nieces, nephews and many close family friends.
Grace loved to support many charities (Cancer Society and Parkinsons in particular). You may wish to contribute to your favourite charity in her memory or perhaps you would like to support students wishing to attend the Kamloops Summer School of Music by contributing to the Kamloops Music Collective (bursary fund), Box 983, Kamloops BC V2C 6H1 www.kamloopsmusiccollective.ca
We would urge you to celebrate Grace by attending a school concert or play in your neighbourhood to keep the music playing.
St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Kamloops will be the scene of a memorial celebration of Grace on August 27, 2022 at 11:00 a.m.Print This Obituary & Condolences