Grace Kathleen Annie Neilson (nee Hyatt)
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Grace Neilson passed away Sunday, August 16th at La Verendrye Hospital in Fort Frances with her family nearby and in her heart. In the final hours before her passing, she spoke with care and concern about each of her family members.
Mom was born to Noble and Annie Hyatt on March 27, 1936 at Mrs. Fulford’s nursing home in Emo, Ont. She was the 10th child of 12 that were born into this Hyatt Family.
As a child, Mom walked 2 and a half miles to school, and at age 10 she took on the janitor job at the school. Her first pay cheque was used to purchase a lamp for the family home. In her teenage and early adult years Mom worked at various jobs, primarily in the local area. Mom met Dad while working in Nestor Falls at Clark and Crombie’s tourist camp. They married April 20, 1956 when Mom was twenty years old and together had four children.
Mom embraced family life and her community. She was welcoming to anyone who stopped in and neighbours were always invited to stay for a meal. Mom was a great cook and she loved to bake, making large batches of bread every week and other treats. She often sent her kids to deliver fresh baked bread to the bachelor neighbours who lived close by. Every year Mom grew a large garden and you could be certain the extra bounty was shared with other families in the community. An avid reader, Mom especially enjoyed spending time reading through and trying new recipes from one of her many cook books, or she was at the kitchen table reviewing her seed catalogues, planning next years garden. Whether it was cooking, gardening, canning vegetables, or raising chickens for meat and eggs, Mom worked hard and excelled at these skills.
Mom volunteered in the community. She was a member of the North Branch Women’s Group, often cooking or baking to support community suppers. She was a 4-H Leader and passed her skills along to young participants and kept members involved, sometimes driving them home after 4-H meetings. For many years Mom canvassed for the Canadian Cancer Society and she taught Sunday School at the local Church.
Mom was the best caregiver and taught us to appreciate the cycle of life and to care for animals. It was not unusual to be bottle feeding a new piglet or new born calf in the house, keeping them warm in front of the heater so they could get a proper start in life. And she would stop everything to help you find needed supplies for the new hamster or a big jar to catch fireflies or other bugs.
After family grew older, Mom worked at a variety of seasonal jobs. She planted trees, helped to build different buildings as the Stratton Sales Barn, and even received cattle; a task that some of the old crotchety cattle handlers thought was “men’s work”. A hardy and capable worker, Mom could handle these jobs and gained respect for anything she took on.
Mom enjoyed sports and being physically active. In her earlier years she played catcher in a soft ball league in Dryden. She encouraged her kids to be involved in any school sports. Mom was a die-hard Chicago Blackhawks fan, particularly during the Hull brother’s era. She followed the Toronto Blue Jays, and was a proud fan, helping to cheer this baseball team to a World Series win. Mom and Dad enjoyed spending time hunting together. They also square danced for many years, and made many good and long lasting friendships through this activity.
Mom enjoyed the outdoors and appreciated what nature provided. She enjoyed watching a variety of birds at her feeders and ensured she had many flowers and a small feeder near the window for the Hummingbirds. In recent years a main activity was watching and feeding “her bobcats” that would come to the feeder.
Mom loved life and we loved her. She will be missed greatly by many.
Grace is lovingly remembered by her children, Michael (Joanne) of Willowbrook, Sask., Colin (Trish) of North Branch, Shannon (Terry) Kawulia of Fort Frances, and Heather (Francis) Clayton of Gorham, Ont., and her grandchildren, Matthew (Blanca), James (Blanca), Hunter and Tanner Neilson, and, Sydney, Madison and Erin Clayton. She is also survived by her brother Fred (Evelyn) Hyatt of Thunder Bay, sister Sylvia Beadle of Fort Frances, and sister-in-laws, Louise Neilson of Fort Frances and Dixie Kivi of North Branch, as well as many nieces, nephews and extended family members.
Grace was predeceased by her spouse, Keith Neilson and grandson Luke Clayton; her parents, Noble and Annie Hyatt, sisters, Shirley Mills, Vivian Cole, Eunice Booth, Aileen Strachan, Joyce Walton; brothers, ‘Jack’ (John), Angus, George and Joseph Hyatt; her in-laws Niels and Stella Neilson and numerous extended family members.
“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”