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With great sadness, we announce the death of Elizabeth (Betty) Flemming. She was born in New Waterford, Nova Scotia on February 1, 1940, and passed away peacefully, with her family at her side, on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, in Calgary, Alberta. She was predeceased by her husband, Raymond, in 2012.
The eldest of twenty-two siblings, Betty was the second child born to Margaret (McPhee) and Arthur McMullin. In 1957, at the age of seventeen, she was accepted to St. Francis Xavier (St. FX) University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Although she was only able to attend for two semesters, she remembered the experience fondly for many years. She moved to Calgary in 1958, followed by Raymond Flemming, a hometown boy, and they were married in November 1961. Their first child, Margaret Lynn, was born in 1963, and then Jennifer Lee was born in 1968. Over the years, many of Betty’s surviving eight sisters and seven brothers also made their own way out West and call Calgary their home today.
Starting out as a secretary at Gulf Canada, Elizabeth discovered quickly that the oil patch was where she wanted to build a career. Not long afterward, she became a “Landman”, one of the first women in Alberta to hold the job. Her career took some different directions, but always within the oil industry. She retired in the early 1990s at which time she and Ray moved out to Strathmore. They were happy to say goodbye to the snow and spend their winters in Arizona. In 2011, Ray and Betty celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary.
From her earliest days in Calgary, Elizabeth was a member of the public library. Reading was her first love and one that she enjoyed until the end of her life. Her favourite genres were mystery, spy fiction, and historical fiction. It was not unusual for a stack of ten or more books to come home from the library only to be traded for another stack two weeks later. She shared this love of books and libraries with everyone, but especially with her children and grandchildren. As a devout Catholic, she enjoyed the writing of Pope Francis, and reading scripture was a daily ritual, either alone or with a prayer group.
Of her many talents, Elizabeth will be admired for her penmanship, her practicality, and her cooking, notably the annual Christmas Eve Chinese food feast. She was also a lover of card games, something she continued to enjoy with her friends at Ranchland Estates in her later years. As Mrs. Claus, she brought the family a new game every year. Playing these games became a family tradition. While many were loved, “Trivial Pursuit” was, by far, the favourite. Elizabeth completed a crossword puzzle every day, enjoyed deciphering the Decodaquote, and was a devoted watcher of Jeopardy!
Elizabeth loved music. Her vinyl collection ranged from the classics to musicals, crooners to Christmas. But her favourites were talented vocalists because her passion was singing. On a quiet evening, she and her husband Ray routinely sang along to many of the albums in the collection. They also enjoyed tuning the radio to Cafe Europa on a Saturday evening, usually paired with a European meal. Betty also loved to listen to Live from the MET (opera) on a Saturday morning. Singing was the most fun, however, when singing with others. Many a “sing-song” was hosted in the Flemming home. No campfire at the Invermere property would have been complete without Elizabeth leading everyone in song. Singing was such an integral part of family life that the dinner table was declared a “no singing” zone.
Another of Elizabeth’s passions was genealogy. Always the family record keeper, in retirement she had the time to dig deeper into the family roots. A highlight of her research was going to New Brunswick to access records about the Acadian branch of the family. Her interest extended to her husband’s family and the families into which her daughters married. More than once she was able to assist a family member with ancestry questions. Elizabeth was very adept at using the Internet in her genealogical detective work. Many times, she shared a story about an email or a photograph she received from some long-lost, distant relative. When genetic testing came around, she couldn’t resist knowing more. One of the outcomes was the discovery of a cousin (on Ray’s side of the family), living in Europe.
Elizabeth will be lovingly remembered by her two daughters, Lynn (Michael) Amann, and Jennifer (Alcide) Flamand. She was the much-loved “Nan” to Lyle (Angie) Flamand, Tyler Flamand, and Monika Amann. She will be greatly missed by her seven brothers, Don (Shirley), Vince (Karen), John (Sylvia), Gerard, Michael (Nicole), Peter, and Kenneth (Claire); and her eight sisters, Margaret Rose, Anne Marie (Denny), Patricia (Wally), Mary (Frank), Agnes (Lorne), Geralyn (Joe), Andrea (Don), and Kathy (Danny). In addition, she will be remembered by numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends. Betty was predeceased by her sister Elaine in 2018; her father Arthur in 1980; and her mother Margaret in 2009.
The family extends its gratitude to her Strathmore family, Bob and Marilyn, Karen and Senley, Sylvia, and Kathy; and the many other wonderful neighbours for their overwhelming support with groceries, doctor visits, and the care and maintenance of her home. You have our greatest appreciation. Thank you.
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Sacred Heart Catholic Church (1307-14 Street SW) on Friday, May 26, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. with live streaming* of the service available through the link below. Elizabeth always said that flowers are for the living, so in lieu of flowers, please gift them to someone special in your life.