It is with very mixed emotions that we announce the passing of Alice Ferguson: sad news that the strong and courageous Grand Matriarch of our small family is gone, and yet relief that God granted her wishes to “just go Home” as she realized she could not win her battle with COVID-19, despite having been vaccinated. She passed into His presence the evening of Sept. 28, 2021.
Mom was born Alice Ethel Stubbs on Feb. 14, 1919, to Henry and Stella (Veer) Stubbs near Borden, SK., the youngest of a family of five. In 1929, the family moved to the Moose Plains district, east of Nipawin. She had fond recollections of harrowing new breaking with a team of four horses at the age of 11, with brother Art nearby with his team. She became a capable horsewoman both at driving a team and horseback riding. Theirs was a musical family with numerous instruments, making the Stubbs Family Orchestra popular on Saturday nights at schoolhouses and community halls in the area. It was at one of those dances that she first spotted Aldred Otto Miller, recently arrived from southern Manitoba, from her vantage point on the stage. They married on Aug. 21, 1942, and soon after, Dad enlisted. She followed him to Maple Creek and Camp Borden, and then, when he was sent overseas from Halifax, she moved to Barrie, Ont., where she worked in a meatpacking plant making wieners for the soldiers. She learned to sail on Lake Simcoe. Returning home to Saskatchewan, she moved a house into Nipawin and had several Pleasantview School (now Wagner) teachers board with her and become lifelong friends. She became a presser at Andres Dry Cleaners. She and her brother Art would often provide entertainment on the piano and violin at social gatherings during the War. It was an exciting day when the telegram came in 1946 announcing that Dad was returning home! Because it was Dad’s lifelong desire to be a farmer, the next chapter of life saw them selecting farmland which needed to be cleared and broke in the Botany district NW of Nipawin in 1952. I, Peggi Norine, arrived in 1953, their only child. Mom spent the next years picking roots and supporting Dad as they continued to live in Nipawin while developing the farm. In the spring of 1966, she planted 1700 willow seedlings as a windbreak along the borders of the property, which still exist today. A farmyard was developed, electricity arrived in 1964, and a well and new house in 1968. In February of 1972 Mom found herself a widow literally overnight as Dad was diagnosed with cancer and died the next day. She bravely departed for Wascana Institute that fall to become a medical secretary/transcriptionist and worked a short period of time at the Grey Nuns’ Hospital as a ward clerk, returning to Nipawin to employment for several dentists as office manager and receptionist. In 1980 she married Ken Ferguson who became a wonderful grandfather to our three sons. They had a wonderful retirement together, spending winters in southern Texas and later B.C. With Ken’s passing in 1995, Mom found herself living alone again, until at 97½ in 2017, with limited vision and some new medical problems, the move was made to Arborfield Special Care Lodge, where she was well cared-for and loved.
Mom had a full, rich life. She was “second mom” to several of my girlfriends who were always welcome in our home and at our table. In 1959, after the regular kindergarten teacher moved away, she took over that daily task in our living room. She was always actively working in the community; canvassing door-to-door for various charities; working at civic, provincial, and federal elections, and at the annual Music Festivals; serving as Sec. Treas. for Happy Harvesters’ Old-time Dance Club, the Horticultural Society, and Nipawin Seniors; helped to put the world’s largest quilt together; mended all the Nipawin Hawks sweaters when they were actually knitted material while Dad was their equipment manager; was a Hunters’ Safety instructor, although her own hunting was only to fill our dinner table with rabbits and prairie chickens. She assisted the Public Health Nurses with their annual flu clinics; was a lifetime member of Senior Citizens and Legion Auxiliary; directed Choral Belles, a local choir; and was a member of First Baptist Church. Each of her grandsons lived with her at some point and she flew alone, into her late 80’s, to visit Nathan in Texas and California. She was a good cook and given to hospitality. When Mom’s vision began to deteriorate and she could no longer drive, she used her telephone to encourage her friends and stay connected. She adjusted well to life at Arborfield and never complained.
We love you, Mom. You were a wonderful mother and grandmother.
She leaves to mourn her passing and cherish her memory Peggi and Ed Maier; grandsons Damon (and Teresa) and sons Elijah and Kelly; Nathan (and Emily); and Stephen (and Bonnie) and children River, Clayton, Lily, Hunter, and Harmony; Ken’s children Douglas (and Janet) and Joan, and their families; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Mom was predeceased by parents Henry and Stella Stubbs, brothers John, Jack, and Art Stubbs, and sister Susan Swan, and their spouses; husbands Aldred Miller and Kenneth Ferguson; parents-in-law Otto and Jane Miller, and Angus and Annie Ferguson; and a niece and nephew.