Nancy slipped away Monday, January 18, 2021 in her Retirement Home after contracting asymptomatic COVID.
Nancy was born in Toronto, on November 29, 1929. She was the middle of three daughters to Gordon and Bessie Lonsdale. She married Douglas Chelsea Rowe on June 23, 1953 at St. James-Bond United Church. They were married for 62 years and lived in North York while raising their three children, David, Susan, and Brian, before moving to Don Mills in retirement.
Doug and Nancy met through their families, as they were long time friends. When Nancy was born her mother borrowed Doug’s baby bassinette for Nancy to sleep in. This bassinette was later used by their children, and most of their grandchildren and great grandchildren. Nancy’s family also rented the cottage next to Doug’s family cottage on Killarney Bay for several summers. Later Doug inherited his family’s cottage, and this became a very important part of Nancy and Doug’s life together, bringing so much joy and wonderful memories.
Nancy loved looking after children from an early age. Before she was old enough to babysit, she would help mothers with their little ones. After graduation she became a nursery school teacher before becoming a mother. Nancy went back to teaching when all of her three children were in school. She continued to enjoy teaching the little ones until she retired to help look after her first grandchildren, Krista and Kimber. As her grandchildren got older, she would “borrow” babies to help young parents have a break.
Helping others has always been an important focus for Nancy. She was very active in the church, as a Sunday school teacher and a member of many church committees, right into her 80’s. She was also the head of Sue’s explorer group when Sue was young. When Nancy and Doug moved to the Donway Place Retirement Residence, Nancy enthusiastically welcomed new residents and helped them to feel at home.
Nancy continued to go to church every Sunday right up to the COVID-19 lockdown last spring. By then she was using an electric wheelchair, but off she would go in a wheelchair taxi with her cell phone in her pocket, continuing to be an engaged member of her community. This was a highlight of her week. Nancy also looked forward to shopping at the Dollar Store every other week so she could find little things to brighten up other people’s days.
Since Nancy was such a social person, the isolation due to the pandemic was extremely hard on her. She declined quickly. During the last few months, she often talked about what fun the great grandchildren were going to have at Balsam Lake as they grew and loved the thought of them carrying on this family tradition. She enjoyed looking at a framed picture of a Balsam sunset and reminiscing about the wonderful times at the cottage.
Nancy got to see her three newest great grandchildren, Kate, Jack, and Zachariah, just before the fall lockdown when visits were still possible outside. She was kept in a constant supply of photographs of them, which brought her much joy. We were so fortunate she was able to attend the very small christening for Zachariah on her 91st birthday, on November 29, at her beloved church. Nancy is survived by her sons David (Karen) and Brian (Hydee), and her daughter Susan (Don), along with her grandchildren, Darcy and Julia (Mariusz), Bradley (Mahta) and Matt (Haleigh), Krista (Nitin) and Kimber. As well as her great grandchildren, Liam (Brad and Mahta), Kate and Jack (Julia and Mariusz) and Zachariah (Krista and Nitin). She is also survived by her two sisters, Ruth (Betty) Woodside and Mary Gibson.
There will be a small family celebration of life in the future when we may gather and remember Nancy as she would have wanted. A beautiful sugar maple will be planted in her memory by Doug’s memorial bench at the little parkette on Balsam Lake by the cottage. For those that wish to, donations can be made to Jubilee United Church.