On November 27, 2021, 21 with heavy hearts we said Good-bye to our Mom, Verbena Mae Turnbull at Hartney Community Health Centre. Mom was born September 17, 1940 at Souris Hospital to Eddie & Eva Maguire, the youngest of 8. She was predeceased by her dance partner and husband, Howard Turnbull. Her brothers; Melford, Jack, George and his wife Jean, and her beloved sister Gwenda (married to Bob Hughes). Brother in law, Arnold Sagman (married to sister Eileen). Sister in law Corrine (Turnbull) Elliot and brother in law Lloyd Turnbull. She is survived by her sisters Eileen Sagman and Audrey (Tom) Sundell, brother Glenn (Marion) Maguire and sister in law Dorothy (Turnbull) Robinson. Her children; Theresa Wood (Shawna & Jamie Sucart), Tracy & Bill Hodgson (Jessica & Billy , great grandson Reed Marks), (Brett & Luanne, great grandson Will Hodgson), Ted & Joanna Turnbull (Melissa & Aaron, great grandson Owen Hemminger), ( Jordan & Emily, great granddaughter, Olivia Turnbull), (Dustin & Kaleigh, great grandson Rennyn Turnbull), Michyla Turnbull & Colby Hamel. Special nieces Wendy Toews, Karen Borne and Cindy Cairns.
In 2020 “Grandma Bena” wrote an autobiography, a collection of stories of her life. This is a great keepsake for the family . She shared many stories about growing up on the farm, south of Elgin. Going to dances at Riverside, Deloraine and Souris, Halloween pranks, working at Bing Juke’s Drive Inn as a car hop from grade 11 through her teacher’s training. At the tender age of 14, she lost her father after a series of heart attacks. Life was challenging but the family made it work. Mom received her teacher’s certificate from Brandon College in the late 50’s, taught in Keye’s and then at Dand, where she developed many life long friendships. From her book, “I was a terrible teacher and felt sorry for those kids having to learn from me.” Teaching was not her calling. She first met dad, Howard Turnbull, at a school dance in Elgin, 1959. That was the beginning of many fast dances together. In 1961 they were married. They lived at the Experimental farm in Brandon until 1964. This is where they started their family and beekeeping journey. Theresa, was born in 1962, Tracy came along in 1964 and Ted in 1967. The family moved back to Elgin where they bought a house for $1000 with a 2 car garage, perfect set up for the bees.
At the age of 24 with 2 kids of their own, Mom and Dad started looking after foster children. In excess of 40 children of all ages were looked after by Mom over the years. Our cousins, Wendy, Karen and Cindy Maguire also lived with us. Mom provided love and stability for us all. The Rummoli table was full!!! At that time Mom and Dad were building the honey farm and all the extra hands helped out immensely. Somehow Mom was able to keep all of us fed and watered, clean clothes on our backs and helped in the extracting room when needed. The work was not without time for play. On occasion, Dad would come home and say, “Mother, pack up the kids and lets go!” Without a blink of an eye the station wagon was packed and off we went. This love of travel continued throughout Mom’s life.
Dad and Mom took trips with their siblings, friends and grandchildren. In her early 40’s, she decided to fulfill her life long dream of being a nurse just like her big sister Eileen. She completed her LPN course at Brandon, then worked at the personal care home in Boissevain and Souris. We were all very proud of her. She enjoyed this time immensely. Throughout her life, Mom was very involved with her children’s sports and extra curricular activities. The Church has always been very important to her. She was the choir director for many years in Elgin, played the piano and a member of the UCW. She tried her darndest to get us all up to tempo for the Candle Light services every year (to limited success).
As the years went on Mom took time for herself with curling, golf and gardening just to name a few. She always had a knitting project on the go. Many of us have beautiful sweaters and blankets as special keepsakes. Her entrepreneurial spirit took her knitting to the next level. She opened up a business in Souris to sell other items on consignment and her knitting. She enjoyed her time with her customers and friends.
Her love of gardening opened an opportunity to work at Sadler’s Greenhouse in the spring helping plant the seeds for the upcoming summers. She thoroughly enjoyed this time of year. Mom was Grandma Bena to her grandchildren. They all have fond memories of hot chocolate after skating, and the occasional “dead” cookie as she called them. Grandma Bena was always present in the moment for the kids. She loved being a part of their day to day lives and celebrating their accomplishments. Grandma Bena’s door was always open and she never failed to provide a word of encouragement and wisdom.
Mom and Dad’s life became more challenging later on when Dad’s health began to deteriorate. Throughout this time, Mom’s devotion and compassion shone through. With Dad in personal care, Mom decided it was time to sell the house and she moved to an apartment in Brandon. Shortly there after, Dad passed away. This was a very difficult time for us all, but Mom continued to hold the family together. Her life in Brandon gave her the opportunity to meet new friends and reacquaint with some life long friends. She took advantage of this time to try some new activities such as lawn bowling, computer courses, volunteering and of course joining her new church friends and groups. We are so thankful that Mom had such a strong circle of friends that helped her through the loss of Dad and the challenges of her cancer diagnosis.
With the challenges of Covid, we had a small family funeral service in the Elgin United Church on December 6, 2021. This was a beautiful setting full of memories and comfort. Our families shared some comical stories and a few tears. The hymns were sung at a good pace as Mom loved. A time of fellowship with many friends and family was shared that afternoon as well. Donations in memory of Mom, can be made at your discretion.