Born: June 3, 1942, in Lisnaskea, N. Ireland.
Deceased: July 7, 2022
Father: Ernest Walter Patterson, born Enniskillen, N. Ireland
Mother: Martha Elliott Patterson (neé Graham), born Dysart, Scotland
Sisters: Pamela Redmond, Judith (Ron) Krebs
Husband: Wayne Irwin Richardson
Daughters: Karen (Alain) Desgagné, Astri (Zvjezdan) Patz,
Inga Richardson, Susan (Kevin) Packer
Grandsons: Domenic & Gabriel Desgagné
Alexander & Jason Patz
Karsten, Koen & Leo Packer
Granddaughters: Ida, Thalia & Katarina Packer
Pre-deceased by: Father, Mother, Brother-in-law Howard Redmond
Celia was born into a farming family in Northern Ireland. Her early life was marred by the death of her father from cancer two months after her twin sisters’ birth in 1946. Her mother moved her girls to Edinburgh, Scotland, where she had more support from her sister and her friends. There, Celia became very close to her Aunt Betty and Uncle George. Their boys were older, and her uncle became a surrogate father to her. He enjoyed singing baritone arias and took Celia to concerts, instilling in her a love of classical music. He also took her on long hikes in the Pentland Hills, exposing her to the joys of the countryside. Her aunt was a bookstore manager, so ensured that Celia was well-read.
Celia’s love of animals probably began on regular outings to the Edinburgh Zoo. She was delighted by the daily penguin parade; proximity to the zoo also allowed her to indulge in many elephant rides. At home, she cared for and trained her family’s pet Boxer dog (named Bracken after a fern native to Scotland – this was the first of two dogs to carry that name). Her first job was in a pet store feeding various animals and birds. They occasionally escaped from their cages on Celia’s watch.
As a girl, summer holidays meant returning to an uncle’s farm in Northern Ireland. She had fond memories of him squirting milk into her mouth directly from the cow, of being chased by a gander (not so fond a memory) and of exploring the farm environment with Mitchell, an older cousin. The rest of summer was spent at home in Scotland, at the seaside or on the promenade, enjoying gelato, licorice and curry. And rain.
Celia’s first job as a young adult was as a clerkess for the Scottish government, which she kept until she emigrated to Canada at age 21. Her mother had been encouraged to emigrate to Edmonton by friends who had done so a few years before. Celia was not keen but acquiesced when her mother and sisters said they would not go if she was not with them. As a child, family and friends called her by her second name, Ruth, and like Ruth from the Bible, she moved when those she loved moved.
Celia soon found herself happy in her new country. She obtained employment with the Alberta Department of Health and Welfare. She discovered that the sun was more dependable in Alberta than in Scotland, and much more enjoyable than the rain. She enjoyed countless hours soaking it up, often to the detriment of her comfort for a few days. Celia also found the neighbours quite friendly – one in particular. She married Wayne on October 1, 1966. Three months later, Wayne was transferred to a CIL office in New Toronto and the couple relocated to Bramalea. There Celia took an Accounts Payable position with Carter Carburetor, which she held until the arrival of their first daughter in 1970.
All her time in Bramalea was then devoted to raising her family. Celia was kind-hearted and caring and had considered taking nursing training. So, although she was initially uncertain whether motherhood was right for her, she took to it immediately. Three more daughters arrived. She was a generous and loving mother who always made delicious meals for her little girls, clothed them with many dresses she made, and took them to and from activities. She didn’t omit essential training in the finer things in life – regular mother and daughter walks were taken to the local Sara Lee cheesecake factory. She grew abundant tomatoes, peppers, and some Concord grapes, enjoyed knitting and embroidering scenes of flowers and birds, cared for the family dog, and took drawing classes at a local college. Somehow, she also managed to keep a spotless home, and look flawlessly elegant while doing it.
In 1980, Wayne and Celia moved back to the family farm in Brownfield. She had lived most of her life in large cities and the transition to country life was not easy for her. Acres of garden, gravel roads. Tiny motorhome kitchens on family vacations. Here, not as much sewing – dresses were not everyday school clothes – but other things emerged to fill her time. Hungry teenagers meant lots of time in the kitchen and perfecting charcoal barbecue. She had a knack for finding the best recipes, but many meals were delivered with an apology – her standard was perfection. She cultivated many houseplants, but (cacti aside), they tended not to thrive, to her chagrin. A driver’s license became a necessity but learning to drive as an adult was approached with some trepidation. However, the pickup soon became the family taxi, and she was a busy driver.
In Alberta, Celia’s love of animals translated into more dogs (all rescues), a love affair with horses (not reciprocated), painstakingly handfeeding rejected newborn kittens, and endlessly removing quills from her last Boxer (until she decided he needed a porcupine-free city environment). One day later in life, Celia opened the front door to find a new black “cat.” It had white stripes. She calmly reached down and stroked its lovely soft tail a few times without incident.
Celia was a very private person, but Wayne and her daughters remember her creativity and flair for the dramatic. Celia had natural artistic ability. She could also quote Shakespeare and Kipling, and her spontaneous composition of rap lyrics amused the few who were lucky enough to hear them. She loved to laugh — Herman comics and Ken Davis comedy sketches left her almost breathless. Celia loved music her entire life (for years she had the C&W radio station on much of the day) and delighted attending musical & theatrical performances in Alliance, Coronation, Castor and Rosebud with family. Her musical tastes covered the gamut of genres, although she preferred rhythmic toe-tapping pieces. Her very keen ears also gave her the ability to automatically, and mostly unconsciously, adopt the accent of the person she was speaking to, and sound Canadian, apart from occasional use of a British phrase. This was on display in Celia’s sole theatrical endeavour (playing the role of a German spy in a Brownfield performance). Celia put her own spin on what it looked like to be a farmer’s wife.
When the nest was empty, Celia had time for more hikes in the countryside. She caught Wayne’s rock collecting habit (and gave him a fossil collecting one), expanded her use of nature’s artistry to decorate the house, and happily accompanied Wayne to local fairs and craft markets. She also attended and enjoyed many AAMDC conventions and Agricultural Service Board tours with Wayne. She loved to watch movies with him, read for hours with a dictionary by her side and enjoyed many games of Scrabble. And she eagerly anticipated trips to the cities to visit her sisters and her daughters’ families.
When Celia enjoyed something, she allowed herself to enjoy it fully. This meant occasional tummy aches from too many Spanish peanuts (“Scrumpdiddlyumptious!”) or too much homemade ice cream (often the couple made and polished off a litre or two late at night after the girls were in bed – at least until they grew wise to the routine). There was often a Majesty magazine on the kitchen table beside the empty peanuts bag when the girls returned home from school; she always made a point of keeping up with news about Britain’s royal family. As grandchildren began to arrive, it meant occasional (happy) exhaustion from agreeing one too many times to a child’s request for “One more game, PLEASE Nana!” Celia was a playful and energetic grandmother who adored her grandchildren, doted on them, and was in turn adored by them.
Celia was sensitive and compassionate, noticing and caring for anyone who seemed to be overlooked, particularly the elderly. She hand-wrote newsy letters and cards to friends and family, in particular her beloved sisters (Pamela and Judith), cousins (Mitchell & his wife Jessie, Joan & her husband Wesley, Fletcher & his wife Evelyn, and Allan) and childhood friends (Marjorie and Eleanor). But motherhood was her great labour of love; she loved her daughters sacrificially, was their biggest cheerleader and gave them the great blessing of a peaceful and happy childhood.
We miss you so much Celia, Mum, Nana. You were the star of our show.
Rest in peace with your Savior.