Slemp, Gladys: An elegant yet feisty lady

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The more that you read, the more things you know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.
(Dr. Seuss)

Gladys Muriel Carter was born in Coronation on July 29, 1937, the only child of Cecil Carter and Helen Price.

Helen moved to Calgary to work and support her family while Gladys lived with her grandparents, George and Lily Price. They had a great influence on her life and helped to shape her into a wise person.

She attended her earliest school grades in Calgary, returning home to complete elementary through to grade 12 in Coronation and was her class valedictorian. Her mother later married Ray Neal and Gladys was delighted to be sister to Bonnie, Ken and Ross Neal.

Many will believe Skip caught her eye when she was just 15, but Gladys would tell you she actually remembers going to the Fleet Store with her mother, and a young spoiled Skip would be riding around on his tricycle banging into their heels.  Helen would always remark what a spoiled little kid he was.

They started dating and enjoyed each other’s company for 57 years. They were both 22 years old when they exchanged wedding vows on April 2, 1960 at Trinity United Church. Their lives were enriched with the arrival of their daughters Tracy (1965), Marla (1967), and Kerri (1970). They were thrilled with the birth of their son, Rick in 1974. Skip and Gladys were married for 49 years when he passed in 2009. She missed him so much but memories of laughter, music and family adventures for this busy family gave her strength.

In 1961, Skip and Gladys bought an old travel trailer and began a lifetime of adventures heading out to Czar Lake, Gull Lake and the Okanagan, BC. Often these adventures were shared with Sadie and Cecil Caseley, Bill and Bubbles Bullick and their families. Gladys would pack up the trailer on Thursday night so Skip could gas it up at noon on Friday and everyone was ready to head out for family adventures at five when Skip finished work.

They eventually placed their trailer at Pine Lake and enjoyed visiting, fishing and water skiing. Skip died six and a half years ago but Gladys carried on this weekly summer trek because she wanted to spend time with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren as well as many wonderful friends. This would have been her 31st year of weekends at Pine Lake.

Marla shared their family adventure of travel in a van to California in 1982. Can you picture four kids dispersed in the three seats of the van, Gladys with five maps spread across her lap and on the dash, eight lanes of traffic and Skip spitting sunflower seeds out the window, pinging off stranger’s cars as Gladys tried to convince him not to take the next exit?

On that same trip, the kids were in a swimming pool close to Disneyland when suddenly unexpected fireworks exploded nearby and Gladys was frantic thinking there were gunshots! Gladys scurried out, ran to the pool and demanded the kids get back to the room immediately.

Tracy recalled another memory from that trip when they stopped in Provo, Utah on a Sunday afternoon and the van refused to start. Skip was so mad he hit the starter with a hammer, the engine started and they made it back to Alberta. Life was always interesting and fun-filled at the Slemp’s.

Kerri remembers the amazing birthday cakes including Big Bird, Barbie Doll, Oscar the Grouch and a special one Gladys made with cream puffs to resemble the Easter Bunny. Gladys liked to prepare everything and was organized in advance for family feasts.

Rick, being the youngest sibling, slept on a Murphy bed in Gladys’s sewing room. He recalls falling asleep as his Mom sewed clothes, amazing Hallowe’en costumes and bridesmaid dresses. Rick admired her skill as an artist, he, and each of his sisters have Family trees Gladys painted. Other subjects included paintings of the house in Fleet and a favourite truck.

Gladys started working after graduation at the Weather Office in Coronation with Marion Lamontagne, Eugene Rovensky and Riley Workman. She worked as Meteorologist Officer for nine years but chose to remain at home before Tracy was born. Rick recalled visiting the Coronation Memorial Library where Gladys worked part time starting in 1979.

The girls remembered their Mother studying late at night to improve her qualifications. Her family were thrilled when she was honoured by Parkland Regional Library as Librarian of the Year in 1999.

She continued working at the Coronation Library for several years after Skip retired in 2002.

Gladys and I started “Tuesday Sisters Book Club” many years ago to meet with friends to discuss a variety of challenging, entertaining and controversial topics and to get together for fellowship.

Her love of books, extensive knowledge and understanding of characters and words made her the solid core of our group. She truly believed Dr.Seuss’s quotation about the importance of reading and exploring our world through books.

Gladys spent countless hours researching information about the Schlemp/Slemp family and located ancestors going back eight generations to the late 1600s. In the preface of the extensive volume she published, she stated: “To know where you’re going you must first know from where you came.” She also stated: “I expect that this consuming pastime of “digging for our roots “ will consume much of my remaining years.”

Her trip with Kerri to Ireland to learn more about her Cowan and Switzer roots was a memorable experience for both Kerri and her mom.

She posted on the internet an open offer to help strangers by locating headstones at the Coronation Cemetery and trying to find obituaries. I know she made many friends through her interest in genealogy and the courses she taught through Further Education.  She assisted many adopted people to find their birth families using her Genealogical skills.

Music has always been important to both Skip and Gladys. He and Cecil encouraged Sadie and Gladys to take music lessons for three years in Stettler when Kerri was quite young. Sadie played the sax and Gladys the clarinet. Sadie said Gladys was a wonderful listener and so honest and trustworthy.

Gladys has been described by her friends as an elegant yet feisty lady who was interested in the world and in politics. Her routine included reading at least two daily newspapers. She was up to date on the latest technology texting family and skyping with grand and great grandchildren whom she adored! Gladys was a happy, positive person whose priority was her family, her friends, her pets (including tiny Meeka), her community and her garden.

Rick remembers the summer he and Skip dug out the water garden and worked so hard to make the Slemp backyard a piece of heaven, a safe spot for bluejays, woodpeckers, hummingbirds and those hated crows! Gladys had a green thumb and grew beautiful roses, clematis and peonies. She and Skip treasured winning the 1992 Beautification Residential Award presented by the Coronation Chamber of Commerce.

We will remember Gladys as a wonderful friend to many. We will miss her giggles, laugh and enjoyment of a good joke. She was a faithful member of the 55+ Bible Study Group and appreciated their support and encouragement to know Our Lord.

At our March Book Club, hosted by Gladys, we discussed “The Nightingale “ by Kristen Hannah. One of the characters commented: “You are my sunlight in the dark and the ground beneath my feet.” To each of Gladys’s family, this summarizes how important and loved each of you were to her. She enriched the lives of countless people but now it is time to bid farewell.

Gladys is survived by her mother, Helen Neal, her daughters: Tracy (Dwayne) Reberger, and her children Kristin (Kris) Kremp ((Isabella and Tye)) and Logan Graham, Marla (Curtis) Rush and her son Travis; Kerri (James) McPhee and her daughters, Rebecca and Lauren; and her son Rick (Sandra) Slemp and her daughters Melissa, Alicia and Amber ((Mia)); sister, Bonnie Stephenson, brother Ken (Dolores) Neal, sister-in-law Tina Fox, brother-in-law, Buzz Slemp; as well as numerous nieces and nephews and many dear friends.

Gladys was predeceased by her husband Richard “Skip” Slemp on October 24, 2009; her grandparents George and Lily Price, stepfather Ray Neal and brother, Ross Neal.

Gladys Muriel Slemp passed away in Red Deer Regional Hospital on May 5th, 2016 at the age of 78 years.
A funeral service for Gladys was held on Friday, May 13, 2016, 2 p.m., at the Coronation Community Centre with Pastor Clayton Grice officiating. Brenda Brigley was the soloist and she was accompanied by Barbie Berg and Margaret Evans. Pat Watson gave the loving tribute.  The lunch was held at the Community Centre which was prepared and served by the Evangelical Church Women.

Memorial donations may be made in Gladys’ memory to the Coronation Memorial Library, Box 453, Coronation, AB, T0C 1C0 or to the charity of one’s choice.  Heather Caseley of Coronation Funeral Home, P.O. Box 358 Coronation, Alberta, TOC 1CO, 403.578.2928, was entrusted with the care and funeral arrangements. Condolences can be forwarded to the family by visiting our website at

Cards of Thanks

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for thei expressions of sympathy through flowers, cards, phone calls, hugs, food dropped off at the house, lawn maintenance, attendance at the funeral and memorial donations.  Your support will always be remembered.

Mom loved the supportive community she lived in and her friends and the groups she belonged to which brought her many hours of shared laughter, discussions and debates.  You were always there for her, which allowed her to continue to live so independently.

Pastor Grice, we thank you for your kindness and compassion for mom and the family.  The ladies of the Evangelical Free Church for the wonderful lunch you provided after the service.

Pat Watson for sharing such a memorable eulogy and Barbie, Margaret and Brenda for your gift of music.
Heather Caseley and the Coronation Funeral Home, for your patience and professionalism, caring about the smaller meaningful things, and providing such a beautiful service.  You are family.

A special thanks to the Gerber’s for keeping up the yard maintenance.

A simple thank you to everyone will never be enough, but is meant with the utmost gratitude.
Family of Gladys Slemp

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