Audrey Elizabeth was welcomed into this world by her parents Albert and Evelyn (Caskanette) Heidmiller on March 27, 1928, in Riversdale. Along with her siblings John, Bill, Ed, Albert, Mary, and Myrtle, the Heidmiller family grew up in Riversdale. Audrey attended St. Ann’s school in Riversdale.
Audrey enjoyed attending local dances with her siblings, and her friends, hitting up dances in Formosa, Mildmay, and Cargill. One particular night at a dance in Cargill, she met a young strapping man by the name of Francis Kuntz. They hit it off instantly and danced the night away. In 1947, Francis purchased a 150 acre farm on Concession 14, outside of Carlsruhe, for only $9,000, and $3,000 for the bush. Audrey and Francis were married on March 29, 1948 at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Riversdale, and then she joined Francis on the farm. Why this day, you might ask? There were two reasons. The first reason being it was two days after her 20th birthday, the legal age to get married, and the second was because it was Easter Monday, and they couldn’t get married on Easter Sunday! Audrey never shied away from hard work. She was running horses and helping with chores on the farm. As a newlywed couple, they didn’t wait long to start their family with the arrival of Joan, shortly after followed by Wayne, Pat, Tom, Paul, Phillip, Doreen, Ann, Dan, and Eugene. Audrey never had time to work outside the home, as she was busy raising her large family. She always had meals made and treats baked for her family and the workers on the farm.
When her children were young, they would spend many winter days on the frozen pond at the back of their property. Audrey and Francis never joined in, except for one special day when Audrey decided to join the kids as the goalie. It was all going well until she fell and broke her hip, and her goalie career was over! After that, when the kids would skate, Audrey would stay at the house and have caramel popcorn ready for when they were done. Although juggling a large family, Audrey never received her driver’s licence. She only got behind the wheel once, but after driving into a gate behind the barn, she never drove again! 🙂
In 1986, Francis and Audrey made the move to Walkerton. Francis knew that if something were to happen to him, he wanted Audrey to be set up in a location that was accessible to everything she needed. Their home was in the perfect location. She was close to the post office, the church, grocery store, Second Hand Rose (where she volunteered), and the main street. Francis passed away in 1992, and her son Eugene also passed away in 1999, at the age of 30. Audrey struggled with these losses but had her faith, her family and community support to help her stay strong.
Audrey volunteered at the Second Hand Rose for 37 years. She was proud of the charity work that the store did, and that a lot of the money went to Right to Life. She was also an active member of the Catholic Women’s League for 60 years, beginning as a member with St. Francis Xavier Church in Carlsruhe, and continued as a member when they moved to Walkerton. Audrey was also a part of the Neustadt Ag Society. While on the farm, Audrey had a huge vegetable garden and also spent many hours in her flower beds. She enjoyed seeing her hard work pay off with the growth of beautiful flowers and food in the summer for her family. She kept this love going when she moved into Walkerton, being very proud of her flowers at the front of her house. Audrey had a skill for baking that was unmatched. Her Christmas cake, butter tarts, and bread were like none other. In fact, her bread was so famous around town that the CWL would ask Audrey to donate bread to their events every year. She also had mastered baking cookies. Any type of cookie she made, never lasted long, as they were a hit with her family every time. Every year, Audrey would also do canning and preserving.
Audrey loved playing cards, with Solo being her favourite. If you ask her family, they would say her favourite games were the ones when she won! 🙂 Audrey played cards three times a week, travelling with different friends to games in Mildmay, Chepstow, and the Walkerton Legion, with Sacred Heart Church and the Walkerton Library being where she played the most cards. Audrey was well known for her knitting skills. She used to knit mittens and continued to knit slippers and dishcloths. Every year for Christmas, she would give these as gifts to her family members (with such a large family, that is a lot of slippers and dishcloths!!) During Covid, knitting was the main thing that helped her get through that tough time when everything was closed, and her family could not visit. There were countless dishcloths and slippers knitted through this time! Audrey also used to tie quilts for the family and in the winter, she would get together with other church ladies to tie quilts in Carlsruhe. The church quilts went to the mission, which she was happy to donate to a great cause.
Audrey’s biggest passion in life was her family. Watching her children, twenty-eight grandchildren and fifty-three great-grandchildren grow and become strong, loving and caring individuals made Audrey so proud. Audrey was happiest when all of her children were together. As a little girl, she would dream about what her life would look like when she was older. When recently asked what that dream was, she responded, “I am exactly where I wanted to be!”
In recent years, Audrey was diagnosed with breast cancer, and her health started to decline. Audrey passed away at South Bruce Grey Health Centre, Chesley on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, in her 96th year.
Loving mother of Joan Van Wylick of Chesterville, Wayne (Fran) of Bayfield, Pat (Dave) Missere of Fergus, Tom (Trish) of Hanover, Paul (Donna) of Mildmay, Phillip (Virginia) of Hanover, Doreen (Paul) Klages of Mildmay, Ann (Dennis) Lange of Mildmay, and Dan (Gloria) of Hanover. She will be missed by her 28 grandchildren and 53 great-grandchildren.
Predeceased by her husband Francis, her son Eugene, her infant children Mary and Patrick, her son-in-law John Van Wylick, her siblings John Heidmiller, Bill Heidmiller, Ed Heidmiller, Albert Heidmiller, Mary Young, and Myrtle Fischer, and her parents Albert and Evelyn (Caskanette) Heidmiller.
Visitation will be held at the Walkerton District Knights Community Hall, 1658 Highway 9, R.R.#5 Mildmay, on Sunday, June 4, 2023, from 2 – 4 and 7 – 9 p.m., with vigil prayers at 3:30 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be held at Sacred Heart Church, Walkerton, on Monday, June 5, 2023, at 11 a.m. Fr. Jason Kuntz officiating. Interment in St. Francis Xavier Cemetery, Carlsruhe.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Grey Bruce Health Centre Oncology Department (please make cheques payable to Owen Sound Regional Hospital Foundation) or to Ronald McDonald House Charities, Southwestern Ontario (RMHC – SWO) would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.