Brenda Marlene was born on Saturday, April 28, 1945, in Chesley, to proud parents Clarence and Margaret (Baker) Nightingale. She joined her older sister Barb (1943) before the family was made complete with the arrivals of Ron (1953) and Lori (1960). The Nightingale family resided in Chesley where the children attended school.
Brenda was fifteen and enjoying a night out with friends when the girls met up with three local boys. This was the first time Brenda was introduced to a handsome, young, gentleman by the name of John Frederick Dirstein. John, also fifteen, called Elmwood home and the young couple soon began dating. Their relationship blossomed and the two were wed at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Elmwood on Saturday, August 11, 1962. Once married they spent a short period of time living with John’s parents, before finding a home of their own in Chesley.
The Dirstein clan soon began to grow with the arrival of Marlene in 1963, followed by Paul (1965) and last but not least Scott (1969). As a young mother, Brenda matured quickly and settled into her role as caregiver. She also returned to the workforce and was employed by Heirloom Furniture where she worked in the finishing department, often applying the varnish. In later years she moved on to Hanover Kitchens, where she remained until her retirement in 2006.
When not working, Brenda loved spending quality time with her beloved John and her children. One family activity they all enjoyed together was camping. This started back in the 70’s, when the kids were young, and in its simplest form. In time, their summer home became the Bruce Peninsula. Site 3 at Lion’s Head Beach Campground was their little piece of paradise. Over the next 35 years, the family created countless friendships and memories in this special place.
In her free time, Brenda enjoyed being creative, and I am told was quite the artist. She loved painting, writing, both stories, and letters, and was also well known for her love notes – to John of course! She truly had a way with words. Brenda also enjoyed cooking and baking and was particularly known for her marshmallow squares and hamburger soup… yum yum! Her artistic talents eventually spilled over to flower arranging where Brenda made countless saddle arrangements for cemetery monuments. Her favourite flower – a yellow rose. Brenda also loved a good game of cards, with euchre and poker being favourites. Visiting local casinos, like Rama and Hanover, was another guilty pleasure and something she thoroughly enjoyed. She was particularly fond of the summer months and the opportunity to be outside and reading a good book. It should be no surprise that romance novels were a go-to, along with anything produced by Christian ministers and authors Joel Osteen and John Hagee.
Brenda was musical, learning to play the Omnichord piano from scratch in her younger years. When it came to her listening preferences, they included the likes of Charley Pride and Freddie Hart, and it must be stated that she also loved a good Elvis impersonator. Together, with John, they enjoyed attending local dances, often at area legions. In her younger years, she was an active member of the Chesley Legion, and more recently enjoyed attending the Thursday afternoon dances at the Listowel Legion. It should be no surprise that Brenda was a social butterfly, or as John liked to phrase it, “Mouth from the South.” Like most women, she also appreciated her girl time. Brenda frequented many thrift shops in her day, often with close friend, Aggie Orth, at her side. Through the years, she also created a close bond with Pat Carmount which she appreciated dearly. When not out visiting or socializing, she could often be found at home watching the most recent episode of The Young and the Restless or a favourite game show. She was also an animal lover, with her beloved Sadie taking the cake. Other family favourites included Jake and Major, German Shepherds, Scott’s dog, Chico, and her cat, C, a.k.a. “The Mop.”
Life forever changed for Brenda in April of 2018, when she lost John. Shortly after, she relocated to Listowel to be closer to family where she absolutely loved her “new” apartment. She continued her loving and giving ways, always putting the needs of others before her own. Brenda was always quick to forgive and encouraged others to do the same. She was dearly loved and will be missed.
Sadly, Brenda passed away at Listowel Memorial Hospital on Friday, December 29, 2023, in her 79th year.
Loving mother of Marlene Lina of Hanover, Paul of Walkerton, and Scott (Karin) of Listowel. Brenda will be missed by her grandchildren Cody, Jonathan, Amanda, and Shania and five great-grandchildren. Dear sister of Barb Cowie (Thomas McClocklin) and Lori Martin, all of Chesley. Brenda was predeceased by her husband John (2018), brother Ronnie Nightingale, niece Raquel Martin, and her parents Clarence and Margaret (Baker) Nightingale.
A graveside service honouring both Brenda and John’s lives will be held at the Chesley Cemetery on Sunday, April 28, 2024, Brenda’s 79th birthday, at 1 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to SickKids Foundation would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.