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Mavis Klages

Rhody Family Funeral Home

Mavis Wilma was born on Monday, September 6, 1920, in Arran Township, to Herbert Milton Milford and Ette Jane (McMullen) Ash. She was the eldest of three; Mavis, Earl Milton (1922), and Margaret “Eleanor” (1927). The Ash family operated a mixed farm on the Arran Townline, where the children attended S.S. #5 Bethel. Mavis spent the first three years of high school in Tara, before completing her secondary education in Chesley, where she boarded in town to attend school. Following high school, Mavis continued her education by heading south, by train of course, to Kitchener where she enrolled in nursing school. This adventure took her to KW Hospital where she learned and worked toward her nursing diploma.

Back at home, Mavis’ sister, Eleanor, had begun dating a handsome man by the name of Melvin John Klages. However, one night at a dance, Mel’s gaze fell upon Mavis, and he swore to himself that she was the one he was going to marry. Mavis altered her life plans and returned to the area upon graduation, working in the Hanover Hospital. The young couple courted for a year, with Mel eagerly walking 5+ concessions to the Ash farm to visit Mavis. (Well, the truth of it is, the fishing was better at the Ash’s and so visiting Mavis was an add on to his fishing excursions.) In order to afford their upcoming wedding, Mavis sold her vehicle to help pay for the special day. Just prior to the end of the war, on Saturday, June 24, 1944, Mel and Mavis were married. The Rev. Davis presided over their nuptials at the Ash home in Arran Township. Their witnesses were Eleanor Ash and Arthur Klages. For their honeymoon, this young couple decided to venture north to Algonquin Park. Despite generous wedding gifts of food and gas rations, they only made it halfway, to Lake Couchiching near Orillia, and they had to turn around or run the risk of running out of gas. Crazy!

Their first home together was next to the Klages home farm on the Keady Road. After a few months of living there, Mel and Mavis bought their own farm from Theodore “Tader” and Clara Klages. This 200-acre parcel of land was purchased for $7,000 with a $1,000 down payment. Working industriously and sacrificing arduously, it took this couple only six years to pay off their mortgage. Logs were taken out of the bush only to pay down the mortgage and no hydro was put in until they were debt free – yes, you read that right! In fact, they chose to have their mortgage payable in March so they were encouraged to work diligently throughout the winter to make their payment. Thus, the winters felt shorter by having kept busy and the debt was paid off quicker. It was here where they raised their family of five: Terry Dale (1945), Melvin “Dennis” (1948), John Arthur Cecil (1950), Carol Anne (1953), and Mark Herbert (1960). They worked extremely hard side-by-side mix farming and took their fruits to market (raspberries and strawberries), and sold potatoes, maple syrup, cream and eggs (for 19¢ a dozen). In time, their production turned into dairy, along with chickens and pigs. Mavis could often be found in the barn at chore time, milking the cows. Their most memorable cows were Julie and Suzie, and horses were Bert, Prince and Queen. Oh ya, and Mavis didn’t care for the rooster – because he often chased her!

Seldom was the time that Mel and Mavis were able to go out without the kids in tow. However, Saturday nights were indeed reserved for family fun. Going to the Marmion store, owned and operated by John and Selma Publuskie was a regular occurrence. Thank goodness a nickel went a long way back then, as that was all the kids had to spend. Being tied to the dairy farm, left few opportunities for travel. However, this family was able to make a few big trips. One highlight was visiting Expo ‘67 in Montreal. Trips were also made to visit Aunt Mary in Carmel, Indiana and Rev. Cecil Klages in Michigan. In 1981, they sold some of their cows to take a trip out to British Columbia. They borrowed a motor home and headed out for three weeks, visiting such places as Kelowna and Salmon Arm in the interior. Two years later, they borrowed a motorhome from Emile Hachey and trekked out to the East Coast.

Mavis’ faith and her church were a central part of her life. The family attended St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Marmion. After this church closed, the Klages’ became regular members of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Chesley. Throughout her life, Mavis was active within the church. In the early years, she was a member of the sunshine committee, and later volunteered her time and her talents whenever she could. In her later years, she was an active member of St. Mark’s E.L.W. When her age, and health limited her ability to attend services in person, Mavis could always be found fulfilling her spiritual needs by watching and participating in Sunday morning services on television.

Mavis and Mel were known, and loved for, their love of company and welcoming hospitality. It was nothing for Mavis to have fifteen animated, sweaty, and wistful hunters in her basement. “Mavis’ Hunt Club” got together regularly for some 30 + years. But their hospitality did not simply extend to hunters, but rather to anyone who wished to celebrate a special day or event. The Klages home was the “party house” and their door was always open. Many have a hard time believing how much company they had. Little seemed to faze Mavis and making ten pies Christmas morning or six loaves of bread a day during hunting season was just “no big deal.”

It should be no surprise to hear that Mavis loved to cook, bake and can. Her talents in the kitchen were many, but some of her family favourites included Mavis’ potato soup, potato pancakes and of course who could forget her peanut butter balls. In her limited free time, Mavis enjoyed rug hooking, refinishing furniture and completing jigsaw puzzles. Together with Mel, she spent a great deal of time playing cards with solo, cribbage, euchre, and sheepshead being some of her favourites. When enjoying herself, Mavis often treated herself to a cold beverage with a cold OV, or a rye and Pepsi, as her go-to’s.

In 1997, Mel and Mavis moved off the farm and into town where they settled on Tower Road. Here they enjoyed their well-deserved retirement while spending more time enjoying family and friends. Sadly, Mavis lost her soulmate, best friend and husband in August of 2006, bringing to end a fabulous 62 years of marriage. Surrounded by family and friends, Mavis navigated life on her own and took up a few more pastimes. She began reading more, especially Amish novels, and completing word searches. Mavis was always tuned in to the news and liked to keep up with the happenings of the world, her community and family. She loved to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and was an extremely proud mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Mavis loved people and thrived around them. She was known as a strong, hardworking woman, who had a great sense of humour and could always be a great deal of fun.

In March of 2022, at the young age of 102, Mavis downsized and called Elgin Abbey in Chesley home. Here she enjoyed visiting with other residents, staff, family and friends alike, making the best of each day. Sadly, Mavis, the matriarch of the Klages family, passed away at Brucelea Haven, Walkerton on Thursday, March 7, 2024, in her 104th year.

Loving mother of John (Mary) of R.R. #4 Chesley, Carol (Vern) Weiss of Elmvale, Mark (Susan) of Chesley and mother-in-law of Anne Klages of Chesley, and Norma Klages of Kitchener. Mavis will be fondly remembered and dearly missed by her sixteen grandchildren and thirty-two great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband Melvin, sons Terry and Dennis, and siblings Earl (Louella) Ash and Eleanor (Herb) Fidler.

Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Tuesday from 7 – 9 p.m. A funeral service honouring Mavis’ life will be held at the Klages Mill on Wednesday, March 13, 2024, at 11 a.m. Interment in Chesley Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to St. Mark’s Lutheran Church or Chesley Hospital Foundation would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.

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