Clara “May” was born on April 13, 1932 in Cape Chin, a small hamlet on the Bruce Peninsula, to parents William David and Christena Margaret (Nixon) Morrow. May was soon joined by younger sister Margaret (1936), before the family moved south to Lion’s Head. David (1938) completed the family. May attended school in Lion’s Head, but left school early to pursue working opportunities in town. Her early jobs in Lion’s Head included being a dishwasher at Williams Hotel, working at Greig’s Corner Store as well as babysitting for members of the community.
In the spring of 1951, May was introduced to a young man by the name of Wray Beverley Walpole. Wray also originated from the Bruce Peninsula and the two hit it off immediately. They were married at Christ Anglican Church, Lion’s Head on October 20, 1951. The young couple soon took up residence in Chesley, as Wray had a job there and they called 3rd Ave. S.W. home. This would remain their family home for the next 66 years. May soon got a job at Remington’s Grocery Store in Chesley and remained there until beginning their family.
May and Wray welcomed Larry in 1954, Bob in 1956, Gary in 1960 and their daughter Janice in 1964. May kept busy caring and providing for her young family. When Janice was around 3, May returned to work. She began cleaning a few business offices around Chesley as well as a few homes. In time, she also cleaned at Evanlee School. By the early 1970’s a custodial job became available at Elderslie Central School, and May got the job. She was well-respected amongst her colleagues and all the students and was a staple in that school for the next 25 years, retiring in 1997.
Away from work, May loved spending time with her family. The Walpole’s loved camping and made many life-long memories with their children through these experiences. In later years, May and Wray often called the Beach Park in Lion’s Head home in the summer months. Here they enjoyed their holidays and most weekends. Life at the trailer was always enjoyable. Together, the Walpoles also enjoyed gardening. May loved working in the flowerbeds, with Dahlias and Gladiolas being her favourites. In later years, when the grandchildren arrived, May was the first to volunteer to help with the children and absolutely loved spending time with them. No day was complete without talking to or about her beloved family.
When not busy at home, May loved to volunteer her time within the community. She was active in the Boy Scouts Auxiliary, Brownies & Girl Guides, U.C.W., Agricultural Society, Horticultural Society, TOPS, and the treasurer of L.O.B.A. for over 60 years. When not volunteering her time, May loved knitting, crocheting, quilting and sewing. She created countless creations over the years, and even made all her grandchildren their own quilts. If her grandchildren needed something, May was there to create it! Not all her designs were made new, as May was also quite thrifty. She was an amazing talent, and would often rip old coats apart, only to make something new for the kids. She was a fantastic cook and baker, and was renowned for her pies (especially lemon meringue, apple or pumpkin), butter tarts and buttermilk tea biscuits. Birthdays around the Walpole home always included Angel food cake and boiled icing (a.k.a. ooey, gooey icing, as the kids called it) and no Sunday was complete without a fabulous family supper, with all the fixings, prepared by May’s loving hands. If you were to ask her family, I guarantee that there were many other favourites within the household as well. She made all her Christmas squares and cookies and the cookie jar was always full at grandma’s house! This creativity never went to waste either as May loved competing at the Chesley Fall Fair. Each year when the Fair Guide came out, May quickly planned her next few months. She would compete in the areas of arts & crafts, baking, preserves, and of course flowers, receiving countless awards through the years. I am told May kept all her Fall Fair ribbons. She was also known to collect a variety of spoons, salt & pepper shakers and teacups, amongst other things.
May loved Christmas and often began decorating and preparing at the beginning of December. Although not much for travelling, May and Wray did enjoy day trips together, and on a few occasions attended the Royal Winter Fair and Cullen Gardens. Together they attended many performances at the Bruce County version of the Grand Ole’ Opry as well as the Bijou Theatre, always preferring a good comedy. In her downtime, she enjoyed her soaps Edge of Night and Another World. May loved her music, and even taught herself to play the piano. She often played by ear, and occasionally by note, and was known to be playing hymns on the piano when the kids came home for lunch. In addition to traditional hymns, May enjoyed Gospel music, old country, fiddle music as well as the likes of Circle 8 Ranch, Don Messer and Tommy Hunter. In more recent years, May could still be seen tapping her toes to the music as she listened to fiddle and country tunes in the nursing home.
May was a proud, loving woman, who cared deeply for her family. She was compassionate, honest and could be very frugal. May had a good sense of humour, loved to laugh and enjoyed her fair share of socializing. In fact, I am told she kept the telephone busy quite a bit through the years!
In 2012, May was diagnosed with dementia. Wray loved and supported May, and her every need, for the next two years until he was no longer physically able to do so. In 2014, she moved into Parkview Manor, with Wray regularly riding this scooter across town to visit her. In the fall of 2017, Wray followed suit, and the couple were reunited again. May passed away at Parkview Manor on Sunday, September 27, 2020 in her 89th year.
Loving mother of Larry (Paula), Bob (Donna), all of Chesley, Gary of Chatsworth and Janice (Graham) Waite of Owen Sound. Cherished grandmother of Kyle (Megan), Chris, Shawn (Sabina), Shelby (Jordan), Sherrylee (Isaac), Kate, Adrienne and great-grandmother of Bennett, Elizabeth and Jacob. May will be dearly missed by her brother Dave (Janet) Morrow of Lion’s Head, as well as the entire Morrow and Walpole families. She was predeceased by her husband Wray (2018), sister Margaret Gaunt and her parents William and Christena (Nixon) Morrow.
A public visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Wednesday from 7 – 9 p.m. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, 25 people will be allowed in the building at any given time, and visitors must wear a mask and follow physical distancing rules. A private funeral service honouring May’s life will be held on Thursday, October 1, 2020 with interment to follow in Chesley Cemetery.
Memorial donations to Parkview Manor Residents Fund would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.