I don’t believe in age. I believe in energy.
Don’t let age dictate what you can and cannot do.
97 year old yoga teacher
Donelda had boundless energy. How she managed to get as much done as she did during a day is unknown. She was fearless, brave and strong. Whether she knew it or not, Donelda was well ahead of her time and forged a path for women to come.
Donelda was born November 2, 1930 in Owen Sound to Alonzo and Jessie Lindsay (Cruickshank) Beattie. She was the only girl and third child. The oldest boy, Tracey, died at just a few months, of pneumonia. Leonard Laird was born in 1922 and Albert Alonzo in 1937. The Beattie family lived on a one hundred and fifty-acre farm on the B-Line. The children attended the Allenford School. Like most children of her time, Donelda finished school early, after grade nine, in 1945. She had attended Allenford High School.
While at a Halloween dance in Rockford, in 1946, she was smitten by an air force returnee. George “Lavern” Hewitson and Donelda had grown up only a concession apart and the families were neighbours. The Hewitsons all had farmed in the area. On Wednesday, June 9, 1948 the couple was married in the Harrison Park area of Owen Sound and the reception was held at Paragon Hall. The newlyweds borrowed a car to drive to Montreal for their honeymoon but had to ensure the car was returned the following week for another wedding!
Together Donelda and Lavern farmed and raised a thousand chickens. In fact, Lavern even built a two-floor egg barn. Friday nights were spent candling and cleaning the eggs. The eggs were then sold every Saturday morning at market and at the end of the day they returned home in a car filled with chicken feed! All this happened on a farm Lavern had bought in 1945 on the A-Line, thanks to the Veterans' Land Act of 1942. Daughter Sharon was born in 1951, son Marvin in 1954, Kelvin in 1956 and Darlene in 1958. Sharon attended a one-room schoolhouse on A-Line where she and a cousin were the only two children in Grade One.
The Hewitson family moved back and forth between Allenford and Owen Sound a couple of times before Lavern was offered a job at Putnam Scales located on Highway 401 just outside of London. Donelda began paid work, in quality control, at Essex Wire where she continued to work for twenty-eight and a half years until the plant closed. Donelda, of course, given her boundless energy, won several awards at work for perfect attendance. After working her shift, Donelda would return home and continue her work there. She always put up beets, pickles and chili sauce, just to name a few.
At a Rosy Rhubarb Festival, in Shedden, Donelda won an award for her famous rhubarb pie, beating out even the local bakery! One of her pies went for $100.00! Easter always included her rhubarb pie as just enough little rhubarbs were scalped to make one! Ham and scalloped potatoes, as well as butterscotch pie, were some of Donelda’s personal favourites! In her spare time, Donelda loved to bowl 5 Pin and play cards, especially euchre. A cute story is told of how Donelda brought with her to Bruce County her bowling bag and trophies! And this was just within the last decade.
DoneIda also loved to read. Her romance books were bought at the grocery store and hidden between her mattresses! Donelda herself wrote that a dictionary was one of her favourite things. Spelling and English were her favourite subjects in school. Watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune were another must and given her intelligence Donelda was able to answer a lot of the questions. Watching old movies, the Women’s TV Channel and Christmas movies were also favourite pastimes. She loved mysteries, reading and watching “Murder She Wrote” with Angela Lansbury. Donelda also did a lot of embroidery, runners and pillowcases, and sewing. As a young woman, Donelda loved ice skating, dances and baseball games. Faith was an important aspect of Donelda’s life and she always attended First United in St. Thomas. Donelda was a trustworthy woman who kept one’s confidence and took many secrets to her grave. She was honest, small but strong.
Sending and receiving cards were a must for Donelda. She loved to keep all of her keepsakes and enjoyed staying in touch with everyone! Celebrating both Christmas and birthdays were also a must. Her favourite season was likely Spring when she could open the windows and take a week off work to spring clean her home (image!)! Here is a great hint! Use Avon Bubble Bath, hot water and a towel to clean your windows! It works fabulously!
Red and purple were Donelda’s favourite colours although she was known to wear black and white quite a bit. She still had in her possession a reversible, plaid, skirt that was fashionable in her time. And to know Donelda is to know of her particular attention to her hair. As with a lot of women of her generation, Fridays after work were dedicated to having her hair done and she had the same hairdresser for forty years! Donelda’s list of priorities was Family #1 and her hair #2! (Too cute!) Donelda loved to walk and walk she did. Rain or snow, hail or sleet, nothing stopped Donelda from walking. She was not a sun worshipper and always wore a floppy white hat when outdoors. Friends of her family could always pick her out of a crowd by her hat!
Donelda had a number of close friends and enduring their deaths had been difficult. However, Donelda was also good friends with a number of her daughter’s friends. In fact, a number of the next generation always referred to her as “Momsy!” She was well loved and will be greatly missed by all generations, family and friends! Easter pot-lucks in Keady are still attended by hundreds of Hewitsons.
Donelda managed to live to the age that she did by refusing to feel old, admitting to her age and continuing to get a pile of work done in a day. Her boundless life energy enabled Donelda to even travel to P.E.I. in her wheelchair, on the train! She seldom let anything keep her down. And if the truth be told, Donelda had a real lead foot when driving and was so proud when she bought her first new car! Trips out west and Nashville were highlights for both Lavern and Donelda, especially as they were without the children! Every May 24 weekend was a celebration of Country music in Tennessee. Together, both Donelda and Lavern loved to feed the birds and on a hot summer’s day, Donelda would run out cold Cokes for the sanitation workers! You really have to ask her family about the “Clothespin Chuckle” times.
Both Lavern and Donelda lived their lives and ran their home in a very regimented way and perhaps that was her other secret to getting so much done in a day. This was in addition to starting their days very early in the morning. In fact, some grandchildren have called their grandparent’s home as “Boot Camp!” After suffering from Alzheimer’s, and living in Parkwood in London, Lavern died in 2004 on Donelda’s birthday, November 2. Perhaps it was his way of freeing his beloved wife.
In 2008, Donelda moved into Sharon and Elwyn’s home, which she did for almost three years. In 2008 Donelda finally stopped driving and she chose Brucelea Haven as a place to live out the rest of her days. Donelda lived at The Village in Hanover for a couple of months prior to placement in Brucelea. She moved into Brucelea November 3, 2014.
Donelda Olive Margaret (Beattie) Hewitson of Walkerton, formerly of St. Thomas, passed away in the loving presence of her family, at Brucelea Haven, Walkerton on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 in her 89th year.
Beloved wife of the late Lavern Hewitson. Loving mother of Sharon (Elwyn) McGuire of R.R. #3 Chesley, Marvin – predeceased (Joan) of St. Thomas, Kelvin (Antoinette) of St. Thomas and Darlene (Ernie) MacEwen of Marie, PEI. Loving grandmother of Terry (Susan) McGuire, Shannon (Paul) Rhody, Michelle (Reid) Murray-Neck, Jennifer Hewitson, Dean Hewitson, and Trevor (Alysha) Hewitson. Donelda will be dearly missed by her great-grandchildren, Preston Rhody, Paige McGuire, Cohen Rhody, Cole McGuire, Grayden Hewitson; brother Albert (Maxine) Beattie of Owen Sound as well as by the entire Hewitson family. She was predeceased by her brother Leonard (Ola) Beattie, infant brother Tracey and her parents Alonzo and Jessie (Cruickshank) Beattie.
Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Monday, April 22, 2019 from 12 noon until the time of the funeral service at 1:30 p.m. Interment in Hillcrest Cemetery, Tara.
Memorial donations to the Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario, Children’s Wish Foundation or Brucelea Haven Activation Fund would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.Send to friend