CONNOLLY, Doris Alberta (Brown)

Doris Alberta (Brown) Connolly

Doris Alberta (Brown) Connolly was born in her family’s homestead, River Valley Farm, on the Palace Road, Napanee Ontario on October 24, 1928 and passed away on March 17, 2019 in Calgary, Alberta. She was an only child and predeceased by her parents Emily and Ross Brown. Her fondest and earliest memories were her days growing up on the farm with all the animals, swimming in the river and playing with her best friend Helen Baker (nee Martin). A favourite pastime was collecting magazine pictures of the glamourous movie stars of the day. One of her treasures was an autographed photograph of her favourite actress Norma Shearer. Mom was a very creative person with a vivid imagination and loved making up stories and inventing characters for herself and Helen to act out. Some of her childhood was spent as a mysterious spy delivering messages across enemy lines, sometimes on horseback, during the war. She attended the one room school house on Palace Road where she excelled academically and adored her teacher Mrs. Sexsmith. As a consequence she was ready for high school by age 11 and graduated as valedictorian from the Napanee District Collegiate Institute at 14. One of her first jobs was working for the Ross Miller Biscuit Company in town. Young Doris was never really cut out for farm life; she was allergic to hay and had to wear long sleeves and pants in the hot sun while helping in the fields every summer. As soon as her parents would allow, our movie star beautiful mother moved to Toronto where she revelled in the big city life, kindled a fondness for a dirty martini, made new friends, rode the subway on the day it opened and once fought off a potential mugger, in heels. She worked at various jobs and eventually became secretary to the Dean at Ryerson University where she met her husband, artist Stuart Connolly (d. 1997). Together they had four children; Steven, Anne (John Irvine), Christine and Caroline, seven grandchildren Nathan (Jennie) Wiedmann, Rebecca Wiedmann, Nina (Jeff) Irvine, Emily (Steve) Kjelshus, Coleman, Satchel and Betty Hills and seven great grandchildren; Emilia, Sophia, Arianna, Jack, Walter, Oscar and Olive. Our Mom and Dad spent a few years together in Vancouver, BC with their first two children before relocating back to Ontario. Mom never forgave Vancouver for all the rain and fog and the mountains that stood between her and her beloved Ontario. Her biggest joys were her family, friends, numerous Shelties (especially Joey) and the many delightful years she spent living in London, Ontario surrounded by friends, family and her most indulgent happy place; her gorgeous swimming pool. In 1975 the family moved back to the farm in Napanee where she became an active member of the Lennox and Addington Historical Society. She worked at the County Museum and was well known for her role (in full period costume) for many years as the curator of The Alan McPherson house. She also worked for the L & A Board of Education and often reminisced about the many great friends she made during that time. She cherished the time she spent with her besties (Doris, Carol, Irene and Jane to name a few) attending the theatre and opera, road tripping to “The County”, and to Vermont every fall to take in the scenery or just “pigging out” in a restaurant. She also volunteered for the kidney foundation and was a dog walker at the Napanee Humane Society. She was a maverick in the kitchen and her children (and grandchildren) will never forget the copious and coveted loaves of bread she made regularly. There was also the homemade yoghurt, pickles and jam, sprouts she grew on the windowsill at the farm along with the massive garden she tended. We’ll always laugh about the summer she planted an entire row of zucchini…before anyone knew what it was. Sunday dinners (roast beef and Yorkshire pudding) with classical music blaring on the stereo were her forte and she loved when the family gathered in the huge dining room at the farm house in those years. Never ruffled, she could whip up a meal from the garden, garnish a salad with flower blossoms, throw together some mile high biscuits and impress anyone who dropped by at dinnertime. The guest bedroom was always ready, complete with crisp ironed pillowcases, and fresh flowers on the washstand. In 1985 she sold the farm and moved to an apartment on Water St. that she adored for many years. She won for the most flowers on the tiniest balcony every summer. Her grandchildren will carry with them many, MANY, warm loving memories of the time they spent with her there. In 2012 she moved to be with her Calgary family where she spent her final years indulging in her favourite activities; shopping, ice cream, iced tea, reading voraciously; crime fiction in particular, crossword puzzles, game shows, mashed potatoes, sleeping in, gatherings with family and friends, music and laughter, “losing” her sunglasses and happily criticizing annoying people on television. Anyone who knew Doris will remember her clear blue eyes, wide radiant smile, her warm welcoming nature, rustic aesthetic and hospitality, and her marvellous dry sense of humor. She was particularly good at making fun of herself and even in her last days shared laughs and smiles with her daughters at her bedside. We will forever miss you Mom, our story teller, teacher, funny lady, keeper of the family history and gentle matriarch. Our family extend their deepest appreciation to the amazing staff at Chartwell Eau Claire in downtown Calgary where Doris received the kindest and most compassionate care. Mom (Grandmum, Mamie, Dodie, Doris) didn’t want a funeral but if you’d like to, please raise an ice cream cone, ice tea or if you’re floating on your chaise lounge in your swimming pool this summer; a Tom Collins in her memory. In lieu of flowers, please feel free to make a donation to your local Humane Society.

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