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Friday January 11, 2013

Kathleen Lovelace

Wife, mother, great-grandmother, United Church and community activist. Born Aug. 20, 1922, near Brandon, died Oct. 17, 2012, in Winnipeg of natural causes, aged 90

The four Lovelace kids knew "the Force was with them" long before that phrase became trendy. The Force lived in their house and her name was Mom.

The Force knew what they had done and what they were going to do before they did. Over time, the Force's name became Grandma to seven, and even Great-Grandma to three.

If Kae had been born 25 years later, she would probably have had several university degrees and run a global corporation in her spare time. But she was born when she was, and she devoted her enormous energy, talent and skill to smaller circles: her family, her community, her church and her friends and neighbours.

Born on a farm near Brandon, Man., she moved to Winnipeg at an early age. She met Floyd Lovelace before the Second World War and waited for him faithfully while he was away with the military and she served in the Canadian Women's Auxiliary Air Force (CWAAF) in Ottawa. He returned on Christmas Day, 1944, and they were married a month later.

They were a devoted couple, often seen holding hands or sharing a quiet hug. But as a railroader, Floyd was away a good deal. Kae stayed home and looked after everything with panache.

She cooked and canned, hung washing on the line to freeze in winter, sewed her own clothes, provided dessert twice a day, and could be ready with hot food and coffee at midnight.

The Winnipeg house and the cottage at Winnipeg Beach were always filled with the children, their friends, relatives and whoever else was around. Kae could cook dinner for 20 or 30 seemingly without effort, making phone calls to organize other events while the food simmered on the stove.

There were always other events, organizations or people to be looked after. Her congregation, Immanuel Church, relied on her. Her funeral must have been one of the first events in years where she wasn't the dynamic centre in the kitchen.

As convenor of the regional committee responsible for candidates for the United Church ministry, Kae became den mother to a host of young men and women. She flew regularly to Saskatoon to attend board meetings at St. Andrew's College. She was business manager for a theological journal, and deeply involved in Winnipeg Harvest and the North End Stella Community Ministry.

Kae started the Good Old Days, a shop and tea room that sold crafts made by seniors. Friday nights there were famous, not only for the number of turkey dinners cooked, but for the number of people without means who dined free.

At the same time, Kae managed to be present for all the family milestones, attending every recital and never missing a graduation. She knew who the friends of her children and grandchildren were, and regularly asked about them.

At her funeral, the minister said: "We are a people Kae saw us to be, when she peered into our hearts with that knowing look of hers, and with that joyous smile of discovery, like a prospector who has just struck gold."

Bonnie Lovelace is Kae's daughter. Mac Watts is Kae's friend.

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