May 19, 1931 - October 8, 2020
PHYLLIS (PENNY) LOUISE STEPHENSEN
With heavy hearts, but a strong faith in God, we share with you that our beautiful Mum/Gramma passed peacefully on Thursday, October 8, 2020, at the age of 89, reuniting joyfully with her sweet granddaughter, Keira.
Mum will be forever loved and always remembered by her entire family, including her children, Mitchell (Candace), Michael (Allison), Tracy (Blaine), Maury (Lianne), Toni (Gary), and Tyla (Darryl), and her grandchildren, Sara and Mary, Jordan, Sean and Alexandra, Amy, Erin and Dean, Joshua, Nyja and Keira , and Madison and Grayson. Also mourning her passing are her brother Leonard, cousin Murilla, many nieces and nephews across Canada, relatives, and friends. Mum also reunites with her loving parents Percy and Hylda Walsh, brother Merrill Walsh, sister Ricky Brousseau, and mother-in-law Kae Anderson.
Mum was born Phyllis Louise Walsh in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island during the Great Depression. Mum grew up with a very strong faith and shared with us many heartfelt and loving memories of her childhood on the island. As a child, Mum attended Notre Dame Academy where her favourite subjects were Math and Latin. She earned the nickname “Penny” as a youngster, based on a popular comic strip of the time. In her teenage years, Mum worked at Island Tel with her sister, Ricky, as well as at Pleasant Diner and Johnny’s Restaurant. At the age of 20, on a dare, Mum applied for the RCAF, was accepted, and within weeks was on a train headed to Quebec for Basic Training. She trained as an Accountant Clerk and was married in January 1953.
Mum began raising a family in 1954. Being a stay-at-home mother was Mum’s calling. She modelled for us exemplary love, faith, kindness, and strength daily. Mum also knew how to make ends meet better than most, knitting and sewing many of our clothes and stretching meals beyond compare. To say that Mum was all about family would be an understatement.
When Mum was tasked with raising us on her own, beginning in 1975, she began working at Safeway, Sturgeon and Ness, in the bakery department. Mum’s determination was legendary: she juggled work, laundry, meals, homework support, church, and kids’ activities all on her own – and all without a car – as only a single mother can. We remember fondly our weekly ‘cheeseburgers with chocolate milk’ Saturday nights, midnight mass on Christmas Eve, Christmas morning stockings and Santa presents, Easter egg hunts, Saturday cartoons, Sunday family dinners, and ordering KFC after Mum’s very first paycheque! We had a solid, loving childhood based on simple things; the things money can’t buy. As we got older, Mum supported us during high school and university and talked us through our first loves and heartbreaks. When we were spreading our wings, Mum, at the youthful age of 62, obtained her driver’s license!
As we grew, our relationships with this amazing woman deepened. We all spent so much time together with Mum, be it shopping, exercise classes, late night talks, having tea, watching Dallas and Dateline, Boxing Day sprees, or travelling often to PEI, Grand Forks, Calgary, Quebec City, Toronto, Vancouver, Florida, California, and Rome together.
Mum accepted each of our spouses immediately as one of her family. The addition of grandchildren to Mum’s life only increased her blessings. Gramma was a hugely enthusiastic and loving caregiver, always willing to welcome her grandchildren into her home, whether occasionally, or day-in and day-out. Gramma loved to be there at each grandchild’s sacrament, Christmas concert, dance recital, band concert, musical, graduation, award ceremony and many sporting events, too. A proud mother and grandmother, she could often be overheard sharing her children’s and grandchildren’s successes with anyone who would listen. It is really us who are proud – proud of the amazing kindness, faith, and fortitude of this loving woman who sacrificed so much to give all of us a better life.
We owe everything to you, Mum. A day doesn’t go by that each one of us isn’t grateful to you for all you did. Now is the time for you to reunite with those you’ve been missing and to watch over us in spirit as you always have throughout life. We love you forever, Mum! xo
A private, family Funeral Mass will be celebrated in October 2020 at St. John XXIII Roman Catholic Church, Rev. Fr. Robert Polz presiding, with Interment at St. Charles Catholic Cemetery.
We wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Jason Jhooty for his excellent care, to the staff at both Sturgeon Creek Residence 1 and The Boulevard, Shaftesbury Park, and to Dr. Kurt Penner and the caring Unit 5 nurses, HCAs, and support staff at Victoria General Hospital. We would also like to share our sincere appreciation for our spouses and children and their ongoing love and support of us and Mum/Gramma.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Mum’s church are gratefully accepted: St. John XXIII Roman Catholic Church, 3390 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 0Z3.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”