Lorraine Chilibeck passed away peacefully at the Montfort Hospital in Ottawa on March 12, 2018, following a brief illness. The family matriarch was 82.
Although her health had declined over the last couple of years, she continued to enjoy the companionship of her loving husband Donald, who doted on her daily at the Sarsfield Colonial Home. She also cherished regular visits from her four devoted children, Michael (Lisa), Philip (Tara), Anne Lorraine (Steve) and John (Stephanie).
Her chatty nature, lost with age, was replaced by a glint in her eye and a knowing smile, especially when she looked at photos and videos of her eight busy grandchildren, Karina (Max), Danika (Cassy), Sasha, Max, Anthony, Vladi, Elko and Lev, from different parts of the country and the world.
Lorraine was born Dec. 17, 1935 at the height of the Great Depression in Mundare, Alberta, the only daughter of the late Alexander Dubyk and Margaret (Woroschuk) and eldest among five siblings, Augustine (Victoriya), Jerry (Mary Jane), Myron (Jo Ann) and Allen (Linda).
From humble beginnings on a farm with no electricity or running water and where hard work was the norm, she became the first in her family to pursue higher education, enrolling in nursing at the age of 17 at the Edmonton General Hospital and forging lifelong friendships with other students.
After graduation, she spent more than a year delivering babies and treating the ill in northern indigenous communities such as Fort Smith and Frobisher Bay, then sought another degree at the University of Ottawa and worked at the Ottawa General Hospital as head nurse of the nursery. In the capital she also met her future husband, whom she would be married to for the next 52 years. Most of that time was split between happy homes in Beacon Hill North and Cumberland, often filled with the hum of a sewing machine and the waft of steaming hot pyrohy and other Ukrainian delicacies.
Once the children were old enough, she returned to work, first doing physicals for people seeking medical insurance and in later years doing foot care for the elderly and people with disabilities. Her work took her all over the city, and in an age before GPS and Google Maps, she could quickly recite the best short cuts to the most obscure of Ottawa streets.
A woman of deep faith, Lorraine read the bible to her children nightly and attended Ukrainian and Roman Catholic services wherever she lived, doing readings at mass and participating in prayer circles, a rosary never far from her hands. On her one and only trip to Europe, she climbed the 387 steps in the tower of Notre-Dame Cathedral at the age of 70.
Her lifelong passion was sewing, and creations such as the raggedy Ann and Andy dolls she artfully put together in the early child-rearing years eventually morphed into colourful placemats and boxer shorts as her kids grew to adulthood. Many sewing students in Beacon Hill North took their first lessons with Mrs. Chilibeck in a home basement outfitted with multiple machines and heaps of fabrics. As a baba, she stitched together plenty of bibs and blankies for her grandchildren.
Lorraine had the gift of the gab and was grateful for time spent with special friends, whether it was at sorority, the Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre or other social gatherings.
The family will receive relatives and friends at Heritage Funeral Complex, 1250 Trim Rd., Orléans, on Friday, March 16, 2018 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. A funeral mass will be held afterwards at 11 a.m. at Divine Infant Roman Catholic Church, 6658 Bilberry Dr., Orléans.
Donations to the Montfort Hospital Foundation would be appreciated. Condolences may be offered online at: www.heritagefh.ca