11 May , 1930 – 1 July , 2018
Vergena Harvey (nee Sparkes) was born in Glovertown, Newfoundland, on May 11, 1930 where she was known as a stunning spitfire with a huge heart. Throughout her life she always put those she loved and her principles first. That meant family and caring for the wider world, too. She met her great and only love, Laurie (later known as Larry) Harvey when she was 14 and he was 16, as the young man helped his grandfather, the local bootlegger, carry supplies across the rugged Newfoundland terrain. Little did she know, when he first saw her, Laurie told his granddad he was going to marry her one day. But they lived far apart on the island and Vergena could never have dated Larry, who came "from the wrong side of the tracks." Larry never forgot her and they reconnected when both had moved to Toronto from Newfoundland a few years later.
It happen one muggy, Toronto summer day. Vergena was getting ready for a date with her new beau, Eric. Always the trickster, Eric called to apologize, saying he's gotten stuck bringing a his kid nephew along for the day. Vergena agreed to go and help look after "the lad." Humour and practical jokes were the coin of the realm in Newfoundland, so when she opened her date's car door and in the back seat sat the nephew, in fact a grown man, she laughed and took things in stride. Vergena was smitten with the dark-haired, tanned man the moment he flashed a dazzling smile as they shook hands. Later that day they ditched Eric and snuck off to Toronto Island alone. Only when they sat on bench in front of the ferry then did she realize she'd fallen for the "bad boy" from back home and playfully slapped him on the cheek. He kissed her and from then on, the two were inseparable. They married the next summer.
Larry was a talented country musician and, with Vergena as his manager and often co-writer, eventually he landed a record deal in Nashville and soon had hits on the popular Chum Charts. In time, they had three children and Larry left the music business for work he thought more fitting to a family man.
All her life Vergena had made her own clothes due to her creativity and natural gift for design. She'd also handcrafted things for her children, everything from stuffed toys, to clothing. After years of homemaking and working part-time, in her 40s Vergena went back to school and became a professional seamstress. She used her skills to set up a program throughout Toronto's subsidized housing projects to help low-income families make and mend their own clothes. Later in life she helped her husband run a business that installed glass and mirrors. Whether she was doing the bookkeeping or steadying her husband's ladder, she was always nearby her love. Though she grew up without running water or electricity, and saw her first car at the age of 15, she ended up travelling abroad. She and Larry had a romantic trip to Spain, but their real love was camping trips in their camper van.
Vergena helped care for all her grandchildren as her own kids launched their careers. Nan-nan, as she was proudly known by then, was a tremendous grandmother who was always their babysitter and never missed a school event.
She also loved to volunteer with seniors, always wanting to give to others. Even in her failing health she sponsored African children.
She developed rheumatoid arthritis in her seventies. By 2014, she needed professional full-time care and moved into a nursing home, where Larry faithfully visited her each day, sometimes twice, right up until four days before he died in November, 2015. She joined him in heaven on July 1, 2018.
Vergena leaves her children; Gail, Robin and Shane Harvey, grandkids, Rejane Wilson, Katie and Michael Boland, Eric Huhta and Kelly Harvey-Mykula, and Rylan and Brooks Harvey, and great grandson Jesse Wilson. Also her brother Don Sparkes and sister-in-law Linda, nephews Barry and Kenneth, nieces, Laura, Jane, Susan, and nephew Paul, step-grandson Zackary Mykula and her former daughter-in-law Shelley Gillen, also Kevin Boland. She is predeceased by her father Avalon Sparkes, her stepmother, Louise and mother Helena (nee Davis) baby sister, Haroleen, and her younger uncle and childhood playmate, John Davis. She also leaves behind her lifelong friend Patsy Butt and new friend and fellow Newfoundlander, Jacqueline Rideout. She did not want a funeral or service, just to be remembered by those she loved. In lieu of flowers, the family would be grateful for donations to the Canadian Mental Health Association.
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10 July 2018
Back when I was a teenager, I would visit Mrs. Harvey, She knew me my whole life, and treated me like one of her own. She was very caring and supportive. I really enjoyed my time visiting the Harvey family. R.I.P.
10 July 2018
Vergena was a truly perfect mother-in-law and a wonderful friend. She embraced me the day I met her and it never changed. The countess hours I spent sitting in that colourful kitchen on 67 Earl Grey Road — drinking tea and yakking with Vergena and Larry — are among my happiest memories. (I speak of them both here, because in my mind they are inseparable.) Didn’t matter whether you showed up morning, afternoon or night; Larry would say “Mom, put the kettle on,” and tea would be served; along with homemade muffins and jam, chocolate cake, or some other treat Vergena made that day. I will always treasure the love and respect Vergena gave me, throughout the thirty-seven years of our relationship. Family was first with Vergena and Larry Harvey, and family was forever. Right back at you guys. R.I.P. together. Xo Shelley
9 July 2018
I met your Mom just once after Katie was born and it was a great pleasure. She was a lovely woman and lived her life to the fullest. It is a great loss to lose the last of your parents but you will be left with such great memories of her life and the exceptional times she created for you.