It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our mother Cleo Josephine Walters (née Coutu) on January 9, 2024, in White Rock, BC. She was a loving, gracious woman of great character and was the glue that held our family together over many decades.
Cleo is survived by her four children: Janet, Philip, Rosanne, Alexander and by eight grandchildren: Robyn, Alexander, Heather, Kyle, Harrison, Kathryn, Sarah and Sophia. She was predeceased by her husband, Fred Y. Walters (2011) and her siblings, Wilfrid Coutu (2015) and Joan Frisch (2018).
Cleo was born in North Bay, Ontario on February 6,1927 to parents of Scottish and French descent. She amazingly lived to almost 97 years of age. Cleo spent her childhood in North Bay and later studied at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, earning a Bachelor of Science, specializing in chemistry and biology. She continued her post graduate studies in microbiology. Cleo met Fred at McGill University while he was an engineering student. After graduation, they moved to Toronto and were married on October 17, 1952.
Cleo began her career as a researcher for public health laboratories and later obtained a teaching certificate from the University of Toronto. She spent most of her teaching years at the high school level where she taught both chemistry and biology. During this time, she thoroughly enjoyed chaperoning students on their spring break school trips to European countries. Also, during her years living in Toronto, she spent family time on weekends and holidays at their recreational farm, located just north of Orangeville, Ontario. Her favourite hobby was maintaining an enormous vegetable garden.
When Cleo retired, she and Fred moved to Foxboro, just north of Belleville, Ontario. After several years, they decided that their true destination for retirement was British Columbia. Consequently in 1997, they moved and settled in Chilliwack, BC. There, Cleo’s passion for gardening and flowers really flourished. She became renowned not only for her beautiful gardens but also for her prowess at winning many prizes at the Chilliwack Garden Club and many ribbons at local county flower and agricultural exhibitions. She and Fred thoroughly enjoyed all that the Fraser Valley and its environs had to offer. They frequently walked the trails along the Vedder and Chilliwack rivers and visited bird sanctuaries and wetlands. Also, every summer they delightedly hosted many family picnics along the shores of Cultus Lake.
Cleo was an ardent dog lover with a penchant for Yorkshire Terriers. She was rarely seen at home without one sitting on her lap. Cleo was also a proud lifetime member of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada. She was able to trace her family roots back to the 1770’s when they first settled in Ontario. Not to be left unsaid, Cleo was the second cousin of Tim Horton of the donut empire. It was a well-worn joke in the family, especially amongst the grandchildren, about why we never got our coffee for free given how we were related!
We will be having a small celebration of life for the immediate family. Her ashes will be interred at the Belleville Cemetery beside our father. In lieu of flowers, a donation to one of Cleo’s favourite charities would be appreciated. These included: Canadian Wildlife Federation, BC Humane Society and the Canadian Red Cross.
Mother, we will miss you more than you will ever know. You have left an indelible imprint on the lives of all your children and grandchildren. May you rest in peace.