December 16, 1938 – February 7, 2020
Anna Cowan passed on Friday, February 7, 2020 after a brief battle with cancer and a stroke at the age of 81 years. She was born the 5th child of 6 children on the farm at Ledwyn, Manitoba to Joseph and Katherine Okolita on December 16, 1938. They moved to the farm near Beausejour, Manitoba for all of her school years.
She married the love of her life, Burleigh Cowan, in 1958, and taught grade 6 at Laura Secord for one year. It was her calling to be a teacher and she spent the rest of her life learning and passing that knowledge on outside of classrooms. Her daughter Catherine was born in 1959, and she and Burleigh planned great adventures for their little family. Cancer completely blindsided them and took Burleigh from her in 1970. Anne worked as a supply teacher and after school supervisor for a few years before meeting Frank Smith in 1978. They bonded over a shared love of life at the cottage in Lee River, and of “shiny objects.” Frank passed in 2013.
Anne was a mad gardener and many of her friendships were made over-the-fence while admiring her magnificent vegetable and flower gardens. She had a great love for all animals and the wild critters and the visiting cats will miss the generous feasts in her yard.
She will be missed by her daughter Cathy (Tim Dutchak) of Cochrane Alberta, grandsons, Jason Phillips of Toronto and Ryan Phillips of Winnipeg, sister Irene (Ed Bowden) of Alberta, and many nieces and nephews. She will also be missed by all her over-the-fence friends, but most especially Tamie Archer, Judy Stewart, and Lise Helbig.
Donations to the Winnipeg Humane Society (https://www.winnipeghumanesociety.ca/) are appreciated. There will be no service and her remains will be scattered to the wind in a mountain meadow on a warm spring day at her request.
In the whirl of a warm breeze
In the dewy glint on a flower’s petal
In the rumble of a cat’s purr
In the chatter of sparrows
In the flash and crash of a summer thunder storm
In the glorious colours of each sunrise and sunset
We will remember and love you forever.
- Winnipeg Humane Society
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February 22, 2020
I am one of Anna's friends made over her backyard fence. Each year my garden - a few yards away is filled with an abundance of heritage tomatoes from Anna's carefully preserved seed box which she stored in her fridg. No better place to store seeds, she claimed and she had seeds dating back to her early gardening days. Her garden in the last years was almost enclosed by overgrown cedars and shrubs and became a sanctuary for birds and butterflies. She faithfully took care of all creatures with feeding stations - the crows knew her schedule and gathered each morning awaiting their morning feeding while the squirrels in the neighbourhood rushed along the back lane telephone wires to get their share of peanuts. It must have cost her a fortune to feed all her much loved creatures.
Her garden too was her love and joy. I will miss our visits and the times we sat together overlooking her garden. Even though now struggling under a mat of quack-grass, she knew each lily bulb and eagerly awaited its coming to bloom, not only recalling it's name but its history in her garden.
Anna was most frugal - a trait that we shared. I, a quilter, saved scraps of fabric, she, a planner and dreamer, saw a possibility for use within everything that someone else no longer thought useful. So sorry, Anna that your dreams were suddenly shattered. On our last visit in mid December, she was knitting blankets for cats to be given to the Humane Society while wondering aloud - "What will become of me?"
Rest in peace Anna
Condolences to Kathy and family.
Lenore (Patti) McLaughlin
February 21, 2020
Cathy: I am sorry to learn of your Mom’s passing, although I was pleased to hear of her long life and that she had a partner to share many years of it. I can imagine her delight at the arrival of grandchildren and assume your boys delighted in her and her wise and eclectic teachings.
I drove down Wilton Street about a week ago, before I read of your Mom’s death, and was suddenly flooded with memories: of my excitement heading over to your house for an evening; of my interest in your Mom’s “shiny objects” and the myriad stories behind them; of the singing in the back room without a care in the world; of my gratitude to you both for helping me feel a little more at ease at a new school; and of my deep sadness at having a mother who was not interested or interesting, like yours, but was only drunk and always, always angry.
I don’t remember, or perhaps never knew, why our friendship didn’t last. But please know that I value still the warm experiences I shared with you and your Mom. I have always tried to meet people wherever they are in life and to value their uniqueness. Your Mom did that for me.
Again, you have my sympathy for the loss of your very special Mom.
Lenore (formerly Patti) McLaughlin