Agnes Robertson

January 1, 2021 3 Condolences Print Obituary

October 25, 1921 - December 20, 2020

Agnes Robertson was born on October 25, 1921 in Calgary.  Her father, George Wood, was from Scotland and her mother Josie Mooney MacDonald was from Ontario.  Agnes was the third of seven children and the last one to pass on.

She is survived by her two sons Grant Keith and Kenneth Ian and two grandsons Keelen and Grant Daniel born to her son Ken.  Her grandsons were very special to her; she had an endearing relationship with them. 

During the war years, Agnes worked at Currie Barracks in Calgary for the air force.  Agnes married Keith James Robertson of Camrose on December 26, 1947 in Calgary. They moved to Edmonton in the mid-1950s.  Her husband fought as a navy officer in WWII.  Keith rose to Deputy Minister rank overseeing the provincial civil service.  He died in 1975 at the age of 52 from cancer.  

When her husband died, she decided to work again even though she was well provided for.  She upgraded her skills and got a job at the provincial government as a stenographer and worked until her early 70’s.  Work gave her a daily routine and an opportunity to meet new people.  She enjoyed shopping downtown during lunch breaks.  She was very particular about her appearance, was always well dressed and had her hair done weekly.

Agnes was active in the community and loved to volunteer.  She was a life-long member of Robertson Church and took part in UCW activities. She also was a member of the IODE and PEO.  

Her hobbies included bridge, skating (with speed skates), gardening, curling and some golf.  She loved to read papers up to three a day and watch news television.  Her favorite topics were politics and the stock market.

Agnes had an adventurous side.  In 1971 her husband was working for the United Nations in Guyana, South America.  Agnes and her son Ken spent a year there.  This involved trips to the jungle and many social events.  In 1998 Agnes travelled by herself to Turkmenistan, Central Asia where she stayed with her son Grant and his wife Helene.  She also travelled to the Gulf of Arabia, Eastern Europe, New York, Viet Nam, and the countries of the Mediterranean.

She lived in her own home in Rio Terrace for 50 years.  At the age of 93 she was still driving and moved into independent living at Canterbury Manor.  Those were good years.  Dementia started to creep into her life and in May 2018 she moved to Canterbury Lane Memory Care where she was well cared for.   The Covid19 lockdown which started in March 2020 ended daily visits which was hard on her and her family.  In October 2020 she was transitioned to long-term care where she had her 99th birthday.  In early December she tested positive for Covid19 and died on December 20th.

Living through the Great Depression and the War years shaped her character.  Agnes worked hard, was resilient, kind to others, grateful for her good life and she could share a good laugh with others.   Agnes will be missed.

  1. Hello Ken – The Benson family extends our sincere condolences on learning of your Mom’s passing. Wow, the last of the “Woods sisters”, what an incredible era and legacy left. Words honestly cannot describe my personal feelings and thoughts, the immearsurable memories, glorious fun, and happy times spent with Agnes, her children, sisters, their spouses, and all the cousins. “Holy Moly”. I am blessed to have known her and being able to spend time with her and family. For my wife Janet, Aunt Agnes was a go to person for conversations and confidence to overcome. My thoughts are with you, brother Grant, Helene and your sons, Grant and Keelen. I am very sorry I didn’t participate in the “zoom” memorial, I just returned from BC. May Agnes rest in peace on Gods heaven.

  2. There is only a handful of people we meet in our lives that leave an impression on us; for me, Agnes was one of those people. I had the honour of her being my mother-in-law and a grandmother to my two boys.

    Where do I start. I had first met Agnes 35 years ago at the Bessborough Hotel in Saskatoon. On her own, at age 65, she arrived by bus from Edmonton, to meet her future daughter-in-law. I remember the direct but soft look in her eyes as I nervously shook her hand. She was wearing, as I came to learn, her favourite colour, royal blue. She also wore a warm smile that she freely gave over the years.

    Although some people may have not-so-nice stories about their mother-in-law, I’d be hard pressed to think of one. I can say that Agnes and I never had a disagreement, hard feelings or exchanged unkind words. This had more to do with her because of her wisdom and respectful and kind nature. She had a knack for being tactful. Although on occasion I may have given her reason, she never expressed her disappointment or disapproval with what I did. She was a great listener, especially when I would vent about things. Her words, always supportive.

    One of the first things I think about is her distinctive laugh. The best I can describe it is she looked and sounded like she was trying to stifle a laugh, almost like she didn’t want any else to hear it. Often I and others would laugh because of her laugh. You just couldn’t help it!

    She was such a great grandmother to my boys. She cherished them. She would read to them, told them stories and watch them with great interest as they showed her their toys. She patiently listened to their stories that often didn’t make much sense to an adult but, she knew, meant a lot to a child. She was a master at her time tables and would quiz the boys on them. She loved Christmas time with them. When the boys were young, they were convinced that she had been a spy (and she would never deny it!). This fascinated them; when we would visit her, the boys would search her house trying to find gadgets she may have used when spying.

    Family gatherings were one of Agnes greatest pleasures. She prepared the most fabulous diners on many Sundays over the years. When we would visit her in Edmonton, her hospitality was so inviting. I can hear her say at the door, “Come in! Come in! She would have everything, from our beds to meals prepared with what seemed like no effort on her part. Whatever we wanted to do or where we wanted to go, she would go along with it. Breakfasts at her place were wonderful and predictable with eggs, bacon and toast and oatmeal, orange juice … and of course, tea.

    She loved to dance. Sometimes, I would ask one of the boys what Grandmommy was doing and they would say, “She’s dancing in the living room! Or, I would come upon her dancing by herself – sometimes I wondered if she was imagining that she was dancing with her husband that she lost so young.

    Conversations with Agnes were always interesting because she was so well versed with what was going on in the world, especially in politics. When we would stay at her place, I would to bed with her reading a newspaper or watching the news and woke up to the same thing. I could not keep up with her. Almost everything I know about the history of the British royal family is because of her. Speaking of which, every New Year’s she would listen to Queen Elizabeth’s speech and this would be the topic of conversation for much of the day.

    Like most of us, she obsessed over small things, like always feeling like she had to clean out her closets, or top up the car with gas (there could never be enough gas in the car!), or being on time, or the logistics of how to get somewhere or did she turn off something before she left the house. Many of these things became family jokes that we teased her about … but she always took it so well.

    Agnes had several sayings that I became accustomed to. One was when she didn’t see you for a while in person, she would say “hello, hello, hello”. Or if she called, she’d say, “What do you know?” Agnes was a refined person and I never heard her swear, however, the one exception was when she disapproved of what a man would do or say, she would call him, under her breath, “bastard”. For example, in the process of explaining the connections among people of royal families, she would pause when she would get to Charles and Diana’s divorce; barely audible, she would say, “bastard” in reference to Charles. I would get a kick out of this because it was so out of character for her.

    Much of Agnes formative years was during a time when women did not have the same rights, support or recognition as men. And although she was not a public advocate of equality for women, in conversations with her it was clear that she felt women needed to be supported and I felt this from her.

    Sometimes, a measure of a person is not by what they do or say but rather by what they don’t. Agnes never felt like she had to do the talking – most often, she was content (and wise) to be the listener. I can never remember her getting between her son and I in a disagreement. She never made comments on food I served – and she was a much better cook than I!

    Agnes had strong protective and caring instincts. I received many calls from her letting me know about food warnings issued by health agencies. She would put her hand across your body in the car if she thought she had to stop too quickly or she would make sure that the kids always had warm winter boots, jackets and mittens. She ensured money was set aside for post-secondary education for the boys. She never failed to ask me how my mother was doing in Nova Scotia. I believe she knew I missed her terribly. She always made sure to send her a Christmas card. She so often gave me her flying points so the boys and I could go to Cape Breton for part of the summer.

    I can honestly say that because of her caring nature, Agnes saved my life. Twenty-three years ago, her and I were sitting in my backyard chatting and she was enjoying the heat of the summer (she seemed to be forever cold!) and she asked me about a tiny (less than the size of a pencil eraser) mole on my thigh. I said that I had it all my life and it was nothing to worry over (because she was a worrier!) In her way, she quietly persisted and said I would have it looked at. Truthfully, I went to see a Dermatologist so that I could honestly tell her she didn’t need to worry, that it was nothing. Well, it wasn’t – the mole turned out to be advanced melanoma. After removal of the mole, treatment and removal of many other moles, I was fine. I was extremely fortunate that it did not spread elsewhere. So, if it wasn’t for Agnes, I doubt if I would be able to say how much she has meant to me. I would not have had a chance to continue to be a mother, sister or daughter. I’m not sure if she has ever heard me, but many nights I have fallen asleep, thanking her for her caring nature.

    Agnes never liked her name. Sometimes she would say that she’d like to change it, but never did. However, I think she was aptly named given it means, pure, modest and decent. She was pure of heart, modest in her thinking and the epitome of decency.

    It’s funny how it’s only after time goes by that you have regrets. My regret is that I didn’t spend more time with her because she was just one of those people that was so easy to be with. I cannot say how much knowing her has meant to me and my boys. Agnes, if you can hear me, you will be remembered deeply in my heart and treasured beyond words.

  3. Hello to Grant and Ken. This is your cousin Patti Henley (Patti Jean Robertson). I happened upon your mom’s obituary and wanted to send my condolences to you both. Your mom was an amazing woman and her life was beautifully captured in her obituary! 99 years is truly remarkable, although I’m sure the longer you have a parent in your life, the more they are missed.
    Please know that you and your families are in my thoughts.

    Patti

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