St. Catharines Branch News

Welcome to the St Catharines Branch of RWTO!

We are a branch of about 400 members and we feel we have much to offer to the retired women teachers of St Catharines. We run five luncheons every year, each with an engaging program and lots of opportunity to chat with old friends. Our members participate in a variety of interest groups that include physical activity, card-playing, dining, reading, travelling, and computer use. For more information about luncheons and interest groups, please see the links below.

Caring and sharing are an important part of our Branch. Our Goodwill Convenors send cards to members who are ill or have experienced bereavement. They also send cards regularly to our over-80 and over-90 members, and arrange flowers and visits to the over-90’s. In terms of community outreach, St Catharines Branch participates in four primary activities each year, including the Arthritis Society Christmas Wrapping Campaign, the Christmas drive for Community Care, the Rankin Cancer Run in May, and an on-going Volunteer Link that informs members regarding volunteer opportunities in the community.

Come join in the fun at St Catharines Branch! Our yearly membership fee is $45; fully paid members of other branches may join us in St Catharines as social members for a fee of $15.

If you would like to join us or wish for more information, please contact:

May 1 – October 31

November 1 – April 30



Archived Reports

Annual Report 2015 – 2016


Table Officers

Past PresidentKathleen Bradley
PresidentSusan McLaughlin
1st Vice PresidentPatti Malkiewich
2nd Vice PresidentJan Harlos
SecretaryViolette Hagerty
TreasurerLinda Foster
MembershipJudith Bennoch


ArchivistJessica Thomson
CommunicationsMarilyn Emmett
Convention 2019Marilyn Emmett
GoodwillAlice Bradnam
InsuranceChris Graham
Interest GroupsNadine Martin
Issues & ConcernsMarg Newby
ProgramPatti Malkiewich
Jan Harlos
Social Lou Farquhar
Betty Tieche
TelephoneSheila Benger

Many of our members enjoyed a delicious buffet luncheon at the St. Catharines Golf and Country Club on December 6th. We have always supported Community Care of St Catharines and Thorold and this year, Betty Lou Souter was presented with a cheque at the luncheon. Most of the donation came from the ladies attending the luncheon and almost $800 was donated from our Branch monies to bring the amount of donation up to $5,000.00.

After the luncheon we enjoyed singing a variety of Christmas songs. Our singalong was interrupted by a surprise visit from Mrs. Claus who was accompanied by her feisty elf. She recognized some of our members for the fine work they have been doing and was extremely pleased with the number of bras we have already collected for our Outreach project. She reminded us we could still bring them to the next two luncheons.

We left the luncheon full of Christmas spirit (and food). One lucky lady at each table was able to take home the lovely poinsettia table decoration.

Current Newsletter


 Archived Newsletters


Marjorie Ovenden 1946-2018

Obituary of Marjorie Ovenden

After a tough battle with Kidney Cancer, Marjorie of Fonthill passed away on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at the age of 71. Special wife and best friend of Jim for 49 years. Loving and caring mother of Andrew, Phil (Andi), and Amy (Rob) Granacki. Devoted grandmother of Naomi, Hudson, Raistlin and Alistair. Sadly missed by siblings Anne (John) Bebbington and David (Linda) Neff. Predeceased by parents Ron and Gladys Neff, and brother Jim Neff. Also remembered by her niece, nephews, extended family and many friends. Marjorie loved family gatherings, geneology and working with children She was a teacher at the District School Board of Niagara for many years. Thank you to Dr. Levesque; and the doctors, nurses and many volunteers at McNally House Hospice for your extra special care. Friends will be received for visitation at Wainfleet Brethren In Christ Church (corner of Perry Rd. and Hwy 3) on Thursday, January 25 from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. A funeral service will take place in the church on Friday, January 26, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. Burial to follow at Zion Cemetery, Wainfleet.

Donations in memory of Marjorie may be made to McNally House Hospice (148 Central Avenue, Grimsby, ON L3M 4Z3) or Oneida Baptist Camp (c/o Camp Oneida Treasurer 335 South Coast Drive, R. R. #2 Nanticoke, ON N0A 1L0

Cathy Collins November 8,1944-October 17,2017

Cathy loved the community that she was a key part of, and shared her energy with many community groups including Queen St Baptist Church.  In retirement Cathy found her work at the Child Advocacy Center Niagara particularity rewarding. She was committed to supporting their work with children and youth who are the victims of physical and/or sexual abuse.  In Cathy’s memory, the Center has created a fund that will support a new children’s program that utilizes art therapy as part of the healing process.  Anyone who wishes to learn more about the center can find information at  Donations to “Cathy’s Kids” will be accepted by calling or mailing donations directly with the center.  This fund will be set up later this week to accept donations through the Center’s website.



Kathleen Fritz- February 24, 1916-July 19, 2017

Following graduation from Listowel High School, Kathleen tried a couple of occupations, but neither appealed as a lifetime endeavour and so following her mother’s suggestion she enrolled in Stratford Normal school. For her first teaching assignment, Kathleen taught mostly Amish children in a rural school near Milverton. She was paid $600.00 for the year and for the second year, $700.00. Here is one vivid memory from those early days. “One of the girls came to my school with what was whooping cough. I had to tell her that she could not attend class. When her baby sister dies of it, the couple with whom I boarded took me to the home to pay our respects. As we drove in the lane, we saw the grandfather making the coffin. It was so difficult to meet the parents and see their beautiful little lying on a table.” As her career progress, Kathleen acquired additional qualifications in Kindergarten- Primary, Speech, and university level courses. She even qualified as a radio broadcaster at Queen’s University, which she found to be so useful in English classes and speaking. And then too, she studied Bible courses at McMaster, useful also for the then prescribed course of study in Grade Eight. Her career has taken her to many different places and situation. In the Stratford area, Kathleen was hired to teach children with learning difficulties, where she also did IQ testing in the elementary schools. After the class class was disbanded she went to Ann Hathaway School for 3 years. After this she taught in Leaside for 8 years. Then Kathleen was married and she and her husband moved to St, Catharines, where she taught for 21 years in different schools before retiring in 1972. While summing up her teaching career, Kathleen points out that her thirty-five years of teaching, provided experiences in all grades, from Kindergarten to Grade 8 in a Senior School, She states I was fortunate to have special music supervisors in all my years and most principals who were great leaders. Did she have any famous or special students who stood out? Kathleen states, “I like all children and all were special.”  And what of Kathleen’s outside interests, beyond teaching? She worked as a volunteer, including with the Red Cross at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto and Meals-on-Wheels. She enjoys Community Concerts, is an active member of the United Church and visited the elderly. Asked for what advice she would give to teachers just starting out in the profession today, Kathleen states “Respect-that starts with self-respect.” FRITZ, Kathleen – Kathleen Fritz (nee Beacom) of Brooklin, Ontario formerly of St. Catharines, passed away peacefully at Deer Run Retirement Home, Claremont on July 19th, 2017. Kathleen enjoyed a 35 year teaching career, the last 22 years in the St. Catharines area. Born in Mount Forest on February 24, 1916 Kay was in her 102nd year. She was the beloved wife of the late Elgin Fritz who predeceased her in 1988. She will be sadly missed by her niece Hope Fennell and husband Ron, their children Maeghan & Mike Rohwer and daughter Ava, and John & Christie Fennell and son Carter. Kathleen will be remembered by her nephews and nieces Gardiner (Joan) Beacom, Janet (Glen) Smyth, Betty (Paul) Thornton and Kirk (Delilah) Beacom. She is predeceased by her nephew Karl Beacom but will be fondly remembered by his wife Jackie and their children. Kathleen is predeceased by her parents Dr. George and Minnie Beacom as well as brothers Jack, Roy and Bill. A memorial Celebration of Life service will be held at the Court at Brooklin, 5909 Anderson Street N. Brooklin on Saturday, July 29th at 3:00 p.m. where Kathleen lived for the last 14 years. Messages of condolence and shared memories can be left for the family by visiting What does the Lord require of you: Seek Justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 13195926

JOHNSTON, Jean Marilyn (nee Stapleton), U.E. – December 24, 1936- July 14,2017

Jean was born in Welland, Ontario, and raised in Hamilton. She is survived by her beloved husband of 57 years, Murray, as well as many much-loved nieces and nephews. Jean also leaves dear friends, Joan Martin of Smithville, Rose and Ralph Carty of Hamilton, Anja Jokela of St. Catharines, and Irene and Ken Kadonaga of Cambridge, Ontario, as well as many highly regarded colleagues in the Retired Women Teachers’ Association of St. Catharines. Jean was predeceased by her mother Marietta Stapleton (Clement), father Leslie Stapleton and four older Stapleton brothers, Douglas, John, Lloyd and Bruce. Jean attended Westdale Secondary School in Hamilton, graduating from there and then Hamilton Teachers’ College. She taught for 35 years, finishing her career in St. Catharines and, upon retiring, was awarded Honorary Life Membership in the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario. While teaching, Jean ran for public office in St. Catharines and was elected as Alderman for Grantham ward for two terms. She served on a number of local boards and commissions, as well as provincially. Jean was a member of the Col. John Butler Branch of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada and was proud of her family’s military service to Canada. Three great grandfathers, Lewis Coles Clement, Adam Crysler, and James Clement fought as Butler’s Rangers in the American War of Independence and James also served in the War of 1812. Jean’s father served in the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in the First World War, and her brother Douglas was killed during the Second World War while training to become a fighter pilot. Jean was appreciative of the care she received from Sandra’s Home Health Care and the doctors and nurses at St. Catharines General Hospital. Thanks to all the friends and neighbours who called and visited, and who sent cards, flowers, and messages of support while Jean was in hospital. Special thanks and love to Rebecca Thornborrow and Russell Johnston for their thoughtfulness and caring love. Visitation will be held at Pleasantview Funeral Home, 2000 Merrittville Hwy, Thorold, (289)650-1730 on Thursday, July 20th from 6:00-9:00 pm, and Friday July 21st from 10:00-11:00 am. A Celebration of Jean’s life will be held in the Pleasantview Chapel on Friday July 21st, 11:00 am, to be followed by interment at Pleasantview Memorial Gardens. In accordance with Jean’s wishes cremation has already taken place. In lieu of flowers, please honour Jean’s memory with donations to the Cystic Fibrosis Society of Canada, the CNIB, or The Salvation Army.

Barbara Mekbeb

Mekbeb, Barbara ~ Passed away suddenly on Friday,September 22, 2017 at the age of seventy- seven.

Barbara Cynthia Mekbeb (nee Willshire), dear mother of Krystyn, and Andrew (Christine), of St. Catharines, Ontario, loving grandma of Carmela and Lia Mekbeb, dear friend of Belay Mekbeb. Predeceased by her mother Maxine Franklin and a sister Elaine. Barbara’s family wish to thank the staff of Niagara Gardens for their care. She was employed by the DSBN as a teacher for thirty-five years. Barbara was involved the Niagara Folk Arts, and a member of St. George’s Anglican Church where she also volunteered. Visitation will be held at Patrick J. Darte Funeral Chapel, 39 Court Street, St. Catharines (905-685-6584) on Thursday, September 28, 20178 from 5pm to 8pm. A Funeral Service will be held at St. George’s Anglican Church, 83 Church Street, St. Catharines (905-682-9232) on Friday, September 29, 2017 at 2pm. Memorial donations to either the Ontario Diabetes Society or the Alzheimer’s Society would be appreciated by the family.