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:


St.Catharines Branch Executive 2019-2020


Archived Reports

Annual Report 2017-2018

Annual Report 2016-2017

Annual Report 2015 – 2016


St.Catharines Branch Executive 2018-2019

Past PresidentSusan McLaughlin
PresidentPatti Malkiewich
1st Vice PresidentJan Harlos
2nd Vice PresidentSusan Lewis
SecretaryViolette Hagerty
TreasurerLinda Foster
MembershipLinda Foster


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

Click on the link below for more information.

Membership Brochure


Subject: Tax Receipts for Hospital & Home Care Plan for 2017

Many of you are wondering if the e-mail that you received from Manulife is a legitimate email.

As a convenience to insured members and their spouses, Manulife will be making tax receipts available online this year. They will be sending an email to insured members and/or spouses to the email address on file. The email will provide a link and instructions to follow to enable members to download their tax receipts. Tax receipts will be mailed to members and/or spouses where there is no email address on file. If a member and/or spouse wishes to have a tax receipt mailed to them rather than download one, they can request this by calling the Customer Service toll-free telephone number 1- 800-268-3763 and speaking with a Customer Service Representative.

BRIDGE 2018-2019

Ladies, we are now playing the last half of our 2018-2019 bridge games. Thank you for getting your scores promptly to Helen Self  at

We will hold our bridge luncheon on Wednesday, June 12 at the Yacht Club, here in St. Catharines. We will let you know the luncheon price and the yearly fee in the near future.

Please let Helen know if you are playing next year. Also if you know of any others (possibly new retirees) who would like to join us, have them contact Helen or Sharon. We need to finalize our teams before August .

Your Bridge Co-ordinators,

Alvine Robinson

Helen Self

Sharon Thorne


Summer 2019

Archived Newsletters


Buchler, Mary Lou

A member of our branch, Mary Lou Buchler passed away last week. She retired from the Lincoln Separate School Board. Mary Lou and her daughter were recognized at the Thursday luncheon of the Convention in June. A card will be sent to her family.
There will be a service at St. Julius Church on Saturday, July 20th at 12:30.

FAST, Helen

Helen went home to Heaven on Sunday May 19, 2019 at Tabor Manor. She was predeceased by her husband Eric in 2005 after 59 years of marriage. She was also predeceased by her parents Nicholas and Helena Hildebrand, and her brothers Nick and Jake. She is survived by her sister Betty (Hamm) Bright and brother Peter Hildebrand, her children Rod, Eleanore Joy Duerrstein (Henry), Miriam Bauer (David). She was beloved Grandma/Oma to Karen Fast, Chris Fast (Gwendolyn), Lisa Frey (Ian), Katy Cressman (Mark) and Michelle Bauer (Daniel Jaworski). Great Grandmother to Jacob, Kayla, Alexis, Eric, Ellis and Declan. Helen was born April 2, 1922 in Schoenau, Ukraine. Her family immigrated to Canada in 1925, living with relatives in Rosenort, Manitoba. In 1941, she graduated from Teacher’s College in Winnipeg. On June 26, 1946, she married Eric Fast at Southend Church in Winnipeg. Helen and Eric moved to St. Catharines in 1950. In 1961, Helen resumed her teaching career, teaching at Gracefield, Maplewood, Connaught and Carleton Public Schools. Eric and Helen were members at Bethel Baptist Church and Fairview Mennonite Brethren Church. Helen treasured all of teacher and church friendships. In 1995, Helen and Eric moved into the new apartments at Tabor Manor. In 2009, Helen moved into Tabor Manor as she was no longer able to live alone. A special thank you to all of the Tabor staff, including the nursing, dietary, housekeeping and laundry staff.

Visitation will be at Tallman Funeral Homes, 3277 King St., Vineland on Tuesday May 28, 2019 from 10-11am, followed by her funeral service at 11am in the Chapel. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to either M.C.C. or Camp Crossroads.


BROWN, Bonnie-Jeanne 

Bonnie worked in the Special Education Department of the DSBN. Bonnie passed away peacefully at Stirling Heights Long Term Care, Cambridge on December 4, 2018 at age of 78. Dear daughter of the late Neville Fraser and Cristine Fraser. Loving mother of Monty Brown and the late Lisa Overholt (Oct. 2018). Cherished grandmother of Emilie Overholt. Dear sister of Bob Fraser and Ruth Latimer and aunt to Sandy (Kevin) Traynor, Lisa Fraser, Debbie Bickford, Robert (Christine) Fraser, Jane Latimer and Christine Latimer. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, December 15, 2018 at Lounsbury Funeral Home, 1766 Franklin Blvd., Cambridge at 1 p.m. with visitation from 12 noon. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Heart & Stroke Foundation or Stirling Heights Long Term Care.

HULME, Bernice Ruth 

Ruth passed away at the GNGH on November 13, 2018, with her loving family by her side. Devoted mother to Don (Sharon) and Brenda. Loving grandmother to Tammy (Mike), Mandy (Dave). Great-grandmother to Amanda (Clay), Riley, Noah, and Hailey. Great-great-grandmother to Claire and Oliver. As per Ruth’s wishes, cremation has taken place with a family grave side service.

PHILIPSON, Lola Heaton, 1929-2018

Passed away peacefully on Sunday July 22nd, at the Hotel Dieu Shaver Hospital in St. Catharines. Lola was the widow of the late Ken Philipson (2006) and mother to David (Liz) Philipson, Lesley (Larry) Danks, Maureen (Rick) Sawicki, and Christine Philipson (BobSteadman). Grandma to 10 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. Respecting Lola’s wishes, there will be no visitation, cremation has taken place and a small family memorial gathering will take place. If Desired, memorial donations to a charity of choice would be appreciated by the family. Arrangements entrusted to the Hulse & English Funeral Home & Chapel, 75 Church Street, St. Catharines (905-684-6346). Online tributes may be made at

KROEKER, Myrna Blanche (née Buhler)

KROEKER, Myrna Blanche (née Buhler) 74. Went to be with her Lord Saturday, May 5, 2018 at Hospice Niagara. Predeceased by her loving husband Charlie Battel and her parents Millie and Walter Buhler. She is survived by her sons Don and Brian and her daughter Sandra, her grandchildren Emma, Dean, Abbygail, Laura, Dalton, and Quintin (Bingley); her stepdaughter Megan and her stepgrandchildren Lily and Summer; and her long-time friend Larry Kroeker. She will also be missed by her sister Janet. Myrna was a member of the Friendship Force Niagara, the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW), the Retired Teachers of Ontario (RTO), and the Retired Women Teachers of Ontario (RWTO). Cremation has taken place. There will be a Visitation on Sunday, May 27th from 3-5 with a service at 5:00 p.m. followed by refreshments, at Bethany Community Church, 1388 Third St., St. Catharines. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hospice Niagara or Bethany Church Benevolent Fund.


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.


Joyce Montgomery

April 10, 1919-Feb. 25, 2018

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.




Claire Cameron     1925-2017

Claire passed away peacefully on September 4, 2017 at the age of 92 at Niagara Gardens in St.Catharines. Claire Cameron was born in Merritton, Ontario in 1925 and was a respected educator and loved by many in the Niagara area. Claire began her thirty-seven year career as an elementary school teacher in 1943 with the Lincoln County Board of Education, teaching mostly at Virgil Public School and Port Weller Public School, before retiring in 1980. Claire was an active member of the Elm Street United Church in Merritton and enjoyed her walks around town. Claire loved to travel the world with her close friend Lois Eplett (2015) and visited many places like the United Kingdom, Spain, Florida and Hawaii. Family was very important to Claire, always spending Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving holidays with her brother John (Bud) and his family in Brampton. Claire will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by family; her sister-in-law Colleen – Leslie Turner – Cameron of Brampton, her niece Helen Cheryl Cameron (Stephen Smith) of Ajax and her nephew David Allan Cameron (Dr. Jeff Kemp) of Guelph. Claire will be eternally reunited with her mother Bessie Bradley Cameron (1956) and father David Allan Cameron (1960) and also with her brother John Maxwell Cameron (2005). She is also survived by her Godson Glen Woodhouse. Friends will be received at the BOCCHINFUSO FUNERAL HOME, 2 Regent Street, Thorold, from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m., on Thursday, September 7, 2017, followed by a Funeral Service in the chapel at 1:00 p.m. Interment will take place at Lakeview Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Alzheimer Society of Niagara Region. The family wishes to extend its sincere gratitude to the staff of Niagara Gardens for the amazing care that Claire received while living there. 

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.

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.