Marie Louise Adele Germaine Willette née Bernard was born to French homesteaders Auguste Bernard and Marie Sellier Bernard on December 4, 1924 on the family homestead in the Rosenheim district of Alberta. She was the only daughter in a family of eight children.
Growing up, Marie attended the Bellevue School near Bodo, Alberta. There, she participated in many school functions including choirs and instrumental music.
In her teens, Marie moved to Calgary with her parents and younger brothers so that her father could assist in the war effort. While there, she completed high school and earned a two-year Teaching Diploma from the University of Alberta.
Marie taught elementary school in Calgary for a number of years, returning to the Bernard family homestead each July and August to help her brothers on the farm. During those summers, she and Rollo Willette fell in love. They were married on July 9, 1957 and their love blessed them with five children.
In November 1968, Marie’s husband Rollo passed away, leaving her with a very young family. Marie raised their five children on her own with the support of friends and family. She also nursed her mother-in-law, Elizabeth Beckers Willette until her death in December, 1969.
In the summer of 1970, Marie bravely moved the family farmhouse into Provost, choosing a lot within sight of STA School and St. Mary’s Church. She continued to devote her life to her children and their activities as well as to serving her community. She taught piano lessons to supplement her income from the farm. In 1975, Marie returned to the classroom, teaching Grade Five until her retirement in 1983. In 2006, Marie moved to St. Albert to be with her younger grandchildren. After living there for 9 years, Marie moved to the Hillcrest Lodge in Provost, and then to Provost Long Term Care.
Marie was dedicated to her Church community throughout her life. In 2005, she received her 50-year pin for active membership in the CWL. Her commitment to Music Ministry was recognized by Pope John Paul II in 2002. By then, she had played the organ for Sunday Masses, weddings, and funerals for over 60 years. She also directed and accompanied numerous church choirs and assisted with religious services at the Hillcrest Lodge and Long Term Care.
Marie took pleasure in her family and friends, in creating things with food, fabric, & yarn, in games and puzzles, in her gardens. She reused, composted, and repurposed long before the environmental movement began. In her 70s, she learned to speak & write French again, and started playing bridge in her 80s.
Marie passed away peacefully in the arms of her loving family in Provost Long Term Care on July 7, 2017 at the age of 92 years.
Left to cherish her memory are her children Jacqueline (Miguel), Elaine (Reuben), Bill (Leanne), Liz (Bob), and daughter-in-law Joanne; her grandchildren, Brendan, Margot (Joe), Adrienne (Dan), Brenna, Sarah, Emily, and Tess; her brothers Bob and Maurice, and sisters-in-law Violet, Margaret, and Noreen; numerous nieces and nephews; and many cousins who live in France.
Marie was predeceased by her loving husband Rollo, proud son Peter (Joanne), parents Auguste and Marie Bernard, brothers Auguste, Jacques Edouard, Pierre (Violet), Jacques Jules (Margaret), and Georges (Noreen), and sisters-in-law Eleanor (Maurice) and Louise (Bob).