Marie Jeanne Ollenberger or “Mary” as we all know her was born in Kirkland Lake, Ontario on August 28, 1936, to her parents Alexandre and Emelina Gill. At fourteen years of age Mary took the train from Ontario to meet her father in Britannia Beach, British Columbia, where he worked as a mine blaster. Alexandre enrolled Mary into an all girls’ convent until she was sixteen.
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Seeking employment, Mary worked as a babysitter for Joe and Phyllis where she was introduced to Laurence Ollenberger, Joe’s younger brother. Laurence, or, as the family knew him “Larry”, was training in Vancouver for a pilot in the Canadian Armed Forces. Larry continued his training in Winnipeg where Mary accompanied him and were married in 1954.
Over the next year Larry and Mary gave birth to Deborah in October of 1955. Upon graduating from the Air Force in Winnipeg, the family was relocated to Saint-Hurbert, Quebec. During a training exercise, the jet’s engines failed and the aircraft crashed. Larry was killed in the line of duty.
As a young widow, Mary was asked to return to Vancouver to live with Larry’s mother and father, George and Agnes Ollenberger. As the Saskatchewan winter set in Albert Ollenberger, Larry’s older brother, frequently visited his mother and father in Vancouver where he met Mary and they married in Vancouver in 1957.
Albert, Mary and daughter Debbie set out for Saskatchewan to begin a farming adventure. They were joined by daughter Judith in March of 1958 and son Blaine in 1960. Mary being an eastern girl turned out to be a great farmer’s wife until retiring with Albert in 1974. They moved to Delta, British Columbia and enjoyed the mild climate, travelled and entertained many friends and family.
Unfortunately, Albert fell ill with Alzheimer’s disease and Mary spent every day for many years at his side devoting herself not only to Albert but helping many others who have also fallen to the disease.
Throughout Mary’s life she enjoyed dancing at every wedding she went too along with playing the slots. Her motto was, “If you wanna win big, you gotta play big!!!” Mary was a big support for her children providing them opportunities for education, recreation and business.
Over the past few years Mary has seen her fair share of medical challenges where the pain she endured showed her true strength as a person, wife and mother. Mary passed away January 1, 2019, at the Edith Cavell Care Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta at the age of 82 years.
Mary is now free of pain and is with God. Mary will be deeply missed by her children, Deborah, Judy † and Blaine; grandchildren, Cameron, Jared, Justin, Ashley, and Lexy; as well as numerous other relatives and friends.