Anna McVicker George (née Wharry) passed away peacefully in Lethbridge on Saturday April 8th, 2023 at the age of 89 years.
Anna was born October 26, 1933 to William and Mary Wharry in Carnlough, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. She was the youngest of 6 children and more than 8 years younger than her youngest brother Tommy – so she soon learned to be self-reliant and resilient and to make herself heard. Her mother died when she was only 2, but she was well-supported by her older sisters and brothers and her many aunts and uncles. Her love of the farming life – with its ever-changing animals, crops, wildlife and the changing tides of weather and seasons – was engrained throughout her life.
Anna attended Carnlough Primary, Ballymena Model, and Larne Grammar Schools - and lived for several years with her Aunt Mary and the Templeton family (of motorcycle and car racing fame) - before going on to Stranmillis Teacher’s College in Belfast, from which she graduated in 1953. She spent several years teaching at Sandy Row, Belfast and then made the brave choice to spend a year teaching in Winnipeg, Manitoba – where several of her aunts had emigrated years before.
As it turned out, Anna ended up liking Canada so much that she overstayed her visa and wasn’t aware that she had done so until several immigration officers showed up at her school, hauled her down to their office and promptly issued her with a Canadian passport and citizenship. After almost 10 years in Winnipeg, Anna again decided to try something new and moved to Fort William, Ontario – where she married Alan George in March of 1967.
They spent their first few years of marriage in Burlington, Ontario – before moving on to nearby Hanover and then to Lanigan, Saskatchewan in 1973– where they were to spend the next 7 years. They loved the wide-open skies, clean air and abundant wildlife and natural spaces of Western Canada and spent many hours walking the prairies and bluffs with their children and Labrador dogs.
In 1980, Alan took a job at the Alberta Agriculture research station in Lethbridge and Anna soon resumed her teaching career – with jobs teaching French at Galbraith, Nicholas Sheran, and Gilbert Paterson schools – and lovingly taught many hundreds of local children to speak French with a Northern Ireland accent! They both retired in the mid-90s and spent their next years travelling and camping throughout Southern Alberta, B.C., and the Western United States. They especially loved Waterton and Kananaskis, but they were equally content just to get out in the fresh air and open spaces around Lethbridge itself.
Anna is predeceased by her beloved husband Alan, her parents William and Mary Wharry, sisters Elizabeth, Jean, and Esther; brothers William and Thomas; brother-in-law John Keenan and sister-in-law Anna May Wharry; step-daughter Elizabeth (Paul Wilson), and step-son David. She is survived by her sister-in-law Agnes Wharry, daughter Alison (Ian Gibson), son Ian (Marnie Vetter), step-daughter Patricia (Lamont Brooks), and grandchildren: Emily and Sarah Wilson-George, Kelsey and Connor Brooks, Mary and Andrew Nelson, William Gibson, and Isabella and Benjamin George.
Anna recently filled out a book of memories for her grandchildren, and it must have taken her many hours – with a shaky hand, one remaining eye, and another through which she could no longer cry.
The final section of the book is called “From My Heart to Yours.”
Her answer to the question “What I want you to learn from me” is this:
“Be honest and helpful to all those you know and care for.”
Her answer to the question “What I want you to remember about where you came from” is this:
“Be proud of your family and honour where they came from.”
Her answer to the question “Never forget that I…”:
“Love you and wish you a very happy, loving life with joy and goodness in every aspect of it.”
Her answer to the question “My love for you is…”: “Generous, sincere, long-lasting, and abundant. All my love, Granny.”
A Celebration of Anna’s Life will be held at SOUTHMINSTER UNITED CHURCH, 1011 – 4 Avenue South, Lethbridge, AB, on Friday, April 14, 2023 at 2:00 P.M. with Reverend Ruth Preston Schilk officiating. The Celebration of Life will be live-streamed and may be viewed using the following link: https://www.facebook.com/events/555804423327089
In lieu of flowers and in memory of Anna, donations may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation (heartandstroke.ca)