NORAH GERTRUDE ELIZABETH BAILEY
February 20, 1944 - February 24, 2022
After a life well lived, Norah Bailey passed away on February 24, 2022. Predeceased by her parents, Norah and Robin Armour; and survived by her children, Esme, Magnus (Sarah), Leona (Mark), and Pauline (Darryl); her grandchildren Eton, Emme, Maisie, and Eva; her brother Edward (Suzanne); her sister-in-law Belinda (Jeff); her nephews John (Becca), Andrew (Sylwia), Alistair, and Stuart (Abi); her niece Catherine (David); and numerous cherished great-nieces and nephews.
Norah was many things: a mother, a teacher, a scientist, an amazing grandmother (known as Gma/Popo), a cat lover, a proud Scot, Canadian and Manitoban and above all, a kind and loving woman. As a teacher in five different decades, she touched the lives of numerous colleagues and thousands of students.
Raised in Musselburgh, Scotland, Norah graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in chemistry and came to Canada in 1966 and obtained her PhD in chemistry at the University of Calgary. One of the reasons she chose Calgary was to learn to downhill ski, which she did. She later moved to Ottawa in 1971, and then Winnipeg in 1985. While completing her PhD studies, she found she enjoyed teaching and was good at it. She became a science/chemistry teacher with a career that spanned 40 years, beginning as part of the original staff at Colonel By Secondary School in 1972, joining Lac du Bonnet Senior School (LDBSS) in 1988 and finally teaching at Springfield Collegiate Institute from 2004 until she retired in 2012. Principal Don Playfair needed an experienced science teacher and hired Norah at LdBSS. She was grateful for this opportunity and always spoke highly of Don. Despite the distance, Norah was happy at LdBSS and commuted each day from Winnipeg for 16 years. Lac du Bonnet was a small community where everyone knew each other, and she formed many strong and lasting relationships there. At Springfield, she enjoyed her new school, colleagues and students and the much shorter commute.
When she became a mother, she took time off to care for her four kids. Norah broke with the family name tradition, herself having been given the same name as her mother and other women in her family and chose unique and decidedly non-family names for her own children. A resilient woman, she raised four kids, drove many miles to and from teaching each day, and made sure they never missed an ice time or soccer match.
Once her children were grown, she loved to travel. She surprised her brother in England for his 70th birthday. She explored new places, visiting Leona in the Dominican Republic, New York, Indonesia and Hong Kong, and joining her family on trips to Singapore and Japan. She visited Magnus and Sarah in Kelowna, getting a helicopter tour of the city. She returned to her former city of Ottawa to visit Esme and Leona several times, spending special time with her granddaughters. She met up with her childhood friend in Edmonton and she revisited her university days with a Banff and Jasper road trip with Edward and Suzanne.
Norah loved water and beaches, be they cold or warm. A Rolling Stones fan from the beginning, Norah’s children recall her playing albums on a Fisher Price record player. She was finally able to see them in concert in 1997 with her daughter Pauline. At the time she described it as the best day of her life, aside from the births of her four children. Since then, the arrival of grandchildren bumped it down the list, but it remained a special day for her.
In retirement she enjoyed being Gma and PoPo and her grandchildren were her pride and joy. She spent lots of time with her Winnipeg grandkids, using her chemistry skills to set up a volcano for a birthday party. She happily watched hockey and gymnastics and went to soccer, swimming lessons and school concerts. Visits to her home meant a chance to explore the toy cache she happily kept for them. Despite living far away, she was an active presence in her granddaughters’ lives. Norah visited often and embraced technology, speaking to them regularly on videochat. She was known for her thoughtful gifts, always picking just the right thing for her grandkids and great-nephews and nieces.
Norah was always a cat lover and had many cats over the course of her life: Tiddles, Bumble, Cleopatra, Mactavish, Alice, Patches, Citrus, Boxer, Jazz, Dippurr and her foster Bandit. Any cat who lived with her had a wonderful life. She loved all animals and was happy to welcome grankitties Gus, Olivier and Willem, and grandpuppy Buddy.
She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2019. She underwent treatments and saw all of her children together before her surgery, and had visits from her brother Edward and sister-in-law Suzanne and nephew John during her recovery. She was well for the next two years. Unfortunately, the cancer returned in July 2021. All her children were able to visit her this summer, fall and winter, which she very much enjoyed. She learned in February she did not have much time, and she passed away after being told how much she meant to her family.
This kind, smart, resilient and wonderful woman will be greatly missed by all who knew her. We love you Mum.
Her family would like to thank her teams at Cancer Care Manitoba, the fifth floor of the Women’s Hospital, Deer Lodge, Home Care and the staff and residents at Portsmouth Retirement Home.
A memorial will be held at a later date with details to follow. In the meantime, Norah’s family kindly requests that all of her friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour her memory by watching the photo-biography above. Please, also consider sharing your own photos, memories, and stories by making use of the comment section on this page.
In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made to Cancer Care Manitoba Foundation or the Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter.
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