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Shirlee Hems

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October 12, 1923 - October 3, 2021

With heavy hearts, we announce that Shirlee passed away on October 3, 2021 in the Riverview Health Centre at the age of 97 years.


She is lovingly remembered by her family;  David (Lori) and their children Michael and Kelly; Pat Fleming (Rick) and their children Sean (Sheryl); Will (Lauren) and Tom (Alexa); Fred (Elaine) and their children Danielle (Shane); Joe and Jesse. She is also survived by three great-grandchildren Isabella, Eddie and Jaxson; her sister Iona (Cliff) and sister-in-law Mabel. Shirlee was predeceased in 1998 by her husband William “Dutchy” Hems.  


Shirlee was born at the Women's Pavilion in Winnipeg and spent most of her life living in St. Vital. She was the fifth of 6 children (3 brothers and 2 sisters) born to Frederick and Maggie Elcombe. She had fond memories of her childhood on Sadler Avenue in the backyard, trying to propel the swing high enough to grab a handful of plums and chokecherries from the surrounding trees.  As a teen she moved to Essex Avenue where the view of the river from her bedroom window was a calming and beautiful site. Shirlee attended Norberry Elementary School, Glenwood Junior High and Glenlawn Collegiate successfully graduating with a few others from the first Grade 12 class established in St. Vital in 1942. After graduation she excelled at Agnes School of Commerce where she learned bookkeeping, typing, writing and calculation preparing herself for a career working at Home Securities Ltd. between 1943-1956. These skills served her throughout her life as they were instrumental in her efforts to support the household and family,whether it was managing the household finances, providing typing support to her children for school projects or to her husband in his different community volunteer roles .


It all changed on October 1, 1955 when she married William “Dutchy” Hems. They purchased a home on Handyside Avenue starting a family in June of 1956 with the birth of their first child David. Life then took “Shirl and Dutch” to Regina where she gave birth to their second child Pat in 1959. In October 1960 they resettled in St. Vital and their third child Fred was born the following year.


The most important component of Shirlee's life was family. Just seeing her family together brought her joy. Over the years she hosted many Sunday roast beef dinners for the extended family which are fondly remembered by all. Her creative passion was expressed through sewing and dressmaking. They served not only as a source of joy but also as a means to support the family. Clients regularly ventured to the house for fittings and the opportunity to wear one of Shirlee's latest creations. The home was always decorated with her needlework and crafts which brought her much pleasure.


The church was significant in Shirlee's life and she was a longtime parishioner at St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church where her father also served briefly as a minister. The rummage sales and bridge games held at the church were always a highlight for her and she participated in both well into her 90s.


Her greatest joy was spending time with family at the lake. It started with a camping trip to Falcon Lake in 1963 followed by seasonal lots at Toniata Beach, then Granite and Nutimik Lakes. The dream of a  family cottage was achieved in 1981 with the purchase of one at Brereton Lake. This was her family haven as she enjoyed each subsequent generation swimming, fishing, socializing and just plain having hearty laughs together season after season. She could be seen contentedly reading her latest book seated in a lawn chair by the dock with an aura of satisfaction  knowing that everyone was together and enjoying themselves.


Shirlee'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 accordance with Shirlee's wishes, cremation has taken place and a private family service will be held. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the charity of your choice.

A Message to My Family


My life on earth is truly past

I've loved you all to the very last

Weep not for me, but courage take

and love one another for my sake.


Cremation & Life Celebrations

530 St, Mary Avenue - Winnipeg

204-421-5501 -

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