LETA ("LEE") OLGA MOSS
(née SIMMONS, BROWN)
August 31, 1943 - July 9, 2022
It is with deep sadness that we announce the sudden passing of Leta (Lee) Olga Moss, our dearly beloved Mother, Grandma, Great Grandma (Gigi), Sister, Auntie and Friend, on July 9, 2022 in Winnipeg at the age of 78 years.
Survived by her children, Karin Friesen (Mark), Kimberly Brown and Derek Brown; grandchildren, Amy, Justine (Steven) and Angela; great grandchildren, Cooper, Charleta and Stella; siblings, Mel, Marlene, Jackie, Gary and Doug; and many nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.
Predeceased by her parents Olga and Lloyd Simmons; siblings, Lea, Dave, Robert, David, Denise, Malcolm, Brenda and Karen; Sister-in-law Debbie and Brother-in-laws Elvin and Art; Nieces, Rena, Melissa and Melanie along with numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
Leta, as she was called by her family, was raised in Tawatinaw AB; the first of 14 children born to Olga and Lloyd Simmons. In addition to her immediate family, her life was full with grand parents, aunts, uncles and cousins galore, many of whom she enjoyed close relationships with throughout her life. She loved her country roots and often talked of her favorite memories. The long walk to the one room school house, the three-room family farm house she grew up in, helping in the garden, the fox pen, her love of bologna, Christmases made special because they would all get a Christmas orange, playing outdoors from sun up to sundown and hundreds of other stories of her youth. Nothing fancy, she would say, just a simple life that was all about family. She never ate a carrot without telling you how to pull it from the ground and use the greens to wash it and she never used a hammer without telling you how her dad would let her pull the nails from boards that would be reused or about him showing her how to pound in a “toe nail”.
She loved her family life, but she was excited to see “the world”. After finishing high school she headed to the big city to work for the Edmonton Journal as a copy runner. Shortly thereafter, just shy of 18yrs old she found herself crossing the country on a train bound for Nova Scotia after joining the Navy. A huge deal for a small-town country girl in 1961. The years spent in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland were pivotal in her life. She met lifelong friends, served 3 years in the Navy, met and married her first husband and what would be the nucleus of her life was formed with the birth of all 3 of her children between 1964 and 1967. She was proud of her time in the Navy and often talked about her fellow Wrens, basic training, shared dorm rooms, Cornwallis, Stadacona and how much fun she had training down in Key West, Florida as a Sonar operator. In those years, a woman couldn't be in the Navy and be pregnant or a mother – so that ended her naval career. Being her usual self, she was happy for the experience, stayed positive and just moved on to the next adventure.
She was a woman of her times in all aspects of her life and in many cases was ahead of the curve embracing woman's equality, innovations and new ideas in everything she did. Not because she thought it was “the thing to do”, but rather because it never occurred to her that it wasn't. She had many jobs over the years, among them... The Navy, Technician for the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, Office manager for BC Emergency Health Services, Office work at Sherritt - Gordon Mines, Zentec Fitness Sales, Commercial Building Sales at Rodek Enterprises and Scripline. She was self-employed for many years with her own Primerica Financial Services office and was a Mary Kay Cosmetics Consultant. She found her last job working with New Directions in the ASL Division for over 15 years to be very fulfilling. She said of all the things she'd ever done, working with her clients in the community was the most rewarding and was both an honor and a privilege. Despite the diversity of work over the course of her career, the constants were her work ethic and the honesty, integrity and hard work she poured into anything she did.
After leaving Eastern Canada in the late 60's there were brief stints in Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan at various points, but overall, she lived more than a decade in Victoria and finally landed in Winnipeg in 1978 with her second husband and remained there until the end of her life. No matter where life took her though, family always remained important to her. Most conversations with her mother and sisters started as five-minute catch-up phone calls, but ended up being 2, sometimes 3 hours long because they got carried away chatting and laughing. Being the oldest child, she did consider herself to be a sort of matriarch – especially after the loss of their mother. She was genuinely interested and tried to keep up on all the nieces and nephews and that took a lot of phone time too. Not to mention, then there was all the extended family, aunts, uncles and cousin news to stay current on!
Known as Lee to those outside of her family, she treasured her friends and the sheer number and quality of her close friendships was remarkable. She met people from every walk of life in both personal and professional capacities and along the way she made extraordinary friends from one side of the country to the other. Some people she'd known only months while others as many as 6o years. She always took time to stay in touch, as did they and the amazing thing is that she never forgot anything about them and was always interested to hear what was currently going on.
Despite a full and varied work life and an abundance of friends, nothing was more important to her than her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was a perfect mother, with just enough flaws for us to know flaws are ok and perfection is not the name of the game. Growing up, she cultivated our interests, saw us through school, sports, brownies, guides, swimming lessons, camping, baton and jazz lessons and many other extra curricular activities. She baked cookies, canned fruit, vegetables and jams, sewed Halloween costumes, threw birthday parties, hosted sleepovers, established holiday traditions, wiped tears, celebrated our victories and cried with us when things weren't going as planned all while holding down a full-time job. In some years, she struggled as a single parent, but she saw it as another problem to be solved. She was always a loving presence, solid and steadfast for her children and she cultivated the same strong relationships with her grand children who are grateful to have had her for the past 30 years. Over the last four and a half years the joy her great grandchildren brought to her was simply beyond measure. The little ones have endless memories of her and although those may fade as they grow older, we know that just like her children and grandchildren, “Gigi” has been a monumentally positive influence in shaping the adults they will become.
All who knew her, were well aware of her devotion to healthy living and dedication to both physical and mental well being. She was a walking encyclopedia of health and nutrition knowledge, how to and self-help disciplines, positive thinking, old age, new age and everything in between. She could make you dizzy with her insistence on healthy choices, but she was never wrong and her phone never stopped ringing with calls from friends and family wanting information and advice. Like it or not, we children and her grand children find her philosophies ingrained in us and just part of the way we think. She did yoga in the 70's, aerobics in the 80's, weight training in the 90's. She lived chemical free when it was frowned upon to do so, and because of that, at 78 looked like she was going on 60. According to her doctors, despite the physical problem that couldn't be fixed, it was her dedication, steadfastness and knowledge that are, quite simply, what got her to the age of 78.
In addition to being health conscious for herself and her family, she was concerned for the health of our planet and was extremely committed to recycling, reusing and re purposing. In her eyes, EVERYTHING had a purpose and if it had outgrown its initial use then if not her, then someone, somewhere would have a new use for it.
A box was not just a box
because the possibilities were endless.
She didn't see a piece of wood;
she saw a table, or a sign or bird house.
She didn't see a plastic straw;
she saw a bird perch.
She didn't see old glass bowls and vases;
she saw bird baths and light fixtures.
She turned every wrapped gift into a work of art that was as equally important as the gift.
She saw a seed and could picture
a garden full of flowers.
She didn't see flaws;
she saw beauty in imperfection.
She didn't see half a can of old paint;
she saw a masterpiece.
Always up for an adventure, Lee liked to travel, but only if it was not complicated and she could just pack a bag and go. Otherwise, she thought it was just too much work and she'd rather just paint! A business trip now and again, many road trips to Edmonton, one to California and one to Florida. Special trips included a group trip to Cancun with her children and grandchildren in 2003 and in 2014 a mother/daughter getaway to Mexico with Kim for a week. In 2012, to mark the 50th anniversary of her train trip to the Navy, she boarded the train again by herself, this time with a via rail pass and spent the summer going between Edmonton and Halifax, meeting new friends and visiting old ones along the way. In 2016, there was a three-week trip to the Maritimes with Karin, retracing her navy days with a trip around Cape Breton, Newfoundland and PEI. thrown in.
Her life was not without its challenges and she faced many losses; her parents, nieces, aunts, uncles and friends, often at young ages. She married and divorced twice but had fond memories of both. Perhaps the most admirable thing that can be said about Lee is she never complained because she saw the positive in every situation. She ALWAYS had goals and constantly made lists of anything and everything... to do's today, tomorrow, or whenever, shopping lists, things to tell people lists, things to send people lists. She was a problem solver to her core and she truly believed that no problem was insurmountable. It was never a question of “if” and always just a matter of “how”. She embraced technology, taking thousands of pictures, loved surfing the internet to find things she wanted to know and was an online shopper extraordinaire. If the great grandchildren needed crocs or toothpaste, rain jackets or safety locks she was on it!
In her final years, she and her oldest daughter and son in law sold their houses and relocated outside the city together to make a new home on a property they all loved. A world of fun was had amalgamating households, planning and renovating her apartment, working in the garden, spending an uncountable number of hours watching the birds and wildlife and the sunsets were spectacular. Evening dinners and chats that lasted until 4am were a regular occurrence. She was extraordinarily happy and they were equally happy and feel very blessed to have shared a home with her.
Leta loved her life and she remained true to her simple upbringing finding happiness in simple things; the way the clouds looked, the eagle soaring overhead, the reflection of the trees in the river, a fan deck of paint colors, a hug or kiss from a child, a drop in at Kim's for dinner and a visit was always just one of the best things and artwork from Derek was always her most prized gift. She needed nothing more than these and her family and her friends and for those she was always grateful. Her unfaltering passion for everything she did, her enthusiasm and zest for life was the same at the beginning of her life as at the end and it was inspiring. She just never tired of living. All of her family has suffered a loss beyond measure, but we know that she was blessed to live her life truly seeing the joy and possibility that everyday brings and we're sure that she's somewhere over that rainbow, planning, taking pictures and watching over us all.
We invite all who were blessed to know Leta to join us for a 2:30 pm prayer service, followed by an informal reception, Thursday July 28, 2022 at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 252 Dubuc Street in Winnipeg, MB. Cremation has taken place and Leta will be taken home to Alberta to be laid to rest at a later date.
Leta'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.
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