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GEMMA PATRICIA SKELTON
September 6, 1969 – March 25, 2023
Surrounded by her family, Gemma Patricia Skelton, age 53, passed away peacefully at Riverview Health Centre in Winnipeg on Saturday 25 March from cancer. The loss is tragic and immense. Gemma was a source of inspiration for all who had the pleasure of her company.
Gemma was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 6 September 1969 to Marie (Coughlan) and Peter Skelton. She attended schools in England and in Canada before graduating (as Student President) from St. Boniface Diocesan High School in Winnipeg in 1987. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Education from the University of Manitoba in 1991. Thereafter Gemma spent her working life as a dedicated educator at schools in England and Winnipeg, where she occupied the positions of teacher, counsellor, and (most recently) vice-principal at Fort Richmond Collegiate.
Gemma was fun-loving and adventurous. As a youth, on her own initiative she kindly organized activities with her siblings and neighborhood friends, including theatrical performances and summer daytrips. It was no surprise that she soon became the babysitter of choice for local families, and that by her early teens she was running a small babysitting enterprise. Always active, Gemma qualified as a lifeguard and swimming instructor in the mid 1980s, working for many years at Pan Am Pool, where she made several lifelong friends and acquaintances. After graduating from university, Gemma moved to England for work, got married and had two children, Niall and Patrick, of whom she was an engaged and proud parent. She returned to Winnipeg permanently in 1999 to be closer to her family and to advance her career.
Gemma had an abiding curiosity about what the world had to offer. She was an avid traveler, visiting an impressive range of countries in her life for both pleasure and work, including Brazil, China, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Holland, India, Ireland, Mexico, and (her favorites) Barbados and St. Lucia. Together with Niall and Patrick, Gemma spent numerous summer holidays visiting friends and family in Europe, in the process introducing her children to the benefits and joys of travel and new experiences. Gemma’s approach to travel, as to life, involved striving to expand her horizons, with few plans deemed too ambitious.
Gemma was a life-long music enthusiast and lover of pop music, her most recent favorites included Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles. Her greatest pleasures included celebrating her birthday “week” with epic parties, picking apples in her back garden, hanging out with friends at sporting events and (like a true Winnipegger) at house parties, and decorating her house, inside and out, with lights, especially during the Christmas season. She had a positive outlook on life and maintained a large network of friends. Gemma also loved the outdoors, devoting her time to swimming, biking, and being out on a lake.
In 2017, Gemma met Brad Morton, the true love of her life, and together they fabricated a happy friendship and full life together. They enjoyed cheering on the Jets and the Bombers, seeing live music, and soaking in their hot tub. Naturally, Gemma and Brad soon began to travel to places far flung, where they walked and talked, biked and hiked. One of Gemma’s happiest places was the cottage she shared with Brad on Black Sturgeon Lake north of Kenora, Ontario, where they had many friendships and routinely hosted events and celebrated special occasions with family and friends. The pleasures she enjoyed at her cottage sustained her during her illness, which she faced with courage and equanimity.
As in life, in the face of death Gemma was a model for all those around her. She will forever be missed by her family and friends. Her loved ones are grateful to the physicians, nurses, and support staff at the Health Sciences Centre, Section of Neurosurgery, Cancer Care Manitoba, and Riverview Health Centre who cared for Gemma during her illness.
In addition to her husband Brad, her children Niall and Patrick, and her parents Marie and Peter, Gemma leaves behind her stepchildren, Vanessa and Zach; her siblings, Anthony and Niamh (Robert); her nephews, Ben, James, Jack and Rhys; and many friends, relatives, and co-workers.
A memorial service for Gemma will be held at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, at St. Ignatius Catholic Church (255 Stafford Street, Winnipeg, MB). Following the service, a celebration of Gemma’s life will be held at the Caboto Centre (1055 Wilkes Ave., Winnipeg, MB).
Gemma’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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