Dee Dee Westdal
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VALGERDUR ASTA MAE
“DEE DEE” WESTDAL
Valgerdur Asta Mae “Dee Dee” (Gillis) Westdal was born in Wynyard, Saskatchewan on May 31, 1925, to Joseph and Snjólaug Gillis, and passed away peacefully in Winnipeg, Manitoba on May 26, 2023. She was predeceased by her husband, Harold, and siblings Emma, Bud, Bella, and Ben.
She leaves to cherish her memory three children, Laureen (Ken), Carol (Frank) and Neil (Judy), five grandchildren, Neil (Carol), Kate (Aaron), Jake, Geoff (Madilyne) and Greg (Kristy), step-grandsons Keith and Brennan, and fourteen great-grandchildren, Clara, Maya, Ben, Ryan, Elizabeth, Ellie, Kyla, Charlie, Henley, Anne, Braeden, Declan, Lauren, and Josie, as well as a sister-in-law Evelyn, and many nieces and nephews and their families. Dee Dee was a surrogate Amma to many, and generously shared her love and support.
Dee Dee grew up, the youngest of five children, on a farm near Wynyard, Saskatchewan. From her parents she learned the value of hard work, determination, and resourcefulness. After the death of her father, and with her mother, Dee Dee left the farm and moved to Winnipeg in 1942. Dee Dee and Harold met and fell in love in Winnipeg in 1945, married in 1947, and celebrated over 62 years of marriage before Harold’s death in 2010.
Dee Dee was a loving, forgiving, welcoming, elegant, loyal, creative, supportive, kind, and wise woman.
She was a warm, loving, and supportive mother, and taught us the value of loyalty, forgiveness, connection, and working together. She personified patience with her grandchildren and loved to play with them, whether it was Lego, Hot Wheels, or paper dollies.
Her home was warm and open, and no matter what was happening she welcomed those who arrived at her door with grace.
Dee Dee was usually the first to volunteer and the last to quit. She could do almost anything and do it well, from traditional Icelandic food - vinarterta, kleinur, brown bread, lifrarpylsa, rúllupylsa; to upholstering furniture; typing scientific papers, sewing clothes; power painting; and working tirelessly with Harold (and his brother Jack) on the land they farmed after retirement. Dee Dee served as Fjallkona at Íslendingdagurinn (the Icelandic Festival) in 1996 in recognition of her contributions to the Canadian Icelandic community and to Icelandic culture and heritage.
Dee Dee became a confident public speaker notwithstanding a severe stutter as a child and young adult.
She began using an iPad at 90, having adapted to word processors, computers, and email with confidence in earlier years. She exchanged emails with relatives world-wide, played bridge online through the pandemic and enjoyed video calls she placed herself to relatives around the world (as well as a few accidental “pocket dial” video calls she hadn’t intended).
Dee Dee had courage and patience in facing the isolation of two hospital stays in the last couple of years, accepting the limitations on visits and care.
She was a friend to many in her home at Sterling House and enjoyed entertaining family and friends there.
Dee Dee will be missed by Alison Burnett and family, her cousin Joey Wilson, her good friend Rita Nemish and others at Sterling House, and all her friends in Jon Sigurdsson IODE.
Dee Dee’s last year of life was greatly enriched by the kindness, loyalty and gentle care provided by her companion and caregiver, Conception (Shouna) Laoag. The family also wishes to thank the Simkin Centre for their exceptional staff, program and facility.
Góða nótt, elsku Dee Dee, og sofðu rótt.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made by cheque payable to the Jon Sigurdsson Chapter IODE. Please mark donations as being intended for Snjólaug Gillis Memorial Scholarship. Donations of $20 or more are eligible for a tax receipt. Please mail to: Treasurer, Jon Sigurdsson IODE, c/o 111-132 Marrington Road, Winnipeg, MB R3T 5Y5.
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