Mother, grandmother, volunteer, community builder. Born April 29, 1940, in St. Thomas, Ont. Died June 28, 2011, in Collingwood, Ont., of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, aged 71.
Gloria Emo was a people pleaser from the start. The only child of Red and Ruth DeGraw, she was punctual, polite, hard-working, energetic and thoughtful.
In 1960, Gloria graduated from Royal Victoria Hospital School of Nursing in Barrie, Ont. She went on to nurse at hospitals in London and Collingwood, Ont., doctors’ offices and VON. After retiring she volunteered at a hospice. Her nitty-gritty nursing stories kept us in stitches.
Ron Emo of Southampton, Ont., was apprenticing as a highway surveyor when he bunked at the Oakridge Motel in Orillia, Ont., owned by Gloria’s parents. One weekend, Ron offered to pick Gloria up from school in his white sports car. Gloria claimed his car was the only thing she liked about him when they met in 1958, but they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last June.
They moved to Collingwood in 1964 and lived in the same Victorian home on Maple Street ever since then. They had the love and marriage, so next came the baby carriages: Michael, Stephen, Mary-Margaret and Timothy.
Friendly, feisty and fun, Gloria took on any challenge with exuberance. She organized host families for 50 visitors from Katano, Japan, Collingwood’s sister city, and toured Southern Ontario with them while trying her hand at translation – despite not speaking the language.
Gloria loved to organize. She ran the show at a number of clubs and service groups. The same was true of her social life – trips, bridge games, dinner parties. One night, she was in such a panic about being late for bridge, she fell down the crooked back stairs. She refused to be taken to the hospital by Tim and Mary-Margaret and instead whipped out to her game. Her card-playing companions promptly took her to the hospital, where she was treated for a broken collarbone, black eye and fat lip. Ron, former Collingwood mayor, took much of the blame in the weeks to follow, even though he had been at town council that night.
Gloria gave her heart and soul to the Collingwood community. Everyone was touched by her endless generosity of gifts, time and words. She was a big believer in shopping locally. Her children joke that their inheritance has been spent at Smart’s Flowers, where she ordered herself a couple of bouquets a week (To: Gloria, From: Gloria.). In 1989, she was awarded the Order of Collingwood for her contributions.
Gloria rarely complained. If someone needed help, she cared for them. If volunteers were needed, she rallied them. She was a doer.
Her five grandchildren will miss her ghost stories, candy dishes, festive gifts and most of all their loving and fun Nami. A sad day for Collingwood. A sadder day for the Emo Family.
By Mary-Margaret McMahon, Gloria’s daughter.