Beatrice Mary Hales
June 5, 1920 ~ September 29, 2017
Bea was the last surviving sibling of the Bullis family (Pauline, Albert, Dora, Richard) who were long-time residents of Lethbridge. Her father, Albert, who lost his leg in WW I, ran the elevator in the Post Office Building. They were fortunate that as a veteran he had a job during the Depression for she remembered her mother, Rachel, feeding fried egg sandwiches to the men who rode the rails who would stop on the back porch and humbly asked for a bite. From their home on 4th Avenue Pauline, Bea, Albert, Dora and Dick happily ventured out to explore the coulees, climb the High Level Bridge crossing the river on the miners’ rope bridge and roam what is now Indian Battle Park. One of her fondest memories was travelling across Canada from Vancouver with her parents and siblings in their old model A, camping along the way. Arriving in Quebec to visit relatives they were asked, “You came from where? All of you? In that?” Bea admits it was pretty remarkable considering they were the last car allowed through during a forest fire and her father with a wooden leg and all. It was during this trip that the family stopped to see the Dionne quintuplets.
Indian Battle Park remained a favorite place where she and her late husband Ivan enjoyed walking and looking for the wild animals and birds. She especially loved the pelicans and knew spring had finally arrived when they returned. Bea shared her love and knowledge of nature and animals with her late son Randy (Cidnee) and her grandson Jeremy.
A natural athlete, she enjoyed all sports but was particularly gifted in basketball and softball which she played for Bowman School. Bea took great pride in her pitching and her ability to “fan out” the men. She was also active in Young People at Southminster Church where she met her lifelong friend Lois Barr.
Bea attended Normal School in Calgary and began her long teaching career in Lethbridge with a class of forty grade two students at Galbraith. She also taught at Fleetwood, Gilbert Paterson and later Allan Watson after returning to the University of Lethbridge to complete her BEd specializing in art education. A gifted artist, a talent shared with her daughter Wendy Jorgenson (Charles), she painted beautiful landscapes of the Castle River area and the mountains and could throw a decent pot on the wheel. She was proud to formulate a glaze known as ‘Bea’s Beautiful Blue’. She loved teaching, a passion which she shared with her son, Gregory (Pat) and especially enjoyed grade five students. Current events, which she thought were so important for young people to develop an interest in, were discussed daily. She coached basketball, baseball and soccer to boys and girls.
Bea was a staunch supporter of the Alberta Teachers’ Association in which she held many positions and through the 1950s and 60s she worked hard for equality in the workplace. This was at a time when male teachers earned more than female teachers and high school teachers earned more than elementary teachers.
As many can testify, Bea was known to have an opinion or two, along with a willingness to share. Sometimes her opinion was tempered with humor, sometimes not. It depended who was on the receiving end as she didn’t suffer fools gladly, especially those who were uninformed. Her humour might catch one short the first time but when you came to know her it was harmless, clever and always well informed. Bea was feisty, kind and very generous with her time. She supported many charities and volunteered often. Bea was a strong believer in equality, didn’t discriminate and would stand up to anyone. “What did they ever do to you?” was her comeback.
When she retired Bea took on an active role at the Lethbridge Senior Citizens’ Organization serving on committees and starting “The Walkers”, a group that met regularly on Wednesday mornings to walk in Lethbridge’s beautiful parks – especially Indian Battle Park - and then to enjoy a picnic lunch. She took advantage of the many trips offered by the Senior Centre and enjoyed the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs. She was a member of the Lethbridge Historical Society. Bea Hales was a proud Canadian and an even prouder Albertan and thought everyone should keep informed on affairs that affected them. She voted in every election.
Bea loved gardening, a hobby she shares with her granddaughter Lisa, and she continued to attend to and improve upon her beautiful rock gardens and backyard on 15th Avenue and 20th Street, a fifty year labor of love. She and Ivan scouted rocks on coulees and beside roads and then hauled those rocks - many, many rocks - to build their beautiful rock gardens and bird bath complete with waterfalls, as well as their natural fieldstone fireplace in their family room. Into her late eighties Bea continued to move, rearrange, then move, and rearrange again her rocks. It kept her strong and at times also kept her children away. Bea took great pride in her yard and delighted in hosting various groups such as the Over Nineties from the Seniors’ Centre for wiener roasts - also her favorite summer family get together.
Bea and Ivan were excellent cooks and in their equal opportunity household made sure Greg, Randy and Wendy could cook, wash dishes, clean, iron, shovel snow and mow lawns. Evening meals and holidays were an important time to come together as a family and enjoy good food. There was no TV so a family of readers was fostered. Her grandson Chad is perhaps the most avid reader now. Bea thought the best activity for children was play so they would learn to amuse themselves. So if the sun was shining out the kids went. In winter it was a long, cold trek to the toboggan hill and a longer, colder trek back.
Bea believed in life experiences. She made many trips to the west coast to visit Randy and his family and also her siblings and their families who all seemed to have fled Alberta for warmer weather. She enjoyed three trips to the United Arab Emirates to spend Christmas with Wendy and, being the sport that she was, rode her first, and last, camel. She traveled with Pat and Greg across Canada (and dipped her toes in the Pacific at Long Beach, B.C. and the Atlantic at St. John’s, NFL) and also into the New England states. She also travelled to Florida and the Cook Islands, and took a cruise to Alaska.
One of Bea’s pieces of wisdom was that during tough times ‘things will always look better in the morning’. Morning was her favorite time of day and she enjoyed sitting in her backyard, enjoying a toasted whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and a good cup of coffee, listening to the birds, and reading the paper while her faithful Katie Dog, who she would remind you just happens to be the cutest dog in the world, snoozed in the rock garden.
As at Bea's request, there will be no funeral, in her memory please take a walk in Indian Battle Park, feed the birds, donate to the Food Bank, and hug those you love.