Cover photo for Verna Ann Andres's Obituary
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Verna Ann Andres

September 12, 1936 — October 7, 2023

Toronto

Verna Ann Andres

The second of six children born to John (Jack) Archibald and Mary Ann, Verna Ann Andres (née Devlin) had an old-school name – one that stood out from those of her brothers and sisters (see “Mary Kathleen” and James Patrick”). We later learned her mother had taken a fancy to another child in the neighbourhood named Verna! From the very beginning, she was an insatiably curious child and inveterate reader, excelling at school and eventually graduating at the top of her high school class.

In another time – when the workplace was more welcoming to women and in different socio-economic circumstances – Verna would definitely have put her formidable intellect and organizational skills to use in the service of the law, medicine or in another profession. Instead, she raised her three children, and enjoyed her “single life” after retiring from Bell Canada before landlines gave way to smartphones and the Internet became a household staple.

Perhaps fittingly, her telephone was her lifeline and she relied on regular phone calls with good friends (many made during her time working at Bell) to stay in touch. This was especially the case after she moved to Toronto, where she spent 11 happy years living in an apartment in the home of her son Phillipp and son-in-law Hugh, and frequently making use of their property in scenic Mulmur, where she enjoyed communing with friends and nature.

Born at a time when people had less and “made do,” Verna appreciated the simple things in life: a glass of sherry and a good book, the way the light filtered through the leaves or the sun was setting (she was always asking one of us to “come to the window…look at this” even if it was just a squirrel or bird), and a cuppa (of the weakest English breakfast tea imaginable).

An advocate of a “place for everything and everything in its place” long before Marie Kondo was on the scene, she was also a mean puzzler, and enjoyed completing a cryptic crossword, and keeping a running commentary while watching police procedurals and talent shows (including AGT/BGT and American Idol). She also loved animals (especially furry ones), lunching with “the girls,” playing cards with her bridge and euchre groups and traveling with her children (from Vancouver to Halifax, and NYC to Italy).

Verna cherished her friends (we expect she is now catching up with those who reached the other side before her) and her children Phillipp, Marianne and David – and she especially gloried in becoming a late-in-life grandmother to son David’s daughter Alexis, now 18. Verna also leaves sister Claire Laughlin and her husband Bernie, who saw her through many of life’s rocky patches and acted as a second set of parents to her children; brother Douglas Devlin (Shirley); and sister Kathleen Visser (Albert).

In her later years, she faced myriad health challenges, including a brain tumour, lymphoma, lung disease and dementia, with dignity. We would like to extend our appreciation to the many friends, whose cards and calls were a balm to her soul, to her first caregiver Venus Hosseini, and to those PSWs at Toronto’s Wellesley Central Place who went out of their way to show her kindness. Special thanks also go to Cindy Size and to Cathy Davis, family friends who brightened Verna’s days with visits and treats; we simply have no words to express the depth of our gratitude to you both.

In lieu of a funeral, the family will be holding a celebration of life in Hamilton, Ontario – details will be shared in the near future

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