By Jasmine Franklin
Rose Stoddart’s life has been based around the military — she worked for the air force and stood by her husband for 32 years while he continued in the service.
In 1941, Stoddart was 18 years old and there was no employment for women during the Second World War.
“I had taken all I could from my family,” said the now 86-year-old Stoddart. “So, I made the choice to enlist.”
Stoddart wasn’t the first woman in her family to enlist; in the First World War, her mother worked in munitions factories.
After a six-month training course in Ontario to become a supply technician, Stoddart was officially involved with the war in the Royal Canadian Air Force women’s division where she took orders and looked after tally cards for equipment. Based in Gander, Nfld., she stayed there four years.
“I enjoyed the life,” Stoddart said. “You get to know all the girls who all felt the same way you did.”
Stoddart still keeps in touch with some of the women she met back in the 1940s.
Somewhere along the way, she found her evenings after work in Gander tied up after a man on-site persisted in dating her.
He was Daniel Stoddart, a warrant officer in the air force and ultimately the master of supply technicians. At first she refused his offers, but this would be the man she was to marry.
Stoddart came out of the service in 1946 after four years and used gratuities given to her to take a six-month hairdressing course in Winnipeg. She was married back home in Manitoba on Nov.8, 1947.
Her husband stayed in the service for 32 years, simultaneously landing her the life of a service-officer’s wife who moved 13 times to places such as Moose Jaw, Sask., Edmonton, Lachine, Que., and in the meantime raised four children: Bob, Linda, Douglas and Gerald.
None of her children chose to get involved with the forces but all have excelled academically. Linda became a dietician, Douglas is the manager of a Servus Credit Union branch in British Columbia, and Gerald is retired after doing quite well for himself in the engineering industry. Bob died in 1948.
“I made sure my children got a good education,” Stoddart said. “This way, they didn’t follow in their father’s footsteps.”
In 1970, Daniel retired from the service and the couple built a home here in Ponoka in Riverside. For 10 years Daniel worked at the Alberta Hospital in Ponoka as a supply technician and retired for good in 1980.
In 1991 he passed away.
“My life now is good,” Stoddart said. “I am able to help out the Legion in all respects, I am part of the Ladies Auxiliary and am the sergeant-at-arms.”
Stoddart joined the Ladies Auxiliary in 1977 and received her life membership to the Legion in 1987. She also marches with the colours group at Legion services and received the Meritorious Service Award — the highest of all awards — in 2007.
For the past three years Stoddart has run the Crib Club at the Legion and is an active Anglican Church member. She always likes to play cards and recently just learned bridge — she plays cards every Friday at the drop-in centre.
Stoddart has three nephews in Afghanistan and the Canadian Armed Forces.