Barbara (Laycraft) Greshner. Photo courtesy of the Fort Ostell Museum

A salute to our Ponoka and district pioneer women and their families

Our weekly Reflections feature in your Ponoka News is pleased to tell the colourful tales of the long and vibrant history of our town and county districts, as well as to pay tribute to the generations of families, individuals, businesses, organizations, and milestone events that along the way have resulted in the steady growth and countless successes of our urban and rural community and districts.

In 2004 a gala celebration was held throughout Ponoka town and county to honour the 100th anniversary of Ponoka as a thriving town. Countless functions and entertainment were held in and around the community, with special guests, officials, and visitors gathering at the Arena Complex to meet and greet several generations of local families. During the festivities a number of the women of our community and districts were honoured for their extreme dedication and contributions to the ongoing expansion and success of our unique and friendly Ponoka town and county area over those very colourful and challenging years from 1904 to 2004. We have been pleased to pay tribute to these great ladies and their families, and this week recognizes long-time Ponoka resident and good friend Mrs. Barbara (Laycraft) Greshner.

Barbara (Laycraft) Greshner

Barb Laycraft was born in Consort, Alberta, the eldest daughter of Stan and Anne Laycraft. The family later moved to Ponoka, where Stan Laycraft began employment at the Central Alberta Dairy Pool, and was appointed manager in 1945.

She completed all of her schooling from Grades 4 to 12, and following her graduation from the Ponoka High School Barb enrolled and completed the four-year course in Psychiatric and General Nursing at the Alberta Hospital Ponoka and the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. Following the completion of her nursing studies Barb Laycraft met and married George Greshner of Ponoka and they would settle in their home in the Riverside district. Barb began her nursing career at the Alberta Hospital, where she served as a General Duty Nurse Supervisor for several years, while George was in partnership in 1968 with Bob Kroening, Jim Auten, and Marvin Morrow in their busy Ponoka Sheet Metal business along 48th Avenue. Mrs. Greshner would assist with the organization of the Universal Kindergarten in Ponoka in 1974, and when their girls were in Guides she enjoyed being a teacher as well as being involved in the very active club.

Along the way in their busy lives the happy couple would welcome their four children Mike, Camille, Tim, and Julie. Barb was later employed in the Public Health system for three years, and then returned to the Alberta Hospital Ponoka, where she served a long and dedicated career teaching Psychiatric Nursing and Staff Development, retiring in 1992. Barb also kept very active in the community, serving on the Ponoka Main Street Advisory Board from 1994 to 2000 and avidly promoted our colorful history by researching downtown buildings and historical landmarks. The result of this ongoing project resulted in the production of a unique booklet entitled “Ponoka’s 20th Century Landmarks,” as well as historical plaques being placed on original buildings that had been part of a community restoration program, along with five historical signs depicting the early years of the Town of Ponoka.

Barb Greshner’s passionate interest in preserving all facets of the exciting history of both the town and county of Ponoka led her to be a part of a special committee that was put in place to restore and gather the artifacts of the former Alberta Hospital Museum to be displayed at their 75th anniversary celebration. She also served diligently on the Board of the Fort Ostell Museum for 11 years, three years as chairperson, and would volunteer for countless hours to help rejuvenate and assure the vital importance, family heritage, and legacy that our local museum displays for visitors of all ages. One of the main goals at that time being was to make room for the historical Alberta Hospital collection to be permanently located at the Lions Centennial Park facility for all to see and enjoy to this day. After her retirement she also found time to attend the University of Calgary and achieve a Degree in Continuing Education.

Barb is also a life member of the Ladies’ Auxiliary to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 65 and served as both president and treasurer. As a charter member of the Soroptimist International of Central Alberta she would also hold the positions of president and vice-president. One of Barb Greshner’s favourite and energetic community projects came in 1997 when she volunteered to join the Ponoka and District Centennial Committee, and served as the co-chairperson to prepare for the Centennial Homecoming Weekend scheduled for the August long weekend. Over the years she also enjoyed assisting and researching history for local trail signs, and since June of 2001 loved looking for the great early photos for the Remember When and Reflections features that still appear in the Ponoka News each week.

Barb Greshner still lives in the family home in Ponoka, has always enjoyed doing heirloom sewing and making baby quilts to give to family and friends, as well as looking forward to visits with her children and grandchildren.

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