Doreen Louise (Simmons) Ross. Photo courtesy of the Fort Ostell Museum

Our ongoing salute to our early pioneers

As we enjoy the countless amenities of our vibrant Town of Ponoka and surrounding county districts it is so very hard to believe that all of the amazing amenities and proud heritage that we are all so blessed with today would have had their humble beginnings over 120 years ago when our first hardy pioneer families and individuals began arriving in this area. For over 15 years and with the great support of the staff at the Ponoka News I have really enjoyed putting together the weekly Reflections and Remember When features which honour the countless milestones, families, individuals, and events that over the past 12 decades have helped to mold, establish, and inspire all the amazing growth, successes, and friendships that we continue to thrive on to this day. This week we will highlight two long-standing ladies and citizens of our community who were honoured during our 2004 Centennial celebration for their outstanding and ongoing dedication and contributions to our town and county community and districts.

Doreen Louise (Simmons) Ross

Doreen was born in Ponoka on July 21, 1927 and loved growing up and taking all of her schooling in her favourite community of Ponoka. After her graduation from PHS this always congenial and friendly young lady went to Edmonton to attend business school and work for six years and then returned home to marry her high school sweetheart Bob Ross in 1952. Together over the years they would live in their farm home north of Ponoka, raise pigs and operate a feedlot on the Walter Russell place, while welcoming their children Mary, Blake, and Ross along the way. For so many years Mrs. Ross was a faithful and dedicated employee at Harry Noble’s Law Office on 51 Ave.

Doreen Ross was always very proud of her community, participating and volunteering in many organizations over the years, including the Order of the Eastern Star, as a faithful member of the Kinettes for 20 years and later in the K-40 Club, as well as serving with the local Red Cross, Diabetes, Cancer, and the Lung Association Committees. As a member of the Brick School Committee she really enjoyed assisting with the planning of two galas and very well attended Red Brick School Reunions in 1977 and 1994, and really looked forward to joining in on and supporting countless activities with her family and many friends. Doreen’s favourite passions over the years were always her family, her friends, her pets, her flower garden, and the wonderful opportunity of sharing her musical talents while playing the piano at numerous occasions throughout the town and districts. Doreen and Bob always looked forward to visiting the Alberta Hospital and Northcott Lodge Centre, where they mingled with the residents and got them involved in delightful sing-songs. They always enjoyed spending quality time with their children and grandchildren, going on holidays together, and attending special events in both town and county.

Doreen Ross passed away at the age of 91 years on Saturday, June 15, 2019 after a very active and happy life in her favourite community. A Celebration of Life for this fine lady will be held on Saturday, July 20, 2019 at 2 p.m. at the Ponoka Funeral Home with lunch to follow at St. Mary’s Anglican Church Hall. Everyone attending is urged to feel free to wear pink or purple or both, and don’t forget your sparkles.

Isabel Odgaard

Isabel Odgaard has been a long-standing and very active member of the Ponoka community for over 60 years. After her first marriage Isabel would later marry Holgar Odgaard, and together they would raise five children and would always look forward to taking part in countless activities with family, neighbours, and friends. Those of us who were growing up or settling in Ponoka during that era will always fondly remember Isabel as the congenial manager of the Ponoka Co-op Shopping Centre for many years.

She joined the Ponoka Legion Ladies Auxiliary in 1968 and for over five decades would faithfully serve in many volunteer capacities in support of the vital and ongoing community Legion cause. Over those busy years there was never any job or event to big or to small when it came time for Isabel to willingly pitch in and help out in the Legion kitchen, whether it be setting up for banquets and funeral luncheons, making salads, or chopping veggies. Isabel also enjoyed hosting, serving, visiting, and providing pastry treats for the Senior’s Coffee hour, and she will always fondly remember those days when the jolly and delightful annual Legion Senior’s Christmas dinners would attract over 200 veterans and guests, and on every festive occasion she would join in with the rest of the early crew in cooking the turkeys and making the dressing. Over the years Isabel looked forward to attending every Legion event that she could, as well as riding on the Legion float in the Ponoka Stampede parade and getting to smile and wave to the massive crowds.

Isabel also served in several executive positions for the Legion Ladies, including nine years as the secretary, two terms as second vice president and another two as the first VP, as well as being a part of the committee that spearheaded the new Legion building. She was also a faithful part of the Legion’s very caring Sick and Visiting program for 25 years, and would always pop in to help with those traditional and popular Friday and Saturday night meat-draws. Isabel Odgaard was honoured for her dedication and ongoing services to the Legion Ladies Auxiliary by being awarded with the Certificate of Appreciation and Merit, the 60th Jubilee Medal, the 75th Anniversary Medal, a Life Membership from the Ladies’ Auxiliary in 1995, and a Pioneer Woman’s Appreciation plaque at the Ponoka Centennial celebration in 2004. Although an ailing shoulder and failing eyesight has slowed her down just a little, Isabel will always look forward to attending some special Legion and community functions, as well as spending quality time with family members and friends.

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