Louise Jane Choquette (nee Byrka)
March 4, 1947 ~ January 7, 2013
Louise was born March 4, 1947 in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba to Katherine (nee Kuriata) and Peter Byrka. Shortly after her birth, the family moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba where Louise grew up and attended school. In 1952, Louise became a “big sister”, when Gail was born, and again, in 1959 when they were joined by sister Shirley.
In 1965 Louise graduated from Winnipeg’s West Kildonan Collegiate Institute (WKCI) where, in 1962 she had met her future husband, Ron. She was 15. He was 18. Although they “went steady” in high school, they were not destined to marry until 1996.
Following her graduation from WKCI, Louise attended the University of Manitoba, to obtain a teaching certificate. She became a Permanent First-Class Teacher in November, 1968 and taught Primary One students.
March, 1971 saw the arrival of her nephew, Brent, Gail’s son. Louise was now, officially, “Auntie Louise”.
Just two years later, in March of 1973, Louise undertook a significant career change when she signed a contract with Air Canada to become a “Stewardess Trainee”. In her rookie years, she flew the “milk runs” (Toronto to Montreal, Toronto to Ottawa, all of the “quick turnaround” flights) and, over time, transitioned into being able to fly to more exotic destinations as her seniority developed.
Louise flew out of Air Canada’s Toronto (YYZ) base for 17 years until she requested and received a transfer to Vancouver (YVR) in July of 1990. Louise had, by this point, been an “In-Charge Flight Attendant” for many years and was able to hold flights to Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Israel, India, the UK, etc. Long hauls, on wide bodied aircraft, to exciting destinations.
Travel suited her, as she loved to see anything new, to try new foods, to meet new people. Her love of nature, her fascination with other cultures and their flora and fauna, her enchantment with unusual landscapes and all things beautiful, were boundless.
In September of 1992, Louise became a “Great Aunt” to Brett, her nephew Brent’s son.
Louise and Ron had “reconnected” at Ron’s niece’s wedding in Winnipeg, in November of 1992. Ron relocated from Edmonton to Richmond in April of 1993 and asked Louise to marry him, quite frequently, thereafter. She was not ready for marriage, yet. Things obviously changed because one morning in November of 1995, after Louise had read the Li’l Abner “Sadie Hawkins Day” comic strip in the newspaper, she asked Ron, as she walked by the kitchen table, “So, wanna get married?”. He, of course, happily, said, “Yes”, and on April 16, 1996, the high school sweethearts were finally united in marriage, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
Ron had two grown children who, upon their marriage, became Louise’s stepson Robert, and her stepdaughter Lyn-Marie. Louise also, automatically, became a “Grandma” to Lyn-Marie’s son Dylan and Dylan’s sister Dana. In 2010, another grandson, Aiden, arrived and great-grandsons Luka in 2010 and Jack in 2011. All are relationships that she thought she’d never have.
Over the next 17 years, Louise and Ron travelled extensively, often with either set of parents and siblings, building memories throughout Canada, the USA, Asia and Europe.
In October of 2003, Louise took early retirement from Air Canada, after almost 31 years of flying, and breathed a gentle sigh of relief. No more early mornings, no more in-flight issues, no more requalifing, no more “walking inside of a metal tube all the way to wherever”.
Another major shift in Louise’s life occurred in September of 2004 when she became a “Country Wife” (her term) after she and Ron moved from Richmond, BC to an acreage, on the side of a mountain, about 13 km west of Creston, BC. Louise loved her home and her “park”.
Louise took great pleasure in “playing” in her flower beds, her vegetable garden, and her garden shed. Planting, weeding, harvesting, cutting the grass, transplanting, etc., was not work. It was Louise, what she wanted to do, and what she did, well. She loved to get her hands dirty and would work the soil without gloves.
For almost 20 years, the early portion of most mornings was spent sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea in hand, talking about whatever. Relaxed, comfortable and together.
Louise had pets for much of her adult life and loved each of them dearly. Buffy and Muffin, Max and Mizkat. Two German Shepherds and two cats, each a comfort and close companion. At one point, Louise’s mother, Kay, said, “If I come back after I die, I want to come back as one of Louise’s pets. I’ll have nothing to worry about”.
Communication was another of Louise’s passions. She could be standing in a lineup and, within minutes, she would know, and be conversing with, the people in front of, and behind her. Friendly, warm-hearted, congenial, words that are all understatements when applied to Louise. Her personality shone brightly.
On January 5th, 2013, Louise suffered an aneurism, while they were “wintering” in Lake Havasu City, AZ. She succumbed to the aneurism’s impact just before noon on January 7th, 2013. Ron was at her side holding her hand.
Even in death, Louise cared for others. She was, and had been for many years, an organ donor consenter. Louise “gave” throughout her life, and beyond.
“Celebration of Life” gatherings, for Louise, will be held in Creston, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto, in the spring (once roads allow safe travel). Details will be forthcoming and communicated to any who would like a chance to say goodbye to her and, perhaps, share some remembrance of a special person, who will be forever missed, but never forgotten.
Louise was predeceased by her parents Kay and Peter Byrka; sister Shirley Bale; niece Melodie Yeadon; Ron’s parents Anne and Peter Choquette and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
Louise is survived by her husband Ron Choquette of Creston, her stepson Robert (Susan) Choquette of Steveston, BC, stepdaughter Lyn-Marie Choquette of Westbank, BC, sister Gail Byrka of Winnipeg, grandson Dylan (Kristin) Choquette of Westbank, granddaughter Dana Ruether of Westbank, grandson Aiden of Steveston, great-grandsons Luka and Jack of Westbank, nephew Brent Yeadon of Toronto, grandnephew Brett of Winnipeg, sisters and brothers-in-law, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, and their offspring, and many very close friends and colleagues, all of whom already miss her greatly.
In lieu of flowers or other tributes, donations towards the placement of a “Reflections” bench, in Louise’s memory, in Kildonan Park (near her family home in north Winnipeg, and a place close to her heart) will be appreciated.
Donations may be forwarded to the attention of: Connie Mulholland 31 Embassy Lane, Winnipeg, MB R2V 2W8. Please make cheques payable to: Connie Mulholland, Re: Louise Choquette Reflections Bench
Ron may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org