The Dryden Observer

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Ruby Ellen Victoria Whitten (Durfey) – July 13, 1928 – April 14, 2009

Ruby Whitten - July 13, 1928 to April 14, 2009
Ruby Whitten - July 13, 1928 to April 14, 2009

Ruby was born in Osaquan, Ontario on July 13, 1928 to parents Ethel Irene and Lewis Henry Durfey.
Growing up during the Depression in a small town like Osaquan was challenging and she loved to tell stories of her life as a child growing up with five brothers and four sisters. As the second youngest child she often felt closer to her nieces Mary and Evelyn than most of her own siblings. Ruby always said that her older sister Mabel was more like a mother to her than a sister. Family remained an important part of her life and as time went on the family grew to include many great great nieces and nephews.
Ruby was an accomplished seamstress teaching herself to sew at a very young age. After the war her sister Lillian asked her to come out to Oliver, BC to work with her in her craft and fabric store.  She later worked as a housekeeper for a family there and often talked about the wonderful fruit that she could pick right off of the trees for her breakfast. Ruby returned to Dryden with her parents in 1947 and after working at the St. Regis Bag Factory for a short time she began working at Wabigoon Drugs.  During her time there she travelled to Toronto on several occasions to participate in classes with cosmetics companies Elizabeth Arden and Este Lauder to learn about the new cosmetics that were available and were now being sold in the store.
In 1949 she met her husband-to-be Dave Whitten in that store when he came in and asked if they sold jiggers. When Dave was relocated to Eastern Ontario with Ontario Hydro Ruby moved to Toronto and boarded with her future mother-in-law for 11 months until Dave returned to Northwestern Ontario. They were married in Dryden on July 17, 1953.  They soon purchased a mobile home and towed the trailer behind an old half ton truck to many towns while Dave continued to work with Hydro construction.
In January 1957 their daughter Sandra was born and they decided that they would settle in Dryden.
In 1983 Ruby travelled to the British Isles and Europe with her friend Clara Titze.  This didn’t satisfy her interest in travel and in 1988 she travelled to the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand with her friend Millie Thompson. Both trips were a wonderful adventure.
In July of 1987 Sandra married and Ruby and Dave welcomed a son-in-law Guenther Thiel into the family.  In May of 1989 her only grandchild David was born and she now had someone to dote on, sew for and spoil.  She loved her grandson very much and was always very proud of him.
Later in life Ruby discovered that she had a great talent for painting and spent many hours painting and participating in art classes. She was an active member of the Dryden Artists Association and always displayed her art proudly at any of the art shows in Dryden. More than all of her interests and hobbies Ruby had a true passion for playing bridge and on more than one occasion braved a winter blizzard to get to a game. She loved the challenge and fellowship of the game and was a part of several groups of regular bridge players and was always willing to spare whenever needed. Euchre was another interest of hers and she participated in the Senior Games whenever she could.  All of her life Ruby was well known for her culinary skills and managed several restaurants in Dryden. She opened the kitchen at the Dryden Yacht Club for lunches and everyone raved about her fresh raspberry pie.
After her husband Dave retired in 1985 they became a team and worked in different construction camps, Ruby doing the cooking and Dave assisting her as cook’s helper and general camp handy man. Together they provided meals for the workers who always looked forward to hot meals during a hard day’s work.
For many years Ruby had been asked to do a cookbook of all of her recipes. As the year 2000 approached she offered to create a cookbook for her husband Dave who was the District Rep-
resentative for the Mason Masonic Foundation Help-to-Hear Project. The goal of the project was to raise two million dollars to provide neonatal hearing screening for newborns in every hospital in Ontario. With the help of their daughter Sandra, the cookbook was completed in time for sale by Easter. The Masonic Lodge then took over selling the cookbook across Ontario which raised nearly $40,000 for the project.  Across Ontario the goal of two million dollars was exceeded with the Northwestern district raising the most money in large part due to the cookbook that Ruby and Dave produced. Although the book is no longer in print phone calls requesting books are still being received.
Ruby was always a very compassionate and empathetic woman, always willing to get involved and help. She was always the first to offer gifts of food when someone was ill or had lost a family member. When faced with a surgery that resulted in having an ileostomy she recovered quickly and never let it slow her down or miss out on anything life had to offer. She was an active member of the Manitoba Ostomy Association and received training as an ostomy visitor. She was often called upon by doctors in the area to assist their patients who had or were about to undergo a similar surgery. Whether she had a referral or not Ruby always made contact with the person whenever she heard that they had undergone colon surgery. Many people have benefited from her visits, assistance and positive outlook.
Ruby was predeceased by her mother Ethel Durfey in 1954 and her father Lewis Durfey in 1965; brothers, George, Ben, Lorne and Bill and sisters Mae (Lawrence), Mabel (Harvey), Addie Morton and Lillian (Cooper).
She is survived by her loving husband of 55 years David, daughter Sandra, son-in-law Guenther and grandson David Thiel. Ruby is also survived by her brother John and sister-in-law Jeanine as well as many nieces and nephews and very close friends.
Ruby will be sadly missed by her family, her friends and the community.
A Memorial Funeral Service was held Monday, April 20, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. in the Stevens Funeral Homes “Moffat Chapel” with Pastor Brian Eschbach officiating. Interment of ashes will take place in the Oxdrift Cemetery.
Should friends so desire donations may be made on Ruby’s behalf to the Dryden Regional Hospital CT Scan Fund through the Stevens Funeral Homes “Moffat Chapel” P.O. Box 412, Dryden ON P8N 2Z1. Condolences may be emailed to subject: Whitten

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