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Beth Wicary (nee Cooke)

April 11, 1947 - September 5, 2019

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Beth Wicary (née Cooke)

Beth left us peacefully at Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie on Thursday morning. Her best friend and partner in marriage for 46 years Dennis was by her side. She will be sorely missed and remembered always by her son Stephen, his wife Christina Polzot and grandson Luka; by her older brother Rick and twin brother Don, their wives Judy and Karen, and nieces and nephews Lisa, James, Gillian and Matthew; by her brother-in-law Peter Burrell; and by the network of friends and caregivers who helped her face primary progressive multiple sclerosis with grace and dignity at home for 15 years, to whom we are forever grateful.

Elizabeth Ann was born a triplet in London, Ontario to Florence Richardson and Donald Cooke, who had married in Europe while both serving in the Canadian Forces during the war. Smallest brother Thomas, from whom Stephen gets his middle name, died a short while later. She grew up on Briscoe Street, attending and Wortley Road Public School and London South Secondary. On weekends she cleaned the office at her father’s soft-water business, across the street from the Aberdeen schoolyard – home to boys from the wrong side of the tracks, according to her parents, including her future husband. Following in her mother’s footsteps, she studied nursing at the University of Toronto, graduating in 1969.

Beth and Dennis met in 1972 at the apartment building they shared near Church and Wellesley, when Beth knocked on his door in search of a corkscrew. They wed on July 7, 1973 and moved into a duplex on Belsize Drive, from which she commuted downtown to the Hospital for Sick Children, where she was head nurse in the cardiac unit. In 1976, they purchased a detached home on Donlea Drive in nearby Leaside, where they raised Stephen beginning a year later. She continued to work part time at Sick Kids until the mid-1980s, when she began teaching nursing Ryerson Polytechnic and George Brown and Centennial colleges. After that, she cared for patients at homes in St. Jamestown and other central neighbourhoods as a Saint Elizabeth visiting nurse, then became a case manager for the Community Care Access Centre in Toronto East.

When her parents passed in 1996, she and Dennis moved to Rosewood Avenue in Midhurst, while Stephen went off to university. From there, she continued her work with CCAC in North Simcoe-Muskoka until 2005, when she was forced to retire after her diagnosis with MS. In 2007, with mobility becoming an increasing challenge, they moved to a bungalow on Stollar Boulevard in Barrie, where they built the network that allowed them to achieve their goal of keeping Beth out of institutional care. To every new nurse who came through the house, she imparted the wisdom, work ethic and manners acquired over her long career in medicine.

For as long as she was able, she and Dennis spent their summer holidays with family and friends on Island 185 in Lake Temagami, which she and her brothers inherited from their father. The fresh air, thick forest and pristine water made it their favourite place in the world to be, particularly in early September when both bugs and boat traffic were minimal.

While Beth’s network was too vast to list exhaustively, particular thanks go out to her very special friend and personal nurse practitioner Janice Parnell, to caregivers Jessica Bagley, Kayla Krueger and Mely Titus, to lead Bayshore Home Health nurse Oksana, and to support staff from Independent Living Service and many others at Bayshore. Her friends and former CCAC colleagues Marilyn Bender, Joyce Lindsay, Donna Goodeill, Leslie Pressnail, Debbie Cameron and Wendy Bailey were indispensable, visiting often and bringing many excellent meals.

A celebration of Beth’s life will be held at her favourite Barrie restaurant, Michael & Marion’s, at some point before the snow flies. Condolences can be left with Adams Funeral Home (https://www.adamsfuneralhome.ca/). And donations in Beth’s name can be made to her favourite charity, Hospice Simcoe, at 336 Penetanguishene Road, Barrie, ON L4M 7C2 (https://www.hospicesimcoe.ca/).