Eleanor (Nori) Weld Smith (nee Mathewson)

WELD SMITH (nee Mathewson), Eleanor (Nori)

Nori passed away peacefully on March 11th in her room at Arranglen Gardens, Vancouver Island. Her closest family was able to be together at her bedside during the days preceding her death and we know that she was “ready to go”. Nori was born in London Ontario on September 11, 1921 to Chester and Gladys Mathewson. Her childhood home was in Welland, where her father worked as an engineer on the construction of the Welland canal. Countless happy memories of weekend picnics to the countryside and summer holidays at Morrisburg with her parents and brother Don laid an early foundation for her profound love and respect for nature and all creatures great and small. Nori spent much of her childhood at her Grandmother’s home, in London. Later this would become the family home, and Nori would attend school here and from there go on to Bishop Strachan School where she graduated in 1939. From the beginnings of her childhood, Nori began the habit of establishing especially close bonds with her friends – and many of these friendships remained with her throughout the rest of her life. From BSS she went to the University of Western Ontario where she graduated in 1943. An early enlistment in the WRENS where she served as an officer in Halifax and Quebec City, reinforced an already burgeoning sense of national pride. After the war ended she traveled west to study Social Work at U.B.C. – again making close new friends – and graduating with an MSW in 1949. During this period Nori really developed her understanding and commitment to “social justice”. After graduation, she traveled north to Smithers, B.C., where she fell in love with the beauty of the interior, and the man she was to marry – Alex Smith. Together, they shared the adventure of raising three fine children – Bruce, Sheena & Julie. During the early years of family life with homes in Williams Lake, Kelowna, New Westminster & Burnaby; social work took a back seat to raising a family. Nori balanced her commitment to family life with activities in the University of Women’s Club and volunteer work for the United Nations Save the Children’s Fund, Brownies – and there was always space to savor the beauties of nature, and there was always space for a cat! Moving to Victoria coincided with the family’s purchase of their little summer paradise – Jelina Island. The island remains in the family and stands as a legacy to Nori and Alex’s deep love of untrammeled nature. Her years in Victoria allowed for a brief period of Social Work practice, membership in the Unitarian Church, enthusiastic advocacy and support for the Children’s International Summer Village Program, board membership with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and involvement as a founding member of the Mastectomy Rehabilitation Program. Those that knew her well, accepted that she was fiercely nationalistic and an often outspoken champion of the rights of women, the underprivileged, and the environment. After her children left home to University Studies and life abroad, she took great satisfaction in genealogical research – especially her own family history, of which she was very proud. In her later years Nori found great contentment in the simple pleasures of life. She puttered in her garden, lavished much care in correspondence with her many far away friends, enjoyed walks in nature with friends at hand, and savored the company of her family whenever she could get it. After a fall and a fractured hip Nori had to relinquish her independent life, and trust herself into the hands of an Elder Care Home in Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island. Her last two and a half years at Arranglen often involved much sadness for her – as Alzheimer’s gradually robbed her of so many of the lovely memories that had formed the fabric of her life. However, she and her family both grew to more fully recognize the blessings inherent in the moment. Nori will be deeply missed by all those who considered her a friend. She was a wonderful human being! She is survived by her son Bruce & daughter-in-law Domena, and daughters Sheena & Julie (and partner Tony) and only grandchild, Jessica. Nori also leaves her brother Don & wife Audrey, and an extended family of Aunts, Uncles and cousins and many very dear old friends. A most sincere message of love and thanks is extended from Nori’s closest family to the Staff at Arranglen Gardens. The patience and love and simple humanity that you gave to our mother, and to us, touched us profoundly, and we will always remember it! In lieu of flowers, or as you are so inspired, please make donations to the Nature Trust of British Columbia or The David Suzuki Foundation. “This we know; the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth.” (1852 Chief Seattle) Nori’s ashes will be laid to rest in a memorial at Jelina Island in the early summer.


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