| Feb 10, 2005

Feture artcle, February 17, 2005

Feature article February 17, 2005

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Doreen Howes: a beloved teacher and volunteer

A week ago Monday, Dale Ham arrived at the News office as usual to do formatting and word processing, but, very unusually, Doreen Howes wasnt with her.

Wheres Doreen? we asked, and were saddened when Dale replied, She had a stroke yesterday. Then, attempting to cheer us, and herself up, Dale added, but I hear shes already giving them a hard time down at KGH.

Doreen started volunteering at the News in 1982, just after she retired from teaching, and for the last 23 years, she has been a major contributor to and supporter of the News. It was quiet in the office without Doreen in her usual corner, and we were all worried about what the stroke would mean.

Doreen had another stroke later on Monday and died on Thursday afternoon. It was even quieter in the office this Monday.


At her funeral this week we found out how much adversity she had overcome in her life, and how, in the words of her grandson, she always faced life straight on.

Teacher, public speaking judge, board member, team captain, lifelong volunteer, Doreen worked tirelessly throughout her life. She gave generously to her family, to her students, to the organizations she believed in, and to her community. She once wrote: Being a volunteer gives one a real feeling of using whatever talents and/or training we have had to help others, without monetary recompense, but just to give. It rewards us with a feeling of pride that we had it to give as well as the warmth of knowing we may have influenced or helped other people.

For us at the News, who were so lucky to have her support. She was always someone who could be counted on for an honest opinion. If we asked Doreen what she thought about something in the paper or an issue in general, her comments were always enlightening.

In Parham, Doreen will always be remembered as a lifelong teacher. At the News, she will be remembered as one of our most diligent volunteers. Weve always felt that as long as Doreen kept coming in, we must be keeping the paper in the right direction. Doreen wouldnt put up with us if we lost our way.

Doreen wrote the following autobiographical sketch on the occasion of receiving her Ontario Life Membership with the Women's Institute on May 24, 2003 in recognition of her 60 years of service. She was very surprised when she was called to the front of the room to receive it and was extremely honoured by this recognition. One month later, she was named Central Frontenacs Volunteer of the Year for Hinchinbrooke. Our thanks to Doreens family for allowing us to publish it

A Grandmother's Legacy (Life Story)

Doreen Shea (Porter) Howes was born at her parents' farm home on April 2, 1919, much to the joy of her two older brothers. She spent much time alone as a child, playing out scenes in her imagination, dreaming of being an actress. She went to Womens Institute. meetings with her mother; baby sitters were unknown! She attended a one-room rural school for four years and three months and passed the Entrance to High School exams with honours. As she was only ten years old, she took the first year of high school in the rural school, then attended Sydenham High School, staying through the week and getting her own meals. She was the valedictorian at her graduation, and was awarded a scholarship that was not enough to pay through university. She remained at home for two years, helping to care for her ailing mother who died after the first year. Always an avid reader Doreen made use of libraries wherever she was. She loved acting in high school, in a community drama society and at Teacher's College in Toronto, which she attended, living with an aunt who was working in that city. She had a brief teaching experience but married and had a son and daughter within the next three years. Her husband, Arthur Porter, joined the army, went overseas and was killed in a Bren gun carrier and motorcycle exercise while training in Britain, on January 31, 1941. Her father died three weeks later. Recovering from her grief, Doreen spent her time caring for her children. She joined the W.I. and enjoyed it so much that when she came to Parham to teach Grades 7-10 in 1943, she became a member there. She has filled the different offices in the branch, many in the District, also some Area involvement.

She remarried in 1948, to a farmer, Mervin Howes, returning to teaching soon after the birth of the younger of two daughters. A busy life of helping to farm, milking cows, gardening, etc as well as teaching, ensued, with Doreen obtaining her B.A. degree by taking courses at Queen's, summer and winter. She always kept up W.I. activities, church involvement and agricultural society activities. She used her drama skills helping her students in productions in the classroom and for audiences.

Her husband died of cancer in 1978. She taught three more years, after selling the dairy herd and machinery. During later years of teaching, she was able to travel in Canada and U.S.A. and had one trip to Great Britain. After retirement she traveled extensively on several continents and often spoke to interested groups about her travels. She also wrote about these travels for the local paper, where she volunteered as content editor one day a week. She joined more volunteer organizations, wrote the history of her township for a County history book, and many other articles to cover the history of organizations, community events (fall fair, W.I. meetings, etc.), biographies and eulogies.

Doreen has received honorary life memberships in the W.I., North Frontenac Community Services and Parham Agricultural Society. She has been a team captain for Heart and Stroke for eighteen years, also Media Relations Chair in the local chapter.

Four children and spouses - Douglas (Stella), Arlene (Karl), Ann (John), Bev (fiance Ed), seven grandchildren (three with spouses) and five great grandchildren make up her family. Doreen has knit a lot of sweaters and other articles for these family members; knitting is her main craft. Her family members are often amazed when she tells them of her past experiences - the Great Depression, World War II, school days (as a pupil and teacher), farming and travels to many lands in later years.

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