It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Alicia ‘Lee’ Varty (nee Woodhouse) on Monday, June 8, 2020 at the Rimbey Hospital and Care Centre.
Lee will be forever remembered by her husband and forever friend, Gerry, who she met and married while they were both students at the University of Calgary. Over the next 37 glorious years, they taught and lived in the communities of Alder Flats/Buck Lake, Ponoka, Crestomere, Mecca Glen, and Bentley, raising their two children, Kami and Ken. Lee was a dedicated and talented teacher, a profession she aspired to from a very young age, and one in which she continued to learn and grow throughout her career; during which she taught from Grades 3 to 10, attained a Master’s Degree, served as a school administrator, and an instructional and technology leader and coach. She will be fondly remembered by her school communities and parents, colleagues and teammates, and the students she loved so much.
Lee loved to watch her daughter skate, and became deeply involved with the figure skating community; working at a variety of positions with the Ponoka Skating Club, the Alberta CFSA Section, and loved being a part of that family almost as much as she loved complaining about sitting in the cold bleachers while the kids lit up the ice. In later years, Lee enjoyed being connected to an international network of figure skating athletes, officials, and fans, traveling to competitions across North America and meeting like-minded people previously known only through their internet connections.
In later years, as their children grew and moved away from the nest, Lee discovered a new love, traveling. She loved nothing more than to pack up the motor home, and together with Gerry, go searching for new places to camp - driving across Canada and the U.S.A., visiting places they had only seen in pictures or read about in books. Sitting in that front seat, telling Gerry where to go, was a rare pleasure that they planned to pursue even more as Lee wrapped up her teaching career.
As her children married and started families of their own, Lee discovered a captivating new hobby … spoiling grandchildren! Kami (Kevin) Gelinas introduced her to Brenna and Paisley; while Kenny (Christy) Varty added Kelton and Lacey to the party. These four darlings knew her as ‘Nannie’, and adored spending time with her almost as much as she enjoyed time with them.
She was the matriarch, the central love of our families. Loved deeply by her husband, Gerry; her daughter, Kami (husband, Kevin plus grandchildren, Brenna and Paisley); and her son, Ken (wife, Christy plus grandchildren, Kelton and Lacey).
Lee is also lovingly remembered by her stepfather, Edward Brown; her sister, Chris (Gary) Vandebunte and family; and her brother, Bruce Brown. She was predeceased by both her mother, Joyce Brown and her father, Ken Woodhouse Sr.
Lee believed that ‘one can never have too much family’, and so she found and reconnected with her ‘other’ family (Woodhouse); consisting of three half-brothers: Larry (Wendy), Bill (Linda), and Ken (Sharon) and their families, who all reside in Ontario. On this side, she was predeceased by her half-brother, Dave Woodhouse.
Due to gathering restrictions at the time, a small, private Remembrance Service in Lee’s Honour was held. Keeping the service private was a difficult decision, arrived at after much discussion by the family. We are acutely aware of how many lives Lee touched as a teacher, a friend, a community member, a courageous, smiling patient, and a stand-in-rent-a-mom for kids young and old; and we are deeply sorry that we could not have an open, large funeral celebration for everybody to say ‘goodbye’. But, if you really knew Lee, you know that she would have everyone’s safety ranked first on her priority list … if her farewell celebration turned into a Covid super-spreader event, she would be very upset, not to mention quite capable of haunting us all for that poor decision!
Those who desire may make memorial tributes in Lee’s memory to the Bentley School Breakfast Program, something Lee started and took great pride in, to help every child start the day with the security of food in their stomach with no judgment or discussion. Any donations may be made payable to the Wolf Creek School Division and mailed directly to: Cards 4 Lee, c/o Bentley School, Box 299, 5314 – 49 Street, Bentley, Alberta T0C 0J0. Please take the time to include a little anecdote, picture, story, or memory you have of Lee – even if you choose not to donate – so that we can all share those inspirations to keep her legacy alive in our hearts.
Loving Lee was easy … she loved every one of us,
and our lives are a little brighter because of her smile.
Cremation Arrangements for the Late Alicia ‘Lee’ Varty entrusted to the care of