A Life Remembered   – Gladys Cressman  

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

Gladys was good.

Gladys was a very good friend, of mine.”

She filled her life with goodness; family and community rooted in faith.

At the end of her life, surrounded by family, she said goodbye and looked forward to reuniting with her life partner, Clayton, who died 21 years ago.

I have had the privilege of knowing Gladys for many years. I not only lived in the same community as she did but also attended the same church. My firest remembrances of her were in my early teen years as she and Clayt were MYF sponsors. Fun times were spent playing games and eating at their place, so they wouldn’t need to get a babysitter.

The best times were when we went on retreats. She always kept us on the straight and narrow – being a well-grounded and sensible person. Gladys had a warm mothering sense that made all the youth feel welcome and secure.

Community and social events were also a part of Gladys’s life, a place for camaraderie to grow and be nurtured. With the formation of the Bee Happy group, Gladys shared many laughs and stories over lunch, and was our beloved Queen Bee. In the Red Hat Society, as the Matriarch, she also valued the many friendships, but her strong voice and faith contributed to creating a new group; The Lady Cardinals. This circle of friends focused more on relationships and fun times rather than on being a silly spectacle of red hats and wearing purple. With The Lady Cardinals we shared day trips, going to the theatre, casual meals at restaurants and our homes and celebrating special occasions in each other’s lives.

Her quilting and seamstress skills were evident in the many costumes she created over the years as well as the many quilts she showcased to family and friends. She kept things simple and dignified always adding a bit of willingness to contribute her culinary skills were very appreciated at our gatherings. This was also noted in the many recipes she contributed to the Women’s Institute Cookbooks, as well as her passion for catering. I will particularly miss her ‘Gumdrop Cake’.

Gladys was a central figure of the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society of Ontario, Waterloo Area Chapter, sharing her wisdom of the past and preserving its culture. She was one of the very few who could speak and translate the dialect. Gladys was not afraid to speak her mind to ensure things were accurate. In later years Gladys and I worked on plays together; The Secret Church and The Trail of the Conestoga. With a clear and resourceful voice, Gladys created what she thought would be best to bring these performances to life.

During her time as a volunteer at the Thrift Store, Gladys cherished the many friendships she made while working in the book department with the bookies and rippers. She loved her role as head cleaner. We appreciated that she was a farm girl, unafraid of hard labour – happiest of all when working with the ‘dirty’ books and alcohol. If was very disappointing for her, when she could no longer be an intricate part of the group. She didn’t like relinquishing what she saw as “her” jobs.

Gladys became much more than a good friend to me. After my own mother and aunts passed, she became a mentoring mother figure in my life. I always felt very relaxed asking her for advice and thoughts. She was a good listener. Gladys cared about how I was doing and reminded me to look after myself. While driving we could vent our frustrations to each other, but we always managed to be able to see the positive in each situation.

Self-care was important, and when she moved to the Nithview Community, New Hamburg. I remember her always commenting about the long walk to her home and the absence of a garage affecting her convenience and well-being. Though I could not remedy the 133 steps, by becoming her chauffeur, she no longer had to deal with the cleaning off and caring for a vehicle.

Faith, family, and friendship are values that I will always remember about my good friend Gladys. You will be missed.

– Judy Rivers,   February 6, 2018     Nith Valley Mennonite Church


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