Isabel Orr

—Dec. 26, 1913 — March 12, 2007—

Isabel A. Orr was born in Wawota, Saskatchewan, Dec. 26, 1913, the eldest daughter of John and Helen Dooley. Isabel was raised and educated in Wowota and Park Hill, Ontario. She passed away March 12, 2007 at Cariboo Memorial Hospital.

Isabel met her love Robert Willard Orr in Pelly, Sask. in the summer of 1931 while visiting her father .

Robert and Isabel were married in Oct. 1931.

Their daughter Barbara (Begin) was born in 1933. Sadly three infant sons were buried in the soil of Maloneck, Sask.

During the mid-1930s the family travelled to Vancouver and then to Williams Lake where Robert found work in the sawmill industry. Isabel spent her days raising Barbara and working at the Twilight Lodge in Lac la Hache.

They travelled back to Saskatchewan to try farming once again where their second daughter Gail was born in Nov. 1938.

In the early 1940s in search of better employment and way of life, they moved to Fort William, Ontario (now Thunder Bay). Robert worked at the war plant and took night classes to become a mechanic.

Over the next several years Janice, Gordon, Eileen and Douglas were born.

Douglas, had the extra challenges of being born with cerebral palsy.

In 1951 the family moved back to Williams Lake. Robert worked at a garage and soon owned a sawmill at 150 Mile House.

Daughter Barbara and son-in-law, Raoul Begin moved from Ontario to work for Robert and make their life here.

Over the following six years Isabel and Robert made their home in 150 Mile House, Horsefly, Glendale and the Chilcotin.

In the early years, entertainment involved sitting around the radio listening to shows like The Shadow, The Squeaking Door, and Dragnet.

Opening a box of Tide to find tea towels, glasses or dishes were shared moments of delight, along with receiving the Reader’s Digest, Star Weekly and Simpson Sears’ and Eatons fall and spring catalogues to plan new purchases.

After her children were tucked into bed Isabel escaped the day’s challenges by delving into the historic, mystery/adventure and romance books she read by gas or oil lamp.

As finances improved Isabel signed up with People’s Jeweller’s where the agreement was “a dollar down and a dollar a month” with the promise of a classier set of dishes, and possibly what became her trademark, the pearl necklace.

Isabel was strong in the eyes of her children as she adapted to the difficulties of the 1930s and 40s with elegance and pride. Her strengths carried through into them all, especially Douglas who courageously faced his life of disability with fierce independent passion.

The Cariboo life was firmly implanted in Isabel and Robert’s blood. Yet when their son in law, Bob Kennealy found work at an asbestos mine in Northern B.C. the call of the north beckoned. Robert found employment with the promise of a better and consistent life with a prosperous company town … Cassiar. Initially Bob worked for the Cassiar Asbestos Corp. and then bought and ran the Pacific 66 Service Station. Isabel, then a grandmother of five, ran the snack bar, drove taxi and kept books.

Eileen and Douglas were still at home until the age of 16 when Eileen left to attend school in Fort St. John and Douglas left to live at Woodlands in New Westminister. Daughters Gail, Janice and their families lived across the street, son Gordon and his wife lived close by. It was some of the best years for Isabel and Robert.

They both lived and worked in Cassiar until they retired in 1975 to Abbotsford.

Here they were able to spend their time with daughter Janice, son Gordon and youngest son, Douglas, who was then living in the extended care of the Abbotsford Hospital.

In 1985 Douglas had the opportunity to experience independent living in Fort St. John near his sister Eileen.

Isabelle and Robert celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1981.

Robert died in 1993 and in 1995 Isabel moved back to the Cariboo. After a serious injury to her arm Isabel resided at Cariboo Lodge where she enjoyed reminiscing about the good old days with other Cariboo pioneers and the caring support of the staff and her family.

Looking and feeling years younger than her age Isabel turned 93 last December.

Isabel leaves to celebrate her life, daughters Barb Begin, Gail Yakimovitch, Eileen Babcock, daughter-in-law Doreen, sons-in-law Doug Babcock, and Don Yakimovitch. She leaves 18 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren and 15 great-great-grandchildren.

Isabel was predeceased by her sons, Douglas and Gordon, son-in-law Raoul Begin, daughter Janice (Edwards), and husband Robert of 62 years.

Five generations were represented at the memorial service held for Isabel at her daughter Barbara’s home. Though Isabel, mom, grandma has passed on, her spirit and love for life’s blessings remain and live on in her children.

A beautiful song was written for Isabel and Robert for their 50th anniversary by grandson Bob Kennealy Jr. and granddaughter Laurie Campbell. One stanza from the song is a fitting final tribute to Isabel — “Family unity was their goal in life. We have known it all. Through this unity of our family. We know we will never, ever fall.”


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